Start your ovens because the competition is fierce on the sweet new Hulu competition series Baker’s Dozen. Tamera Mowry-Housley and former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses host each episode as a field of 13 vie for the coveted golden rolling pin and $5,000.
Seasoned pros and amateur bakers put their skills to the test in a series of unique challenges where they’re judged on criteria including creativity, presentation, and execution. Guest judges from all realms of the baking world appear throughout the season with names ranging from Joshua John Russell and Leanne Pietrasinski to Gemma Stafford and Loria Stern.
TV Insider caught up with Mowry-Housley and Yosses about their time in the Bake Shop.
I love the idea of opening up the competition to seasoned bakers and self-taught ones.
Tamera Mowry-Housley: The coolest thing is there were moments I really couldn’t tell if they were amateur bakers. That’s what you want. There have been amateur bakers who beat the professionals. I love that fact. I’m a true believer in the underdog, but I believe in hard work and dedication and going to school to achieve things. It was a nice surprise when you would see that happen [for the amateurs and pros] because it breaks the stereotype.
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Bill Yosses: There seems to be a hybrid now of professional and home. People doing cottage industry-type things where they have some professional background but cooking at home. Obviously, COVID and quarantine had a lot to do with that. I love the stories. What is interesting to me is seeing how our profession is changing and adapting in new ways. There will definitely be a lot of changes that stay with us. I also loved how the camera really gets down in that mixing bowl and you can really learn something about baking from watching the show.
Did you guys have a favorite challenge?
Mowry-Housley: Selfishly, I love bread. So I’m going to have to say that one. Talking about all this while I’m having a salad.
Yosses: We all needed salads after that show.
Tamara, tell me how baking has brought your family together.
Mowry-Housley: The coolest thing about baking is that kids can definitely get involved. It might be a little messy. They love sweets, so they like the process of baking a cookie or a cupcake and being able to taste it. Baking to me — and cooking — is a sort of a love language. I feel like when you are baking something that smells good, that’s warm. It makes you feel good. It can change your mood. I feel at the beginning of the pandemic there was a lot of uncertainty and sadness and fear. There is something about baking that puts a smile on your face.
You had some fun judges this season. Who stood out to you?
Yosses: It was a revelation to me. I really didn’t know how big this trend on Instagram had become of home bakers doing wildly creative stuff. I had heard of Lauren Ko who does the geometric pies. I was following her. Teri Culletto with the flowers. Just great people doing different styles but all unique.
Mowry-Housley: They were very unique. Being a twin, I was taught this at a very young age. I have a person out there who looks like me, talks like me. My mother taught us the importance of being unique. Each person in this world, even twins, they have their own uniqueness. For a lot of the guest judges, the reason they became so successful is that they honed into that original aspect of themselves.
What was it like filming together and getting to know each other?
Mowry-Housley: I love that Bill never got tired of my questions because I’m a foodie. I love baking obviously. I will always ask him questions. He would openly answer. Never annoyed. For me, it made me feel very comfortable. It didn’t feel like work. Yes, we were working but it’s a blessing when you put two people together and they say action and you just play. That is what it felt like with Bill. We had this natural chemistry.
Yosses: I love teaching, but the reverse was true with me on a set. I didn’t know which way to look. She is gently moving me over to the mark. She made me comfortable doing something I had never done before.
Bill, are you a Sister, Sister fan? Tamera, did you ask him which president was the hardest to please? Did this dialogue happen?
Mowry-Housley: 100 percent. I asked him the burning questions I now discover a lot of the journalists have asked Bill. What was Obama’s favorite dessert? Was he nice?
Yosses: I’ll be honest here. I live under a rock. I’ve been in the kitchen for the last 40 years. I didn’t know Sister, Sister. The realization came to me actually just a couple of weeks ago. This lady is like hip-hop royalty. I just thought she is this nice person. She has done some television. I heard this song “Tia and Tamera.” It was about them! And from one of my favorite singers in Dojo Cat. These two are like the top of the entertainment world, and here I am to her asking, “Hey, can you hold this for me?” I’m glad I’ve come out from under my rock.
Mowry-Housley: I was more shocked Bill was listening to Doja Cat when he texted me. He was like, “Oh my gosh Tamera!”
If there is another season of the show, is there one challenge you want to see on an episode?
Mowry-Housley: I would love to have kids come and bake. A lot of kids actually love to bake. That could be fun.
Yosses: We would love to have kids. I think one of the things that is interesting is [having] people from certain careers like a molecular biologist, people from performance and acting in theater. There were graphic designers. It could be kind of fun to do a group from a certain profession that also bakes. Great question. We should start thinking about that.
What did you take from this experience seeing all the creativity and different approaches to baking?
Mowry-Housley: I’m definitely going to take on the aspect of fresher ingredients makes a better dessert. If you’re going to have a cake with chocolate chip cookies on top or sugar cookie crumbles, bake the chocolate cookies and sugar cookies from scratch, then add them to the cake you just made. That is just going to elevate the senses of your dessert. My mouth is watering.
Yosses: I learned a lot. I actually tried doing the geometric pies since I’ve been back in the kitchen. Tamera mentioned natural products. I’ve been experimenting with different kinds of grain. Old ancient grains like emmer, spelt and einkorn. Very nutritious grains. That has been an interesting part of the evolution that came from being on the show.
Baker’s Dozen, Streaming now, Hulu