Amanda Yagminas has created amazing confections over the years and is vying for the title of The Greatest Baker of 2020, an online competition open to bakers from all over the world. (Connor Small)
The Canadian Press
She’s been baking custom cakes for 15 years, but until the end of October, Amanda Yagminas wasn’t on the competitive side of that industry.
Then she saw a post on Instagram about The Greatest Baker online competition.
“I was intrigued by it and thought, ‘You know, I’m entering this.’,” she said.
The contest was launched on Oct. 27 and finishes on Dec. 10. The winner will be chosen by the number of votes they get, and it’s partly a reflection of how good something looks rather than how it tastes.
But Yagminas is up for the challenge and so are her supporters: she’s in first place in her group, which was assigned by contest organizers.
“As long as I stay in first place in that group, I move ahead to the quarter finals,” Yagminas said.
The number of votes she gets by 9 p.m. on Nov. 19 will decide if she goes ahead.
The winner of the competition gets crowned The Greatest Baker of 2020, receives a year’s supply of Stuffed Puffs, milk chocolate-filled marshmallows, and will be featured in Bake from Scratch magazine.
And there’s a take home prize of $10,000 to boot.
The winner also gets to spend a day with Stuffed Puffs Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Michael Tierney in Pennsylvania.
To enter the competition three questions have to be answered: What is your signature bake?; How long have you been baking and; What is your best baking secret?
Yagminas chose New York style cheesecake as her signature bake, standard vanilla, with caramel sauce.
“It’s very rewarding,” she said. “It needs to be presentable. You’re going to be drawn to the things that look good.”
Yagminas has had a fascination with baking since she was three years old.
One of her baking heroes is her grandma, a pastry chef who is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being one of two chefs who made the World’s Tallest Wedding Cake in 1987.
Yagminas keeps one of her grandma’s recipes, melting moments cookies, close to her heart.
Her mom helped foster her love of baking too.
“My mom always let me make what I wanted to,” she said. “In fairness, it turned out awful.”
But coming from a family of six, Yagminas got lots of practice cooking and baking, and she tested her recipes on neighbours too.
After a break from baking – it wasn’t the cool thing to do as a teenager she said – Yagminas got back into it in her late teens, experimenting with styles, structures and forms of baking.
She pointed out, “Baking is a respectful science.”
Yagminas started getting orders for custom-made goods and it turned into a steady stream of requests. She operated Amanda’s Custom Cakes for over a decade in Ottawa and Cold Lake before she and her family moved to Jasper.
“My favourite thing is when people give me an idea of what they want, and let me do what I want, creatively,” she said. “It allows me to take it and run with it. The pressure isn’t quite as high as somebody sending me a photo and saying they want it just like that.”
Cakes are her specialty, but she makes cookies, tarts and cupcakes too.
These days, because she doesn’t have two kitchens needed to get a food handling permit, all of her baking is done for family and friends.
Yagminas would love to hold the title as the Greatest Baker 2020, and said, “I truly do think it’d be amazing for Jasper to be home of the Greatest Baker.”
To vote for Yagminas, go online to https://greatestbaker.com/2020/amanda-yagminas. You can vote every 24 hours with a Facebook page or purchase votes on the site, with the funds going to the No Kids Hungry Foundation.
By Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter/Jasper Fitzhugh