Photo By: Noah Nickel via Netflix

The Great Canadian Baking Show (GCBS) is a competitive television program based on the popular program The Great British Baking Show (GBBS). GBBS has been around for 12 seasons and loads of seasonal specials. The Canadian counterpart has just four seasons under its belt, though it doesn’t show any signs of stopping.

This fourth season of GCBS not only introduces viewers to the 10 new bakers who will be competing this season, but also to two new hosts. The charm and humour of the hosts is one of the things that won viewers over in GBBS, with comedians like Noel Fielding and Mel Giedroyc introducing challenges and keeping an otherwise intense competition funny and light. The GCBS has had comedians such as Dan Levy, who you may recognize from Schitt’s Creek, and Baroness Von Sketch actors Carolyn Taylor, and Aurora Brown as hosts. The bar has been set high, and so new hosts Ann Pornel and Alan Shane Lewis have big shoes to fill. They seem to be off to a good start, with their silly banter and charming introductions to each episode during this new season.

The judges of the show will be familiar faces to anyone who watched season 3. Bruno Feldstein is kind, and his passion for baking infuses the show with a comforting, supportive environment for the competitors. Kyla Kennaley is so cheerful and knowledgeable about baking, always giving tips to the bakers that fans of the show can remember and try out in their own kitchens.  

Baking became a popular pastime during COVID-19 lockdowns; Instagram was flooded with rustic country loaves, banana bread, and focaccia. While it made sense why baking caught on, as it was one of the only things people could do during the early months of the pandemic, it seems to have stuck around in large part. Baking is a satisfying way to express oneself creatively while producing something nourishing for the body and soul. Now that things are reopened and people don’t have as much time to spend in the kitchen, GCBS is a great way to connect with the wholesome energy of cooking while relaxing after a long workday.

That’s not to say the stakes don’t get high in the tent, it is a show that balances delightful cooking with tense moments of wondering if the bakers will be able to meet the time limits and heartbreak at the end of each episode when someone gets sent home. The catharsis of watching competition shows allows audiences to get invested in something stressful that is completely controlled, as is the case here with GCBS.

Some of the episodes are familiar to those who have watched other seasons. “Cake Week” and “Bread Week” are constant from season to season. However, this season has also introduced some new weeks, such as “Botanical Week”. The finale of every season is also a gorgeous tear-jerker where we get to see the friends and families of the bakers talking about how proud they are, and that type of love and support is something everyone can use a little bit more of.

This season was produced during the COVID-19 pandemic. This changes some of the aspects of the show long-time fans may have been expecting. Most notably, the finale. The families of the top three bakers usually speak to the camera about how proud they are of the contestants from the comfort of their homes. In this finale we cut between high-quality camera footage and screen-recordings of zoom calls. In previous seasons, friends and family of the top three bakers come to the tent to enjoy baked goods and meet the rest of the bakers, while in this season that was impossible. It was still heartwarming and lovely, but it was missing the intimacy of people gathering to share in something they are passionate about. However, the show adapted well to difficult circumstances and acknowledged the things they were missing.

Overall the fourth season of The Great Canadian Baking Show delivers on the wholesome content that keeps people coming back. It’s a great way to escape from the stress of everyday life and see some mouth-watering baked treats at the same time.