On the second week of Christmas my true love sent to me, seven bakers baking...lol. I am gaining the Christmas spirit through my television viewing of Holiday Baking Championship!
Week Two's Theme: Classic Holiday Flavors
Fall flavors and spices such as cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin, caramel, chocolate, nuts, and apples remind me of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.
Heat One: Eggnog Swirl Dessert
The seven bakers were excited to hear Bobby Deen say they would be baking with eggnog and would have sixty minutes before the heat was over. However, most of the contestants were not thrilled that the eggnog had to be in a swirl dessert.
The Bakers' Dessert Choices
- Pastry Chef Bill Liscomb chose to make Baked Eggnog French Toast and serve it with swirled eggnog and maple syrup. Personally, I didn't think this qualified as an eggnog swirl dessert, but was a breakfast pastry or breakfast choice
- Naylet Larochelle, the home baker who won the Week One main heat, chose to prepare Swirled Pumpkin Tart with Eggnog Whipped Cream. Yum!
- Caterer David Bondarchuck decided upon Eggnog and Spiced Cake Swirl Cupcakes.
- Family Baker Dante Morasco's dessert of choice was Chocolate Espresso Obsession Eggnog Cheesecake. Seriously, I didn't understand the obsession part of the title. Is an obsession a new type of pastry? Am I that far off the web here in Mid-Missouri?
- Master Baker Punky Egan's choice was a streusel topped, Eggnog Pumpkin Swirl Muffin with Pumpkin Butter.
- Pastry Chef Terra Nelson immediately went with a brownie that featured a sweet potato puree and graham cracker crumb base. The top layer was reduced eggnog stabilized with white chocolate and, a Louisville, Kentucky staple, bourbon whiskey.
- Professional Baker Erin Campbell's choice was Sweet Potato Cheese Cake with Gingersnap Crust and Eggnog Anglaise.
Pastry Chef Duff Goldman, Chef Nancy Fuller, and Pastry Chef Lorraine Pascale were less than thrilled with the taste and/or presentations by:
- Dante - Judge comments included, "Where's the holiday?" The piped chocolate "modern" Christmas tree design on the plate didn't work.
- Erin - A kind comment for a rough presentation, "Not a looker, but delicious." Erin struggled with having a raw cheesecake and decided to put scoops of the cheesecake into small ramekins to finish baking.
- David - Unanimous agreement from the judges, "Frosting is waxy." "Pedestrian." Not what a professional baker wants to hear!
- Bill - His final presentation was beautiful BUT the eggnog wasn't the star. The judges agreed with my thought that French toast isn't a dessert and it wasn't swirled.
- Terra - Served a shooter of Mamaw's Spiked Eggnog with her upscale brownie. "Fab plate of food!" and "Redemption tastes good." were two of the comments bestowed upon Terra's dessert. Terra barely stayed in the competition last week. Redemption is indeed sweet.
- Naylet - The trio of judges all agreed the eggnog flavor was spot on. Duff Goldman asked her if she would teach him to bake. Straight faced humor from the Charm City Cake owner.
- Punky - A beautiful presentation and flavor.
And the Winner of Heat One is: Terra Nelson
Terra's main heat advantage? The use of an electric spice grinder. The other six bakers had to use a mortar and pestle to grind spices with. Cutthroat Kitchen's Alton Brown must have had something to do with this advantage!
The Main Heat Challenge
Each baker was challenged to make a dessert using three classic spices and two sugars in sixty minutes.
An electric spice grinder was a definite advantage because all of the classic spices were whole. Whole nutmeg, whole allspice berries, whole cloves, rolled cinnamon bark, and a variety of sugars were presented to the seven bakers at the beginning of the challenge.
A Bad Baking Day on National TV
- We all have bad baking days. However, most of us do not have a bad baking day on national television. Last week, Terra Nelson found out what this feels like.
- This week, it was Erin Campbell's turn to burn a batch of caramel three times AND had her beaten egg whites collapse into soup for her souffle. Her end product completely failed to impress the judges. What kept Erin in the competition? She took on an ambitious dessert and did not quit attempting to scale each barrier that could have prevented her from completing a dessert.
- Naylet cut herself twice in the first few minutes while grating a roll of dried cinnamon bark on a hand-held grater. However, she also kept baking after the medic bandaged her injured digits.
Seven Bakers Baking
- Cakelet with Peach Cranberry Compote by Naylet
- Spiced Bread Pudding Chocolate Souffle with Caramel Sauce by Erin
- Apple Nut Cake with Cream Cheese Drizzle by Terra
- Hamantaschen by Dante. A hamantaschen is a traditional Jewish cookie that is shaped like a triangular hat around a filling.
- Gingerbread Man Cookies by Punky
- Five Spice Orange Holiday Loaf by David
- Three Spice Creme Brulee by Bill
Bill - Nancy and Lorraine love the Creme Brulee. Duff said," it's about the process." and he felt the custard was a tad over baked.
Dante - Lorraine complemented Dante on his,"great pastry."
David - What a turn around from the first heat! David's bread was deemed,"Awesome!" by Duff Goldman. A lovely presentation with two wonderful sauces.
- Punky was the eliminated baker. Her soft,under spiced gingerbread men with whole spice decorations fell flat with the judges. All three judges expected more from a master baker and thought Punky played it too safe.
- Erin - Bad baking day, but she stayed in the competition.
The Week Two Winner: Bill Liscombe and his Spiced Creme Brulee.