Halloween Baking Championship recap: Are you sweet or savory?


In this week’s Halloween Baking Championship, the bakers need to see both sides of the pie. Can a dessert be both savory and sweet?

During the haunted season, Halloween Baking Championship tends to see both the sweet and not so sweet side to the dessert world. While those tempting confections are a work of art, sugar isn’t the only way to those judges’ hearts. Sometimes a little savory can be the flavor to push a baker to victory.

In this week’s episode, the bakers must impress the judges with two very difficult desserts. For the pre-heat challenge, the bakers had to create a crepe cake. These creepy crepe cakes required some expert techniques in the kitchen.

A crepe can be delightful filled with both sweet and savory ingredients, Unlike a pancake, a crepe doesn’t rise, which makes it thin and delicate. The filling flavors are balanced by the slightly crispy edges of the crepe.

For a crepe cake, a baker usually stacks 24-36 crepes with filling in between each layer to make a cake. In this challenge, each baker had a particular preserved fruit to use in the filling. Some fruits were easier to incorporate than others.

One big take away from this challenge that was overlooked was a simple statement that any and every baker (or chef) should remember. What grows together goes together. If two fruits or vegetables are the same season, those flavors generally go together. If you are ever stuck on a flavor combination, this idea is a great rule of thumb.

Host John Henson as seen on Halloween Baking Championship Season 5 Episode 4.photo provided by Food Network

Overall, the bakers did well with this rather difficult challenge. Although, it was clear that bakers who have made this style of cake previously definitely had more confidence in the kitchen.

Just watching the bakers in the pre-heat, it was clear that Karl and Pete would be the top two bakers. From Pete flipping his delicate crepes to Karl’s impeccable use of preserved lemons, it was clear that one of them would win.

While the judges might have loved Karl’s citrus forward crepe cake, Pete earned the win in the pre-heat challenge. His combination of fig and honey was a lovely contrast to the delicate layers of crepes. It was almost perfection.

On a side note, Jessica’s crepe cake probably had the most unlikely decorations that evoked some fun commentary from the judges. Her use of chocolate covered dates to look like beetles was smart for a Halloween challenge. Still, it was a little creepy.

Pete’s advantage for the main heat was the opportunity to choose his ingredient. Given the main heat’s theme, this advantage should have helped push him into next week. Being able to choose an ingredient this late in the Food Network competition is always helpful.

In the main heat, the bakers had to create a pumpkin pie that had both sweet and savory sides. Also, the dual pie had to incorporate some classic fall ingredients (Pete’s advantage). The pie needed to be decorated to show a split personality.

Of course, each main heat challenge has a twist. For this twist, the bakers had to use pumpkin seeds somewhere in the dessert.

A pumpkin pie can be somewhat controversial. While pumpkin spice foods seem to be everywhere in the fall, the classic pumpkin pie can be a little boring. More importantly, if that pie isn’t executed well, it is one sad desert.

Delicious pies start with a perfect crust. Although everyone has their preferred pie crust recipe, the flakey, delicate pie crust can make any pie just taste better. In this challenge, a few bakers missed the mark with the pie crust.

Additionally, the bakers had a challenge to get both the sweet and savory side of the pumpkin pie to meld together. Some ingredients were just more easily incorporated.

Everyone can see how pomegranate and pumpkin flavors complement each other. Pete’s choice, cream cheese, is another classic pumpkin combination. But, raisins were definitely a hard choice for Julie. Luckily, her creativity came through.

The biggest surprise in this challenge was the lack of decorating/presentation in all the pies. Granted, Karl over-achieved, again. Still, it seems that the bakers could have done more to visually create that dual pie personality.

Karl Fong checks the oven as seen on Halloween Baking Championship Season 5 Episode 4. photo provided by Food Network

Looking that the pumpkin pies, it was clear that Karl was in the top two, again. From the pomegranate gelée to the light, mousse texture, the pie impressed the judges.

More importantly, the decoration was spot on. The judges could clearly see both sides to this dessert story. Karl earned another Halloween Baking Championship win.

It appears that Karl is definitely the baker to beat. Somehow the baking ninja always finds a way to over-achieve in each challenge. But, will he continue that win streak?

Another top baker was Jessica. The judges appreciated her pie decoration. The two sides were clear.

More importantly, the judges loved her pie crust. By using grated lard, her pie crust was super flakey. With a touch of sage incorporated into the flavor profile, this pumpkin pie was a fall flavor homerun.

Julie did well enough to earn a spot for next week. While her decoration had a slight mishap, her use of raisins impressed the judges. More importantly, the pumpkin seed crumble in the ice cream definitely deserved a spot in next week’s Halloween Baking Championship episode.

Julie Montgomery, Karl Fong, Jessica Brockway, Jocelyn Jung, and Peter Tidwell prepare for elimination as seen on Halloween Baking Championship Season 5 Episode 4. photo provided by Food Network

Unfortunately, the bottom two bakers, Pete and Jocelyn, had technical errors. Even though Pete got to pick his second ingredient, he had a technical issue with his pie crust. An under-baked pie crust is a definite no on this Food Network competition.

Additionally, his decoration was underwhelming. At this point in the competition, the judges want more from the bakers. Simplicity does not earn a title.

Jocelyn had a huge execution issue. While her idea of combining Mexican Hot Chocolate and pumpkin pie sounded amazing, she did not complete her pie. The pie filling wasn’t set. The judges called it pumpkin pie nachos.

Even though the flavors were delightful and the pie crust was tasty, no one could overlook the pie soup. When the pie can’t even be cut, it was obvious that she would be the baker eliminated on this week’s episode.

Now that the competition is down to just four bakers, there is no room for mistakes. Even a favorite, like Karl, could fall in the next episode. Remember, bakers are only as good as their last dessert.

Of course, any Halloween Baking Championship recap has to talk about the judges’ costumes. This week’s winner was definitely Zac Young as Liza with Z!. Who knew that he could channel the infamous performer with such flare. Will Zac with a Z have some dance numbers in the next episode?

Related Story. Jonathan Bennett shares why fans are obsessed with this Food Network show. light

Who do you think will win this season of Halloween Baking Championship? Which Halloween dessert has impressed you the most?