Biscuits and Christmas pudding? No problem for this Great Canadian Baking Show 'nan'

For Mary Lou Snow, growing up on the Avalon meant baking was less of a specialty skill and more of an expectation.

"All through my life, of course in Newfoundland, you start out with white bread. You know — your mom, your aunts, everybody made white bread," Snow said.

The 67-year-old college physiotherapy instructor from Conception Bay South, who jokingly referred to herself as the "nan" of the third season's cohort of The Great Canadian Baking Show, already knew she could whip up a scrumptious treat or two.

But it was her friends who convinced her to do it on television.

They "pushed me to my limit and said I should go for it," she said, laughing.

I don't think I went in it to win. I think I went in it for the experience, for Newfoundland. - Mary Lou Snow

After an online application round and then an in-person audition — which involved baking her goods and nervously loading them on a plane to Halifax, where she then added the final touches — Snow was in.

"Baking is definitely a science but you have to be creative as well … make it pretty, plate it, that sort of thing," Snow said, describing the hard-sauce dressing and even saucier inner core of the Christmas pudding she brought the judges.

"That's my own recipe I've been using for years."

Geoff George

Of course, the audition also involved a surprise, on-scene baking test.

But Snow found herself more than comfortable with the baking-on-the-fly assignment: biscuits.

"I didn't know [what it was going to be], but I felt very confident. I wasn't apprehensive at all," she recalled. "Biscuits are something we make in Newfoundland all the time."

Representing Newfoundland

Snow couldn't let any of the show's secrets slip, but said each episode — taped and wrapped up before the season airs next week — had its challenges.

The notorious technical bake, she confirmed, gave her the hardest time. 

"That would have been definitely the most difficult because we … had no idea how they wanted it," she said. "We're not professional bakers."

geoff george

Details of the upcoming season were kept safe, but Snow was able to disclose snippets of life as a baking show star. While the magic of television makes it seem like the contestants have only a few minutes to think about how they'll approach a signature dish, Snow says they actually have a week to think about each one and practise at home.

"They give us just a general idea. And then we have to make it real with our own spin on it," she said.

The third dish category, the "showstopper" bake, didn't leave Snow flustered either.

"I think being my age and seeing all the younger contestants — I'm traditional. And I made sure [the producers] knew that in the basic interview, that I'm not, myself, a showstopper," she said.

"So I don't think I went in it to win. I think I went in it for the experience, for Newfoundland — to present somebody from Newfoundland."

The Great Canadian Baking Show premieres Sept. 18 on CBC.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador