Best Baker in America recap: Majestic meringues are breathtaking


In this week’s Best Baker in America recap, majestic meringues were as visually stunning as they were bursting with flavor. Still, one baker had to leave the kitchen.

With only five bakers left in this Best Baker in America recap, the bakers must be on top of their game. This week’s episode theme is meringues. Can the delicate yet magnificent meringue keep the bakers’ dreams alive or will they dreams fall flat?

This week’s Best Baker in America theme was quite technically difficult. Both the Skills Challenge and the Master Challenge focuses on meringue. While meringue can be made in different ways, the light, delicate texture is key to its success. Luckily these bakers were up to the challenge.

For the Skills Challenge, the bakers had to make mini meringue pies. A key to a delicious meringue pie is the balance of a flavorful curd to crust ratio. The crust needs to stand up to the brightness of the curd, but should not overpower it. Lastly, the meringue topping needs to be torched, but not burnt. A deft hand is needed for this challenge.

Judges Jason Smith and Marcela Valladolid with Host Scott Conant during the Skills Challenge, Mini Meringue Pies, Magnificent Meringue, as seen on Best Baker in America, Season 2. photo provided by Food Network

One of the keys for this challenge was getting the ratio of curd to meringue correct. In a larger pie, the meringue can be piled high. With mini pies, the amount of meringue is much less. Would these pies have enough sweetness to balance the tart curd?

Max made a huge mis-step in this challenge. By cutting slices of a pie, he avoided the whole mini meringue pie challenge. Although his flavors may have been nice, he didn’t complete the challenge. It was a big disappointment for him.

After last week’s near elimination, Adam soared back to the top. His mini meringue pies were visually stunning. While he needed more meringue per pie, the curd was silky and flavorful. Plus, his crust was flaky perfection. Adam won the Skill Challenge, again.

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For the Master Challenge, the bakers tackled a cake that many home bakers never try, the marjolaine. Referred to as the queen of cakes, a marjolaine is a difficult cake to master. Similar to a dacquoise, this rectangular, layered cake alternates between filling and a crisp meringue (dacquoise) layer. Glazed in chocolate, this regal dessert should be refined in both presentation and taste.

Since each Master Challenge comes with a flavor twist, the bakers had to incorporate raspberry into the marjolaine. Raspberry can be a difficult flavor for desserts. If the balance isn’t correct, the raspberry can be too tart. Finding the way to highlight the raspberry but not let it overpower the rest of the dessert is key.

Judges Jason Smith and Marcela Valladolid with Contestant Jean-Francois Suteau during the Master Challenge, Marjolaine, Magnificent Meringue, as seen on Best Baker in America, Season 2. photo provided by Food Network

One baker was extremely confidant, almost to a fault, in this challenge. Jean-Francois thought that he had this challenge in his back pocket. Of course, the French baker was familiar with the classic marjolaine, but he needed to execute his dessert properly.

Unfortunately, his dacquoise was a little soggy. Still, his flavors were lovely. Even more impressive was his chocolate decoration. Although the judges thought that the cake could be a little taller, the marjolaine was visually stunning.

My biggest problem with Jean Francois is that he brags about being done early. This week he had an espresso with Scott while everyone else was frantically trying to finish. Of course, Jean-Francois is an accomplished, esteemed baker. This choice was a little over the top and slightly rude.

The biggest surprise in this week’s challenge was LaSheeda. Although she had never made this cake before, she did extremely well. Her flavors were nearly perfect. The raspberry was prevalent but not overpowering. Plus, her dacquoise offered the crisp texture to complete the cake.

LaSheeda won this week’s Master Challenge. After a slow start, she has found her stride. Could LaSheeda take down favorite Adam? If she stays focused, LaSheeda could make the final.

Unfortunately, Max and Becca had the biggest mistakes. Max’s decorations were too dark. The dark chocolate was too dark in color. The sameness of color caused all the details to be lost. Also, his dacquoise was too spongy.

Becca took a risk with her marjolaine. The colored butter cream sides were bright and colorful, but took away from the classic dessert. While it was nice to see a baker try to step out of the box, this decision really altered the dessert. Also, the layers of the cake were just too thick. The thickness caused the flavors to be muddled.

Unfortunately, Becca was sent home. Based on the whole episode, I think that the judges should have eliminated Max. He didn’t complete the Skills Challenge correctly and he had errors in the Master Challenge. These two mistakes should have sent him home.

Next: Food Network's Gesine Prado offers simple baking advice

With only two episodes left, which baker will win the title? It is anyone’s game going into next week’s Best Baker in America recap. Could a little old school inspiration catapult them to the finish line? Check back next week for the recap.