Spring Baking Championship rhubarb pies and carnival treats, review


In this week’s episode, Spring Baking Championship rhubarb pies and outrageous carnival treats seemed to have these talented bakers stumped.

Spring Baking Championship rhubarb pies had the bakers dreaming of the coveted winning blue ribbon. While rhubarb is a typical Spring ingredient, it can be a tricky to use correctly. Only a few pies found the right balance for that tart ingredient.

As this week’s Spring Baking Championship episode started, the nine remaining bakers fought for their “secret” pie ingredient. In an unlikely twist, all the bakers were making rhubarb pies. This ingredient isn’t necessarily the most popular pie.

Rhubarb, while delightful, can be difficult to use well. From the woody texture to the tart taste, these bakers need to find the right balance in these pies. Unfortunately, the majority of rhubarb pies were more honorable mentions than blue ribbon winners.

In addition to this tricky ingredient, the bakers had to make decorative pies. This requirement meant more than just a pretty, crimped crust. Unfortunately, some decorations were more abstract than picture perfect.

For the home baker viewer, the bakers had a few good tips for pie crusts. From using cold water to even why lard is better than butter, many of these ideas could help create a perfect pie. It is a little curious that the bakers had so many different ways to create a pie crust. Could the choice just be personal preference?

One of the most interesting parts of this challenge was the bakers’ inexperience with rhubarb. While many people automatically think of the strawberry and rhubarb pairing, other flavor combinations work well, too. It was curious that several bakers seemed thrown by this ingredient. That feeling definitely showed in their pies.

Host Clinton Kelly and judges Lorraine Pascale, Duff Goldman, and Nancy Fuller wait for the contestants to present their dishes from the pre-heat, as seen on Spring Baking Championship, Season 5. photo provided by Food Network

Several bakers were criticized for the rhubarb not being cooked enough. Other bakers didn’t have the right flavor balance. While pucker can be tasty, too much tart is never a good flavor. At least Food Network is challenging the bakers with ingredients this season.

While a few pies were decent, the Spring Baking Championship rhubarb pies weren’t totally blue ribbon worthy. The only baker who nailed the flavor combination was Saber. His Gateu Basque with rhubarb and hibiscus was definitely the best.

Although this pie was hugely successful, it wasn’t a typical dessert from Spring Baking Championship. While hibiscus is a food trend, this type of elevated dessert is more for Best Baker in America than this Food Network baking competition. Could Spring Baking Championship be going in a different direction?

For winning the pre-heat, Saber’s advantage in the main heat was the use of two pieces of kitchen equipment, the deep fryer and the popcorn popper. Given the theme of the main heat, the deep fryer was a huge advantage.

In the main heat, the bakers had to create outrageous county fair inspired desserts. With common county fair treats (think churros, fried candy bars, etc.), these bakers needed to take these flavors and go big, literally. This challenge was part execution and part creativity.

Looking at this challenge, these bakers were supposed to channel their creativity. They weren’t supposed to make a churros as big as your head. The challenge was to use the country treat as inspiration to make an imaginative dessert.

Of course, the main heat always has a twist. For this challenge’s twist, the bakers had to incorporate chocolate covered bacon. It was quite curious that the bakers really tried to avoid this ingredient. A salty, sweet element could have helped many desserts.

A couple of bakers really got the concept of this challenge. At this level, these bakers weren’t supposed to remake their version of the carnival treat. They needed to be inspired by the treat and build on it.


Cory did a wonderful job with his dessert. While he had never eaten fried cookie dough, he was able to capture those flavors and the carnival theme in his dessert. The St. Honore Tart looked like a carnival tent.

Additionally, the dessert had all the flavors of fried cookie dough. From the chocolate chip flavored pastry crème to the crunchy shell on the pate a choux, this dessert was definitely a top dessert and deserving of the win.

Also, Ricardo definitely impressed the judges. His riff on a caramel apple, a caramel apple semifredo was divine. With an immaculate texture and very clever interpretation, this dessert was a top choice.

With only two episodes aired, Ricardo has been a top choice twice. Could he be surging to front-runner status? Then again, it is only the second episode of this Spring Baking Championship season.

Unfortunately, two bakers missed the mark. This week Kevin and Jessica were in the bottom. While the flavors of these desserts were ok, the sweet treats missed the mark on the creativity level. That part of the execution was definitely lacking.

Kevin’s croquembouche looked like the leaning tower of Pisa. With a giant chocolate slab pushing it over, the visual wasn’t very appealing. The big piece of chocolate pancetta bark was a poor choice. Beyond the poor presentation, that bark flavor wasn’t good.

Additionally, the correlation between croquembouche and funnel cake was a stretch. There isn’t a fried dough element to a croquembouche. But, his pastry crème was lovely.

Jessica, the only home baker, missed the mark on this challenge. Her inspiration was Belgium waffles on a stick. She made Belgium waffles. This choice is not worthy of Spring Baking Championship.

If she was going to create waffles, those waffles better be the best waffles in the world. They needed to be special, different, Duff donkey kick worthy. These waffles did not fall into that category (they were even soggy).

The baker sent home this week was Jessica. It is sad that the only home baker is out of the competition, but her dessert wasn’t Spring Baking Championship worthy. When competing against these prestigious bakers, the desserts need to be exciting, innovative and on point.

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What did you think of Spring Baking Championship rhubarb pies and carnival treats? Did you stomach grumble at the sights of these sweet treats?