Baking Champ: ‘Don’t Fear The Oven!’

CHICAGO (CBS) — One of America’s top bakers — in Chicago Sunday for an annual culinary event — says amateurs should not fear the oven over the holidays.

Before Francine Bryson became one of the top three finishers on last summer’s “American Baking Competition” show on CBS, she was a simple housewife from South Carolina.

What took her from homemaker to TV star?

“My famous chocolate bacon peanut butter pie,” she told WBBM Newsradio, as she prepared to visit Chicago for Sunday’s “Pie Town” event at Kasbeer Hall on the Loyola Law School campus.

Bryson said her signature creation started as an accident with her husband in the kitchen. “I was making a peanut butter pie, she said. “He stuck a piece of bacon in the actual mousse for the pie. He said ‘you gotta put bacon in that pie,’ and I said ‘OK.”

The rest is history: the pie got her on the show, and now she’s made 300 in six months.

She plans to show visitors to her demonstration how to make the pie, and along the way help correct potential mistakes novice bakers make in the kitchen.

One of those mistakes is using room-temperature ingredients to make a pie crust.

“You have to use ice-cold ingredients to make the crust flaky,” she said. Another common mistake is not measuring ingredients precisely, which can turn a beginner’s baking experience into a disaster. “You gotta realize what you’re doin’ before it goes in the oven, because once it gets in the oven, there is no return,” she added.

Bryson’s demonstration is set for 2:30 PM Sunday. The Pie-Town event sponsored by the American Pie Council includes a baking contest, sampling and expert demonstrations. For more information on the event, click here.

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