Spring Baking Championship review: Mother Nature offers enticing treats


In this Spring Baking Championship review, the five remaining bakers find inspiration from Mother Nature. Which dessert enchanted the judges?

Ready for another Spring Baking Championship episode review? Since this week’s episode aired on Earth Day, it was fitting that the bakers found inspiration in nature. From bee-inspired honey flavored treats to enchanted forest cakes, this week’s episode was a celebration of nature’s beauty. But did one baker get stung by not following the theme?

For the pre-heat, the bakers had to create a honey and walnut dessert. While everyone had California Walnuts, each baker had a different honey. This challenge was a lovely way to showcase how honey can be very different.

The flavors of flower honey can be subtle, complex and even a little earthy. Understanding the various types of honey can change how a dessert is tastes. Yes, there is a difference between that little bear in your pantry and a local wildflower honey.

In addition to creating a delicious honey and walnut dessert, the bakers needed to have a bee decoration. Some bakers took this theme quite literally, with little bees on the plate. One baker took a more abstract approach.

After last week’s Easter Bonnet debacle, Ricardo made a strong comeback in the pre-heat. His use of a bubble wrap as a chocolate mold (to look like a bee hive) was superb. Of course, his flavors were on point, but the decoration got him back in a top position.

Cory was the only baker who took a non-literal approach to this challenge. While Cory has exceled in previous episodes, he did think outside of the box in his decoration. That choice was smart.

Additionally, Cory chose a slightly more savory dessert. Inspired by a traditional peanut butter and honey sandwich, he created a yellow and black striped sandwich. The filling was slightly savory but still sweet enough.

But, Cory’s brandy syrup was a little controversial. While Nancy happily sipped on her syrup toddy, Duff would rather pass. Given that Duff doesn’t drink, the flavor could have been to overpowering for him.

While the desserts all seemed impressive, Cory won the pre-heat. He was rewarded for his creativity in this challenge. From the slightly savory flavors to the not expected decoration, Cory really pushed himself in this challenge.

For winning the pre-heat, his advantage was a special basket of decorating tools for the main heat. While this advantage might not have seemed important, several of the other bakers might have jumped at this decorating basket.

Looking at the main heat, the bakers had to create enchanted forest cakes using a particular berry flavor. Both aspects of this challenge were quite difficult. From the decorating aspect to creating the right berry flavor balance, these bakers really needed to work hard to earn a spot in the final four.

Additionally, this week’s twist was edible moss. Last week, Ricardo’s edible moss was not well received by the judges. This week, it seems that everyone was using the foam/microwave cake idea to add edible moss to their cakes.

For the home bakers, who has made microwave foam cakes? It seems rather easy. But, no one ever says if the cake batter changes? If this cake is so easy, why haven’t home bakers been making this idea more often? Cake in minutes sounds like the perfect afternoon snack.

This week’s challenge had bakers either really excelling in the theme or missing the mark completely. The cake decorations seemed to separate the top from the bottom.

Given the various berry flavors, it would have seemed more likely that the berry flavors would have tripped up the bakers more. Finding the balance with boysenberries or lingonberries isn’t easy. While Cory’s gooseberries (probably the hardest of them all) were a touch sour, all the flavors were quite good.

The top two enchanted forest cakes were obvious. Ricardo and Cory were this week’s Spring Baking Championship top bakers. Both of them seemed to get the cute, but something mysterious, element to this challenge. It was almost as if the cakes channeled little fairy houses in the woods.

Cory’s cake looked like a little fairy house. While he didn’t use everything in his advantage basket, he did make a lovely cake. It fit the challenge and it was smart.

Ricardo definitely redeemed himself, again, after last week’s mess. While I personally didn’t appreciate the shape and look of the mushrooms, the other decorations were lovely. The chocolate bark was smart and he nailed the theme.

Additionally, Ricardo probably had the best cake. The texture from the streusel on the bottom of the semi-fredo added dimension to the cake. The contrasting textures shows his deft hand at pastry and completely wowed the judges.

This week’s winning baker was Ricardo. He definitely redeemed himself and has a lot of momentum going into the next episode.

In addition to Cory, Karina was also safe. While her cake had a lot of interesting techniques (the matcha moss was well received), the flavors needed a little more of a boost. Still, she earned her spot in the final four.

Contestnat Saber Reibi discusses his dish with host Clinton Kelly in the pre-heat, as seen on Spring Baking Championship, Season 5. photo provided by Food Network

The bottom two bakers were both a surprise and expected. Saber has been a favorite throughout this Spring Baking Championship season. He has wowed the judges with creative approached, impeccable flavors and visually stunning desserts. This week, Saber seemed to have misunderstood the challenge.

If a person could choose a word to describe Saber, it would be happy. He is always smiling, good natured and having fun. Having him try to convey a slightly dark, mysterious enchanted forest cake didn’t work.

Visually, Saber’s dessert looked like a lovely Mother’s Day dessert. The Charlotte looked like a vibrant floral basket. No little elf or fairy would use this basket at her hideaway. Yes, the cake was visually beautiful, but it didn’t fit the challenge.

It could be that Saber didn’t understand the challenge. It is quite possible that his interpretation was just unclear. But, the bakers need to follow the theme in Spring Baking Championship.

While the visual was off, Saber’s flavors were spot on. The berries were the absolute star. It was the perfect bite of sweet and tart.

The other bottom baker was Tracy. In several challenges, Tracy has struggled with her decorations. Her color choices are often too saturated or muddled. This week’s design was equally confusing.

The judges commented that Tracy’s cake had too many missteps. She didn’t appear to have a clear vision. From her bear missing a nose to the overuse of luster dust, this cake didn’t have visual appeal.

Additionally, Tracy’s cake seemed to be lacking as well. While it was a nice boysenberry flavor, the cake needed texture or crunch. Although the cake was moist, it needed more.

The baker sent home on this week’s Spring Baking Championship was Tracy. It was time for her to go home. When faced between Saber and Tracy, even Saber’s bad day was better than Tracy’s good day.

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Only four bakers remain in this Spring Baking Championship season. Which baker do you think has an advantage and could walk away with the title?