For someone who says she was “a terrible baker” just three years ago, Kristina Krause has moved up the ladder quickly.
Krause, of Leesburg, is one of the contestants on the Food Network’s Summer Baking Championship, which airs Mondays at 9 p.m.
Krause says she’d always cooked, but baking was a different story: “I wasn’t really good at it at all, to be honest. It’s a bit more precise; it’s a bit more scientific; you can’t really customize it as much as you’d like.”
But during the height of the pandemic, she educated herself through social media and YouTube and challenged herself to try at least one new baking recipe a day. She says when her kids saw her challenging herself, they cheered her on, and drew inspiration as well. Her daughter “wants to try new things now, too.”
At first, she baked for friends in the neighborhood, but that quickly led to the formation of her cake boutique, Kristina’s Kitchen. Krause decorates cakes, cupcakes, and other pastries with custom designs for weddings and other occasions.
“I guess it’s my creative outlet,” she says. “I’m a stay-at-home mom of three kids and on top of that, we are a special needs family. So, this is my creative outlet. I love it.”
She posted her work on her business’ Instagram account, which got scouted by the Food Network. After a few months of baking challenges and interview questions, she was asked to be on the show.
‘Dream Come True’
“Growing up, I would always watch Iron Chef and all the other baking shows and cooking shows with my dad,” Krause says. Being on the network herself is “a surreal moment and dream come true.”
The very thing that scared her about baking turned out to be what she liked best about it: “The specific measurements and your oven temperature — just getting everything right. And then once you you’ve mastered a recipe, and you do it a bunch of times, and you keep getting the same amazing results every time. I don’t know; I really love it and I really craved it.”
It’s one thing to bake at home; baking on TV, in an unfamiliar kitchen with unfamiliar tools, is a different story. Krause says she used to watch cooking shows and say, “Oh, that looks so easy. And, oh, I could totally do that.”
It is not so easy. There’s no recipe for “a water feature cake with cola syrup,” Krause says, so on the show, flexibility to deal with the off-the-wall challenges comes in handy. “It really, really makes you question how much you love baking.”
But in the end, it’s gratifying: “Being thrown into what I call a baking arena — it’s so surreal. And it’s stressful; it’s intimidating, but it’s just so much fun. This will definitely go down as one of the most memorable experiences of my life.”
Her competitors are experienced professionals, so that doesn’t make it easy either, but she says she got a lot of validation as a baker from their opinions of her work, and that they remain connected today.
While the filming of Summer Baking Championship is over, the show runs until the end of June. After that, Krause’s next goal is to start offering baking classes for kids.
“It’s so, so important — and so much fun — to get kids into the kitchen, where they’re hands-on: learning how to measure, learning the science behind baking, and [using] those academic skills while also creating something delicious and fun.”
Her vision would include special needs baking classes as well. “I think it’s really important for kids with special needs to be included and get in the kitchen to and just be hands-on — use those functional living skills and create something delicious.”
Featured image courtesy Food Network
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