Day 40: On your Marks, Get Set, BAKE!

Welcome to the tent, Bakers… I mean – Bloggers. Today, we have a perfect baker’s dozen (that’s 13!) trips in the field, so we’re keeping it sweet by assigning a tasty treat to every trip. 

While contestants on the Great British Bake Off wake up in their beds and head to the baking tent for the day, our students popped out of their tents in the morning to get on with their adventures. It’s that time again where we jump in to hear about each trip and their impressive and awe-inspiring feats of the day. 

Also, if you are a frequent of the blog, you may be wondering, “What about the secret message from yesterday?!” Fear not! We haven’t forgotten! Click here to discover how we feel at the end of a trip when we have to say goodbye to our new friends…


Caribbean Service (CS)

For their showstopper challenge bake today, the CS crew is represented by Tembleque! Tembleque is one of the most popular desserts in Puerto Rico! It is a coconut pudding with a texture a bit like jello. It’s rich and creamy, but also has a bit of salt to cut the sweetness! 

Why have we chosen this sweet and salty treat? The CS crew volunteered at the Cabo Rojo salt flats today! While working with the Comité Caborrojeño Pro Ambiente y Salud (CCPAS), the group did trail maintenance, painting projects, and helped with other tasks. After a big day, they celebrated with a glow party in the van before heading back to the house for a mail stop. That day deserves a hand shake from Paul Hollywood! 

Maine’s Downeast Explorer (DEXA)

For the signature challenge today, our bakers are tasked with making a fruit-filled pastry of their choice. Our DEX friends are represented by the tried-and-true blueberry pie. It’s not a summer in Maine if you don’t go out and pick wild blueberries, and what better way to enjoy them than within a flaky, golden-brown crust with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Apogee has a plethora of adventures in the Pine Tree State, but none more iconic than our Downeast Explorer trip. Maine is not just home to the juicy little blueberries that fill our tummies all summer, but it’s also the first place to see the sunrise in the United States. DEX started out their day with a sunrise hike up Champlain Mountain followed by a tasty brunch back at camp. After that, the crew got some rest to prepare for the backcountry tomorrow! 

Vermont to Montreal A (VMA)

Gather round, Bakers, for today’s technical challenge. Today, you’ll be mixing flavors from the Northeast United States and the old city of Montreal. Under your tea towels you’ll find all the ingredients for Maple Butter Crepes. On your mark, get set, BAKE!

Our VM trip is unique to Apogee because it is the only trip to start in the US and end in another country! This allows for some awesome cross-cultural exchange. While it is not time yet for our Vermonters to cross the border, they’re quickly moving north with a big 27 mile-day into Shelburne! The group crushed their longest day yet and celebrated with time for swimming, games at camp, and a surprise pizza dinner!

Vermont to Montreal B (VMB)

For today’s bake, VMB is attempting the classic apple cider donut. These fried, but soft treats are everywhere in Vermont, including at farm stands that the group passes along the way. Bite in to taste the cider flavor and get your face covered in sugar. YUM! 

It’s very possible our VMB group may see some cider donuts at farm stands as they continue to roll through the countryside. Today they crushed about 20 miles to get to their new campground. On the way, they stopped through the cute town of Middlebury to enjoy a long lunch break before riding into camp to take a dip in the river. Tonight it’s Taco Wednesday!

Costa Rica Mountains & Coast (CRMC)

Costa Rica has a plethora of sweet treats to try when you visit, but for their signature bake, CRMC has Flan de Coco, a flan made with coconut milk and topped with fruit and chocolate shavings 

That last bit is important, not only because of the cacao plantations all over the country, but also because today, our CRMC team is attending a CHOCOLATE MAKING CLASS. That’s right folks, after hiking into the jungle backcountry to their ecolodge, the group attended a short class to make their own chocolate. I don’t know about you, but I think the judges may give them extra points for homemade ingredients!  Unfortunately, no photos while the group is at the ecolodge!

California Mountains & Coast (CMC)

You can’t go to California without enjoying some citrus. The CMC team is whipping up some Meyer Lemon Cake for their first challenge in the baking tent. Let’s just hope nothing curdles in this heat– that’s not part of Mary Berry’s recipe! 

Meyer Lemon is a cross between a Lemon and an Orange and it’s perfect for California’s climate! Know what else is perfect on a summer day in California? Backpacking at Point Reyes National Seashore! Today, the team put on their packs and set off along the shore towards their first campground, right next to the beach. After a rewarding first day, they took off their boots and put on their suits for swimming and beach time! You deserve it, team!


Alaska Mountains & Coast A (AKMCA)

If it was cookie week on bake-off, we know what AKMCA would make: Tongass Forest Cookies! These treats are native to Alaska and named after Tongass National Forest. They are usually dipped in Coffee in the morning, but are good as a coconutty snack too! 

While our Alaska team isn’t visiting Tongass, they do continue to enjoy Chugach State Park in their backcountry portion there. On the route, they’ll be crossing some streams, seeing some amazing wildlife, and enjoying views of the Chugach Mountains. Leaders Mac and Molly will be able to send some pictures after they head out of the backcountry tomorrow, but for now, Star Baker goes to AKMCA! 

Alaska Mountains & Coast B (AKMCB)

Bakers, it’s time for a celebration, which calls for wildberry birthday cake! Alaska is known for its seafood, but in August, the wildberries start growing all over the land. That’s because of the extended hours of sunlight allowing for more photosynthesis (and therefore growth) in this time of the year. 

What better way to use those berries than to bake a birthday cake! AKMCB is back from their overnight kayaking trip, which means photos and more updates from their last few days. During their time on the water, the group saw bald eagles, orcas, seals, otters, and seals! More importantly, they celebrated a birthday on trip (peep those balloons in the last photo)! The fun doesn’t stop there though, today the group went on a glacier hike and got suited up for ice climbing. They had a great time with their guides and learned some new skills before heading back to camp to get warm! Nice job, team – and stay tuned for glacier pictures in tomorrow’s post, readers!

Northwest Explorer (NWX)

While NWX stays in the US for their whole trip, today they are drawing inspiration from our friends next door, with their Nanaimo bars. These treats may have originated (and are still most popular) in Canada, but good old Washington-based Starbucks made them a hit in the US as well. 

NWX is killing it on their backcountry portion right now, which means they probably don’t have access to the graham cracker-pudding- buttercream dessert that represents them. But they have something better: the Northern Cascades (NoCa) as their backdrop and the starry skies as their ceiling. Today was a shorter, but still challenging hike for the group – they’ve got a few more days in NoCa, and they are taking it all in! 

Pacific Coast (PC)

After a long day of biking on the coast, these folks need to cool off! The PC team is creating an enormous ice cream cake to feed all 15 of them, plus the judges. 

Did you know that the most popular dessert in California is ice cream? And the most popular flavor is Rocky Road! Well, we’re hoping the roads weren’t too rocky today for our bikers! There were, however, some rolling hills as they crushed 47 miles today. Keep up the good work, PC team!

Alps Explorer A (AXA)

We all know that Switzerland is known for its chocolate, so it’s no surprise that one of the most popular Swiss desserts is Brusli, a Swiss chocolate cookie. Similar to a macaron, these tasty treats are made with almond flour, making them chewy with a bit of crunch on the outside. 

With all the miles AXA is putting in, they deserve some Brusli (or other, allergen-free treats, of course) on their rest day tomorrow. While stomping though their section of the TMB today, they got some gorgeous views of the Mont Blanc Massif. They also witnessed a cow crossing! Tonight, they’ll enjoy some rest after a big day! 

Alps Explorer B (AXB)

At the baking station next door, AXB is putting our their own swiss cookie to hopefully top the Brusli. Here, AXB is making traditional Leckerli, a spiced cookie with citrus and almonds. Although it’s a favorite around holiday time, they are a strong competitor all year round. 

In bake-off, the two Alps trips would be competing for who could make the best Swiss desserts. But just as bake-off contestants want each other to succeed and help each other out, these Alps friends cheer each other on from a distance. Today AXB continued their path on the TMB, where they got some spectacular views. Tonight they are staying indoors at another Italian rifugio – what luxury! 

Pyrenees Mountains and Coast (PMC)

Last but not least, the signature bake for the PMC crew is Huesos de Santo, which translates to “Bones of Saints.” These Marzipan-based treats were originally made by monks and nuns in monasteries. Once they became popular, they were made and sold elsewhere, but were given religious names. 

PMC is bringing these treats up to the judges today because they hiked up to a monastery today! After taking a break at the top to enjoy the views, they returned down the mountain for siestas, beach time, gelato, and an intense game of mafia! Buen trabajo (good job!).