The Great Canadian Baking Show Features KPU Physics Prof.

Dr. James Hoyland took some time off from teaching to try his hand at becoming “Star Baker”

KPU instructor James Hoyland is on the CBC television program The Great Canadian Baking Show. (CBC)

Canadian fans of The Great British Bake Off can now rejoice, as the show has finally made its way here in the form of The Great Canadian Baking Show. The inaugural season was shot in northern Toronto over the summer and featured 10 talented bakers from across the country.

One of the contestants is a Kwantlen Polytechnic University physics professor named Dr. James Hoyland, who has taught both introductory and upper-level physics courses at the university for the past three years.

Because they are originally from the U.K., Dr. Hoyland’s family faithfully followed the British version of the show. When his wife came upon a casting call for The Great Canadian Baking Show and told Hoyland, he was quick to apply.

Hoyland believes that baking falls somewhere between an artform and a science. Unlike cooking, where “you can just throw something in [the pot] and it will all turn out okay,” Hoyland says that, with baking, “you have to think about the structure of the materials.”

“There are really only five or six ingredients [in baking],” Hoyland explains. “There is water, flour, some kind of fat, maybe yeast, and salt—and by mixing them in different ways you get different results. That is where the science part comes in, because depending on what you are trying to produce, you have to treat them differently.”

His background in science may have given him a slight advantage on the show in terms of understanding how the chemistry behind baking works, but he doesn’t think that it made much of a difference when he was competing “against someone with 40 years of baking experience.”

He first learned to bake as a child, but it wasn’t until 16 or 17 years ago, when Hoyland moved to New Brunswick, that he started to bake regularly. Baking breads and pastries is his specialty, and he prefers to make his bread rather than buy it at the store.

“When it was snowing and -30 degrees outside [in New Brunswick] you just wanted to turn the oven on, so doing things like baking bread and warming pies [came from] a primal need for heat and carbs,” he says.

Hoyland describes his experience on The Great Canadian Baking Show as “surreal and exciting.”

“It was pretty much a 100 per cent positive experience. It was stressful at times, but even that was fun stressful.”

On the show, Hoyland can be found furiously mixing cake batter with his bare hands, looking more like a kid playing in the mud than the distinguished physics professor that he is. Light-hearted moments like these are what separate The Great Canadian Baking Show from the abundance of high-tension cooking competitions shows on the air.

To follow Hoyland and his weekly quest to become an expert baker, watch The Great Canadian Baking Show every Wednesday night at 8:00 pm on the CBC.


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