Best Baker in America review: Can French desserts be re-imagined?


In this week’s Best Baker in America review, classic French desserts are being re-invented. Can the reinvention be better than the original?

Best Baker in America takes a creative approach in this week’s episode. In the two challenges, the bakers needed to reinvent some classic French desserts. While creativity can be rewarded in the kitchen, the question becomes should these desserts be reinvented?

For this week’s Skills Challenge, the bakers were tasked with re-imagining the éclair. While the term #reclairs was bantered about, these desserts were a little confusing. How can a baker really invent this dessert, both visually and flavor wise?

A classic eclair has perfectly baked choux dough, a shiny glaze and immaculate decoration. In most cases, the éclair as a classic tubular shape. For this challenge, the bakers’ eclairs had some successes and many missteps.

Listening to the judges’ commentary was rather funny. From Eric’s baked potato looking s’mores inspired éclairs to Marian’s Elvis inspired eclairs, these bakers were trying to be creative. Luckily, the flavors excelled over the visuals.

Even though the judges’ joked about Eric’s eclairs, his dessert was on point. The graham cracker cookie butter sounds amazing and the flavor combination was creative. Although not the winner, he deserved high marks in this challenge.

After hearing all the judges’ commentary, the Skills Challenge winner was obvious. Joshua adds another win to his ever growing accolades. His eclairs that used black cocoa butter were elevated, had great balance of flavors and definitely reinvented the éclair.

Host Scott Conant introduces the Master Challenge, as seen on Best Baker in America, Season 3. photo provided by Food Network

Going into the Master Challenge, Joshua and Eric have consistently been top bakers. They seem to understand the concept of this Food Network baking competition. It is part creativity, part execution and part showmanship. All three elements working together are required to earn the Best Baker in America title.

For the Master Challenge, the bakers were tasked with reinventing the entremet. An entremet cake is a multi-layered mousse cake with a mirror glaze. Even though an entremet is a reinvented version of a classic cake, these bakers need to find a way to make this classic French dessert innovative, refreshing and different.

Additionally, almond has to be the featured flavor. While there are many flavors that pair well with almond, making almond the star is difficult. In some cases, almond can be overpowered by the other flavor pairings.

Given the layers, mirror glaze and concept of an entremet, there isn’t a whole lot that can be re-imagined. While two bakers, Julia and Jeffery, tried to think outside of the box, the end result was a little wonky. Granted, the limited time for this challenge makes any real re-imagination scenario quite difficult.

After all the entremets were revealed, the two top bakers were clearly Joshua and Eric. Both baker excelled in flavor and presentation.

It was quite curious that both bakers had similar flavor combinations, almond and cherry. Did that flavor combination give the bakers an edge?

Eric’s almond milk mousse was a huge hit. The creativity, texture and flavor wowed the judges. While he did get dinged for this chocolate work lacking height, they loved his pink camouflage glaze.

Joshua excelled in the creativity level. Adding candied almonds to a pitted cherry was genius. That type of little detail definitely makes the judges’ take notice.
Overall, Joshua’s entremet was elegant, totally re-imagined and on point. From highlighting the almond to his various textures, Joshua earned his praise.

For the second week in a row, Joshua won the Master Skills challenge. So far this season, he has dominated the competition. Will everyone be hoping for him to make a mistake?

Then again, Eric has been a top baker, too. I wouldn’t count him out of the competition.

The two classical trained French pastry chefs, Julia and Jeffery, were passed through to next week. While their desserts were ok, they had mistakes. Still, those mistakes weren’t as bad as the bottom two bakers.

Landing in the bottom two were Marian and Michael. Both bakers had several technical mistakes. From decorative issues to flavor misses, these two desserts deserved to be in the bottom.

Marian failed with her flavors. She should not have used dried apricot. Also, her layers were uneven and the loaf shape was not appealing.

Michael’s entremet seemed to be imploding into itself. The layers were not set, which caused a major structural issue.

While he tried to be innovative with his flavors, blueberry, earl grey tea and almond, the technical issues were hard to overcome. Add to that factor the overpowering whipped cream taste, the judges had their choice.

The Best Baker in America baker sent home was Michael. With two mis-steps this week, the choice was clear for the judges.

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What did you think of the Best Baker in America reinvented French dessert episode? Is a front runner emerging in the Food Network baking competition?