This week on Food Network's Holiday Baking Championship, host Jesse Palmer challenged the remaining 7 contestants to create mini pies from brie and homemade jam and incorporate uninspiring prepared ingredients in to delicious cakes. While Palmer enjoyed his brie a little too much, the judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascale were in some type of collective hostile mood.
While the judges are typically very kind in their constructive criticism, this week, they all seemed like the caught the same disapproving vibe, and nothing met their standards. They were critical of their being not enough cheese in the mini cakes, complained about the consistency of jam and too much chocolate, pies were too sweet, and some creations didn't succeed in technique. Maybe the holiday blues caught up with them?
Holiday Baking Championship consists of two rounds:
● Round #1 – Pre Heat: Contestants are given up to two hours to create a small tasty treat. No eliminations this round, but the winner gets an advantage going in to round two.
● Round #2 – Main Heat: Competitors are asked to bake a specific cake/pie with a curve ball thrown in later in the round. The tastiest and most visually appealing creation wins the challenge, the loser is given the boot.
Each episode a losing contestant is eliminated. The winner receives $25,000.
Here are some of highlights from episode 4 "Transcending Turkey Day":
● Round 1 "Brie and Jam Mini Pies": contestants were given the cheese ingredient, however had to make their assigned jams from scratch. Overall all contestants according to the angry judges didn't incorporate enough brie.
● The spice pear and brie pie although beautiful was not actually a mini pie, but rather pieces of a larger pie
● The blueberry/lemon and blackberry and thyme mini pies were absolutely stunning in execution, and were perfect bites, but missed the mark on infusion of the main ingredients
● The blood orange tart was won for both creativity and taste and the contestant did a happy dance gaining an advantage in round two to have first pick of the prepared ingredient.
● Round 2: competitors were challenged with using ingredients like boxed cake mix, crescent rolls, and pumpkin butter to create their perfect dessert. I thought the cakes/pies were lovely, especially the puff pastry pumpkin pie which reminded me of my grandmothers, the judges, did not agree.
● The chocolate chip cookie dough tart had too much chocolate (how is that a bad thing?); the cookie butter coffee cake did not have enough coffee; and the chocolate hazelnut spread cupcake was too sweet and required some rum.
● Yellow box cake mix inspired sweet potato pie was thrown out of the kitchen for technical issues with the crust and "an empty cranberry taste", while the win went to the crescent roll deep fried cheesecake, which to me appeared very busy in presentation, but tasted very good. Everything does taste better fried.
This week's episode had me very confused, probably because of the shift in the judges' response to the contestants. Not sure if the over-abundance of negative commentary was due to a collective bad day, or the contestants really didn't give it their all. With the number being down to 6 next week, the hope is that they blow away the judges and redeem themselves.