ZEELAND — A small-town baker has earned an impressive honor, claiming the title of champion during the first-ever Silos Baking Competition in Waco, Texas.
The competition aired on Magnolia Network — owned by Warner Bros. Discovery and Chip and Joanna Gaines of “Fixer Upper” — on Sunday, June 12, and remains available to stream on Discovery+.
Chip and Joanna own several businesses under the Magnolia name, including a remodeling and design firm, a realty brokerage and a high-end furniture store. But located just next door to Magnolia Market is Silos Baking Co.
The little white building was remodeled by Chip and Joanna during season four of “Fixer Upper” and now carries Joanna’s personal recipes. This year, the couple decided to invite six bakers from across the country to compete for a chance to win $25,000 and have their treat featured on the bakery’s summer menu.
Annie Paul was one of them.
Paul is the owner of wholesale bakery A P Baked Goods in Zeeland. She’s a West Michigan native, and she’s always had a sweet tooth.
“My mom or grandmother would be baking and I’d be waiting for them to turn away, so I could sneak some cookie dough,” she said. “When I was seven, I wanted to bake on my own. I asked for an Easy-Bake Oven, but my parents told me I could use the regular oven. I fell right in love with it.”
Paul worked in bakeries and restaurants into adulthood, making wedding cakes and other baked goods on the side.
“When I got married, my husband was like, maybe you should focus on this,” Paul said. “We were house hunting in 2019 and we found the perfect space to open our licensed kitchen, so I went for it.”
The relatively small town has been a change of pace for Paul, who grew up just outside of east Grand Rapids.
“I love it here, though,” she said. “Everyone is so friendly.”
In her bakery, Paul makes French and country-inspired pastries and breads. But how did she get involved with Silos Baking Competition? She has her daughter to thank.
“She was teething,” Paul said. “It was one of those times when I knew I wasn’t going to be able to lay her down. She fell asleep on me, and I knew I was going to be stuck for at least an hour. So, I’m scrolling through social media and I see Joanna Gaines posted a story calling all bakers.”
She entered the recipe for her recently altered Summer Berry Bar.
“The original recipe was an apple bar I created a few years back,” Paul said. “But last summer, my daughter and I were picking strawberries and we picked way too many, so I converted the recipe to use the strawberries and it stuck.”
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She never expected to hear anything back.
“But I did,” she said. “It was wild, how it all happened. It was intimidating and nerve-wracking, but everyone was so kind. The crew, the other contestants, Chip and Joanna. I was excited to be there and be part of it.”
During the competition, the six chosen bakers recreated their recipes outside.
“There was a huge crowd watching and cheering,” Paul said. “It was wild — you don’t get to bake outside every day. We had three hours to prepare our recipe and present to the judges. They tried it, chose the top three, and then chose the winner.”
If Paul didn’t expect to be chosen as a contestant, she certainly didn’t expect to win.
“I didn’t think about winning,” she said. “It took a while to sink in, for sure. It was a surreal experience.”
And the grand prize?
“I was given a ton of awesome opportunities by bosses and supervisors when I was getting started,” Paul said. “It’s really important to me, and my husband, to use that money to give back, whether that’s helping people train in a bakery or partnering with someone. We want to give back to youth, especially.”
Interested in trying some of Paul’s creations? Even though A P Baked Goods is mostly wholesale, Paul offers pre-order pickup once a month, posting a menu to her website and social media.
“I’d love for local people to know, even though it’s not a stop-in bakery, we do those pre-orders,” she said. “We don’t want to waste, so this allows us to make just the right amount. After our second child is born in September, we might expand that.”
In the meantime, Paul is still taking it all in.
“I was just so honored,” she said.
Learn more about A P Baked Goods at apbakedgoods.com.
— Contact reporter Cassandra Lybrink at cassandra.l[email protected]. Follow her on Instagram @BizHolland.