Chef Sherry Yard and Spice Girls star Emma Bunton join the competition show.

By Jessica Fecteau
December 05, 2018 11:02 AM

“On your marks, get set, bake!”

The Great American Baking Show is returning to television on Thursday with a holiday edition of the sweet competition—and we’ve got a sneak peek at all the action.

In the exclusive clip, contestants from around the country are given their first holiday-themed signature bake challenge: a full-sized, single layer coffee cake.

“The perfect coffee cake, it’s moist yet the crumb falls apart,” says Sherry Yard, a James Beard Award-winning pastry chef, who is new to the show this season along with Spice Girls singer Emma Bunton. “So this is a very difficult challenge because you got to balance that.”

Baker, cookbook author and judge Paul Hollywood describes exactly what he’s looking for from the contestants: “We’re asking the bakers to create a sponge with a swirl of filling. For me, it’s about the stark contrast between the sponge and the beautiful filling spiraling through the whole mixture.”

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Excitement was in the air as the contestants got started and one woman shared her love for Yard before beginning to bake: “Sherri has been a huge influence in my baking. Meeting her in person is awe-inspiring and something I never even in a million years thought would be possible.”

Bunton serves as a host this season alongside returning host Anthony “Spice” Adams.

Last season of the American adaption of the Great British Bake Off was taken off the air when allegations of harassment were brought against former judge Johnny Iuzzini by his employees. (The chef responded in a statement last December, saying, “I am shattered and heartbroken at the thought that any of my actions left members of my team feeling hurt or degraded. More importantly, I am deeply sorry to those who felt hurt.”)

Because of the cancellation, viewers never got to see amateur baker Vallery Lomas take home the winning title in season three. Get her recipe for Chocolate Dipped Orange Madeleines here.

The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition premieres Thursday, Dec. 6 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.