Rising to the challenge

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By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With more free time during the pandemic's early days, many Canadians turned to baking as a new hobby.
But for Richmond’s Caron Lau, 26, that hobby has landed her on the upcoming season of The Great Canadian Baking Show, which premieres on Sunday.
“I got a crash course (in baking) with my friend in a convent in 2019,” says Lau. “(My) friend is becoming a religious sister, so I went to visit her and she loves baking. A big thing in that convent and in convents in general is the idea of service, so one day of my visit there was spent in service, baking for the whole convent.”
Lau practiced making things like meringues and pie crust, but her biggest takeaway was the ability of baking to bond people together. And during COVID, she looked for that comfort and bonding ability.
“It wasn’t really until lockdown when I had to fly home from grad school and do the rest of my coursework online that I really needed something that got me moving and gave me a goal to work for during the day. In March 2020, when everyone was baking bread, I baked bread too.”
Lau bought herself a stand mixer and started with the hardest things she could think of: macarons and croissants. Despite some initial challenges, she describes the feeling of being able to troubleshoot recipes as exciting. Croissants remain her favourite thing to bake.
“With things that are very technical, like croissants and macarons and things like that, I typically follow a recipe and then innovate as I go,” says Lau. “It’s the most satisfying feeling in the world when you cut the croissant open and it’s perfect.”
Born in Hong Kong, where homes are tiny enough that the oven doubles as a storage space for pots and pans, Lau has also experimented with recreating items her family would typically buy from their local Chinese bakery.
“Those are understandably the (recipes) that my parents are the most happy with,” she says. “As all of my Asian family friends are reaching out, I feel more of a call to make the things I grew up eating from the Chinese bakeries.”
Lau’s favourite combinations are inspired by Asian flavours, and she particularly loves mixing citrus and tea. She also gets ideas from...continued

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