Spring Baking Championship Season 4 episode 1 recap: Ombre delights


Ten hopeful bakers entered the Food Network kitchen dreaming of Spring Baking Championship glory. The first episode had the kitchen exploding with color.

Just like nature, Springtime is bursting with color. Brightly colored flowers add vibrancy. The baked treats often mimic those beautiful hues. In Spring Baking Championship Season 4 episode 1, the bakers had to bring the color to their delicious treats.

Like any first episode in a Food Network competition series, fans aren’t quite sure what to expect. The mix of both professional and home bakers doesn’t necessarily give an advantage to one group over the other. Sometimes the professional bakers over think their treats and the at home bakers excel in the creativity.

Just like previous seasons, the pre-heat challenge has the bakers competing for a main heat advantage. The pre-heat challenge had bakers creating tie-dye cheesecakes. Each of the cheesecakes incorporated a fruit flavor, too. While the fruit and color combination seems like a good idea, the execution was a little lacking.

Contestant Heather discusses her dish plans with host Ali Khan in the pre-heat challenge, as seen on Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship Season 04

These cheesecakes were more epic fails than stunning desserts. For the most part, the tie-dye was either over mixed or non-existent. While the color component was important, it seemed that it was more important than taste.

The flavors in these cheesecakes seemed all over the rainbow. While some components were good, no one seemed to knock it out of the kitchen. Maybe the first challenge had everyone way too nervous.

Cristina won the pre-heat challenge with her sea inspired, blueberry cheesecake. In the main heat, she was able to choose her ingredient first. But, would this advantage propel her to a double victory?

Host Ali Khan announces the rules for the main heat challenge, as seen on Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship Season 04

For the main heat challenge, the bakers had to create naked ombre cakes. First, a naked cake means that it doesn’t have icing, fondant or other covering on the side of the cake. The layers of the cake are visible. Second, the ombre effect is created by stacking cake layers in different color gradients. Usually with the darkest color on the bottom, the layers gradually have a lighter hue going up to the top.

While creating a naked ombre cake is hard, the bakers had an even more difficult task. Each baker had a savory herb to include in the cake. Some herbs were more sweet favorable and others were not so tasty. Even though all these herbs can have a sweet approach, some bakers seemed overwhelmed by the ingredient twist.

Some of these cakes and flavor combinations should have been impressive in both taste and appearance. Unfortunately, only a couple of cakes exceled.

Deepal’s lemon and sage cake was very pretty. More importantly, the cake had balanced flavor. The sage level was on point.

Aaron had one of the more difficult herbs, parsley. The cake’s flavor was definitely not normal. The lemon pepper parsley cake honestly worked. While no one would probably order this cake, it somehow exceled.

Also, Aaron clearly won the 3D chocolate decoration requirement. His chocolate spheres were hands down the winner.

Since each baker is only as good as her current cake, Cristina’s ombre cake landed her in the bottom. Her cake had difficulties with both execution and flavor. Her mousse was too loose and the layers tumbled. The rosemary flavor wasn’t balanced to the sugar level. Her cake was very disappointing.

The judges examine contestant Caleb’s dsih from the pre-heat challenge, as seen on Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship Season 04

Michelle earned a huge distinction. According to Duff, she has now baked the strangest thing he has eaten on the show. Michelle incorporated coriander into a salsa sponge cake. The cake was completely savory. If the cake had some spice, it could have been slightly better.

Luckily, Melissa earned her special distinction on Spring Baking Championship Season 4 episode 1 because she was the first baker eliminated. In both challenges, Melissa did poorly. Someone has to be eliminated on the first episode. Who knows if Melissa just had a bad day or was really that bad?

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For home bakers, the ombre idea is a fun one to recreate. The color gradient isn’t too hard to recreate. Even a three layer ombre cake could make for a fun Easter dessert.

While the color effect is often done with food coloring, it could be interesting to see how natural ingredients could create the same effect. Carrots, beets and other ingredients could off natural coloring for this ombre effect. The key would be to find the flavor balance within the color additions.

Next: KitchenAid launches inaugural color of the year at IHHS

Since this episode was the first one of Spring Baking Championship Season 4, it is hard to determine potential frontrunners. This season could be filled with insane challenges, unexpected eliminations and some stunning creations.

What are you hoping to see in Spring Baking Championship Season 4? Share your thoughts in the comments section.