Spring Baking Championship Season 4 episode 2: Flower power


From a bright blooms to whimsical gardens, the bakers’ treats on Spring Baking Championship Season 4 episode 2 were in full bloom.

Host Ali Khan announces the time left in the pre-heat challenge, as seen on Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship Season 4

With just one episode behind them, the bakers are just finding their footing in this season of Spring Baking Championship. Although the first episode was a rainbow-colored delight, Spring Baking Championship Season 4 episode 2 had the bakers wishing for a spring do-over. Floral blooms and garden delights needed a few decorative upgrades.

For the past couple of years, cupcakes have been everywhere. Whether filled or piled high with icing, these small little treats are becoming more and more elaborate. In the pre-heat challenge, the bakers had to create a floral cupcake bouquet incorporating floral flavors.

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Looking at this challenge, it seemed like the flavors should have been the hardest obstacle to tackle. While some flavors, like honeysuckle and orange blossom, lend themselves to baking, a few flavors are more difficult to balance. A floral flavor can add some brightness and depth to a cupcake. The problem becomes when that floral flavor is too overpowering. No one wants a cupcake that tastes like potpourri.

Overall, all the bakers did quite well in this challenge. If there was only flavor criticism, it was that the floral flavors were sometimes muted. Although too little of a floral flavor seems better than an overpowering one.

The judges examine contestant Nacho’s completed dish from the pre-heat challenge, as seen on Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship Season 4

The biggest difference between the bakers came with the decorative elements. Creating a floral cupcake bouquet didn’t seem like a hard task. Given the limited timeframe, the bakers’ bouquets were more novice creations than expert designs. Although better than a typical home baker’s design, only one bouquet was picture perfect.

Christina’s floral wreath was absolutely stunning. Her intricate flowers and deft decorating outshined the other bakers. It was quite clear that she would win the pre-heat challenge. Christina won last week’s pre-heat, too. She has a streak going. While she does well in the pre-heat, it remains to be seen if she can do as well in the main challenge.

As the winner of the pre-heat challenge, Christina received an advantage in the main heat. Her advantage was a box of decorating tools. While these items seemed like an advantage, she still has to execute the challenge well. A box of decorations can’t help with a poorly baked cake.

The main heat challenge had the bakers create a replica of a mirror ball. Many people have seen those reflective balls in a garden. This challenge is particularly hard because of two factors, the shape and the mirror glaze.

Contestant Heather discusses her dish with host Ali Khan in the main heat challenge, as seen on Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship Season 4

First, the shape, a circle, is hard for bakers. A dome cake or a sphere cake is hard to create under the best of circumstances, not just in this limited time frame. While the bakers didn’t have to create an exact circle, many of the bakers had big missteps with the shape.

One major issue happened with three bakers. Jessica’s cake mistakenly fell in the blast chiller. While it was an accident, the event caused havoc. Granted, the other two cakes probably wouldn’t have been in contention for a win. Still, those cakes didn’t fulfill the challenge.

The key to creating a sphere cake is finding the right balance. One gigantic ball of cake isn’t going to be a smart choice. The cake is probably going to be dense. While a cake pop scenario could work, the cake pop needs to be the right size. A better choice would be a cake and mousse combination.

Given the very limited time frame, the bakers who opted for smaller, round-like desserts seemed to fair better. The smaller sizes seemed to work better in this challenge. While no one seemed to truly offer a magnificent cake, some spheres were better than others.

The second factor of the main heat challenge was the mirror glaze. The key to a great mirror glaze is the shiny reflection from the glaze itself. Since many of the cakes seemed to disappoint on the shape element, the judges didn’t seem too hard on the bakers’ mirror glaze.

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Looking at the mirror glazes, the majority of them weren’t the best. Some glazes didn’t cover the cakes well. Other glazes were too heavy. It didn’t seem that any of these glazes had that perfect reflective sheen.

Although the challenge itself was quite difficult, the bakers had to incorporate the episode’s twist. This week’s main heat twist was adding an edible gnome to their garden. For all of the bakers, the gnome was a disaster. Some gnomes looked like Santa, a few were just gnome hats and one didn’t even look like anything. Again, due to the bakers’ issues with just making a sphere, the judges were less harsh on the gnome requirement.

The top bakers of the garden gazing balls were Aaron and Ruby. Both bakers shined with flavor. While the appearance might have had flaws, the flavors impressed the judged. With more misses than hits, the judging didn’t seem too stringent.

Aaron’s cake was recognized because of his unique pastry cream. The brown butter cream cheese pastry was said to be genius. The flavor combination was a new and that helped propel him to the top. Granted, this mirror glaze was a little wonky. Still, his flavor combination helped him be recognized as one of the better cakes.

The winner was Ruby’s gazing ball. Her risky flavor combination of fennel, raspberry and chocolate was balanced perfection. While not the traditional flavor combinations, the pairing was balanced. Although her decorations, especially her gnome, wasn’t extremely impressive, the flavors wowed the judges. Given all the cakes in the competition, her gazing ball was the best in the Spring Baking Championship garden.

The judges examine contestant Deepal’s completed dish from the main heat challenge, as seen on Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship Season 4

Jessica’s cake was a huge disaster. While her flavors of blood orange and white chocolate mousse were quite delightful, her presentation as a mess. Judge Nancy Fuller commented that her cake looked like an Easter ham. Even with the blast chiller accident, the cake was a mess before the debacle. The color choice was not appealing. Although I wasn’t thinking Easter ham, I was thinking cheese ball. No one wants a cheese ball cake.

The other bottom baker was Andrew. Andrew’s cakes failed on both flavor and decoration. First, his gnome was more abstract art than a reference to a gnome. If anyone saw gnome from those decorated cookies, she was trying really hard.

More importantly, Andrew’s cake pop was the size of a meatball. Cake pops are meant to be a single, or maybe 2, bites. His cake pop needed a fork and a knife. Additionally, the cake’s texture was incredibly dense. The custard filling wasn’t proportional to the cake. While the coconut and pineapple flavors referenced spring, the presentation and execution was a mess. Andrew was sent home.

Spring Baking Championship Season 4 episode 2 was slightly disappointing. While the pre-heat challenge was quite pretty and impressive, the main heat was a huge disaster. It is unclear is the bakers just didn’t know what to do, don’t have enough skills, or didn’t have enough time to complete this challenge. Each season there is always a challenge that has everyone stumped. Hopefully, this challenge is the one and all the bakers can move onto better bakes.

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What did you think of Spring Baking Championship Season 4 episode 2? The floral bouquet cupcakes could be a fun idea for Easter or Mother’s Day. With a little help from a decorating kit, the kids could even attempt a simplified version. Were you inspired to bake from this episode?