Local baker will be featured in Thanksgiving-themed episode of baking show

Staff writer

A local baker will make her national competitive debut Saturday.

Tawanda Hammond, owner of Williamsburg-based Cakes by Tawanda, makes an appearance on the baking competition series Bake It Like Buddy in a Thanksgiving-themed episode.

The Discovery Family Channel program is a new series that features Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss fame.

“It’s surreal,” Hammond said of her appearance on the show. “I thought, is this really real?”

In the episode, which is titled “Topsy Turvy Thanksgiving Cakes,” Hammond and her cousin Lisa Palmer will go head-to-head against another pair of cousins from Maryland, Discovery Family Channel spokesman Jared Albert wrote in an email.

The challenge? Create a Thanksgiving cake in four hours. Valastro and two others will judge the cakes and select a winner.

It’s a first for Hammond, who has appeared before the camera in educational programming, but never a competition.

“That’s a whole other world,” Hammond said, noting the demands and atmosphere in a television studio, with the need to explain her work as it happens, is different than the focused silence of working in her shop.

“Your mind has to be focused,” she said.

Hammond is an old hand in the bakery game. She’s operated her shop since 1995, working in south Hampton Roads before coming to Williamsburg, according to the shop’s website. And while her cousin is no slouch in the kitchen either — Palmer is a culinary teacher in Charlotte who previously owned her own bakery — the team effort had a little bit of a learning curve.

“There were a couple of times I wanted to choke her,” Hammond said with a laugh. “I had to adjust my attitude.”

The contest called for a cake with a minimum of three tiers, but the cousins went all out with a five-tier cake that sought to be an embodiment of the holiday — decorative leaves painted in fall colors and a cornucopia on top among other decorations.

Will it be enough to earn the win? Tune in 9 p.m. Saturday to find out.

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