Halloween Baking Championship winner survived the zombie apocalypse


Three bakers braved a Food Network zombie apocalypse but only the Halloween Baking Championship winner walked away with the ultimate prize.

Who was crowned the Halloween Baking Championship winner? Three bakers craved the Food Network title, but two terrifying challenges stood in their path. Which baker fought his way to the title?

Throughout Halloween Baking Championship Season 5, the challenges have balanced creativity and difficulty. In the finale, the bakers needed to excel in that delicate balance. These two finale challenges really had the bakers pushing their skills.

For the pre-heat challenge, the bakers had to create a croquembouche, or in this case a ghost-embouche. The cream puff tower needed to be ghost themed.

While the bakers had three hours to create the croquembouche, it seemed like the creations were less ghostly than what they could have been. Although some of the designs had some nods to the ghosts, these creations were far spooky.

Looking at each of the ghost-embouche, the cream puff towers were a little small. While there was limited time, it would have seemed that the finale would have had the bakers go a little bigger.

While Jessica had a good idea of using the crackle cookie and sugar pearls to add color and texture, her cream puffs weren’t baked well. The whole tower looked a little smooshed and more like a bread basket. Although the black spun sugar was nice, it was clear that her ghost-embouche wasn’t going to win.

Karl pushed his offering with flavor. The Spanish creawm de catalan was a lovely choice. Who would have thought to have that flavor with a orange, star anise pate a choux.

It is clear that Karl is a great baker. His pate a choux was perfect and his decoration was on point. The only complaint was that his caramel was a little too gummy.

Pete had the most ambitious design. Using the leftover dough to create his decorations, the ghost-embouche was picture perfect. It really captured the ghostly feel.

The biggest surprise in Pete’s dessert was his caramel. Initially the judges felt that the caramel might be too much. Instead, the caramel was the star of the plate. That caramel won Pete the pre-heat.

For winning the pre-heat, Pete’s advantage was that he could choose his theme and the other bakers’ themes for the final challenge. In some ways, this advantage should be quite helpful. No one wants a bad theme that they can’t execute.

In the main heat, the bakers had to create a zombie cake that actually oozed, spurted and gushed blood (or a red edible substance). While the bleeding zombie was great for television, there is a little something odd about this concept. Does anyone really want to eat a bleeding cake?

Peter Tidwell paints his brain as seen on Halloween Baking Championship Season 5 Episode 6. photo provided by Food Network

Since the bleeding zombie cake was the finale, it is curious that the bakers didn’t have any requirements other than the bleeding aspect. There was no required flavor or ingredient.

Additionally, there was no twist. In some ways, this bleeding zombie cake might have been one of the most straightforward challenges of the season.

Pete assigned bleeding brain to himself, bleeding eyes to Jessica and bleeding heart to Karl. Jessica probably had the easiest concept. Poking holes into eyes and having them bleed is definitely achievable by these bakers.

Although everyone was lead to believe that Karl had an edge in the finale (he was the baker who had the most top finishes this season) anything can happen in the Halloween Baking Championship finale. It is a little curious that there were so few disasters this season. Maybe the baking talent is just getting better or the bakers are getting competition smart.

Looking at the three finale cakes, they were all very different. Pete took a funnier, less scary approach to this design. The zombie looked more like a cartoon zombie than Halloween Horror Nights zombie.

Still, his bleeding brain design was impressive. That ooze really got the judges screaming.

But, his cake was controversial. Zac commented that he thought the cake was more like a muffin. Carla and Katie enjoyed the more nostalgic cake. It seems that the lemon, blueberry poppy seed was not the obvious choice for the finale.

Jessica chose to push the flavors in the finale. Her pear cake had lots of pear flavor. While this ingredient can be difficult, she mostly pulled it off. Although the cake read a little heavy, it was  successful.

The judges appreciated the bloody eyes of her zombie and the color palate. A few of her details, like the peeling skin, were a nice touch. Still, it didn’t necessarily have the wow factor like the other two cakes.

Lastly, Karl went over the top on his finale cake. The zombie had a nod to the final bakers in the design. From the eyeballs to the brains, it was a smart design choice on his part.

Additionally, Karl’s bleeding heart was insane. The spurting ooze from the anatomically correct heart was something from a horror movie, or from Halloween Wars. It really was visually impressive.

Regarding this cake flavors, Karl was smart with those choices, as well. His devils food cake with blood orange curd was a nice nod to the zombie theme. Although Zac didn’t think the cake needed the simple syrup soak, the cake was definitely a hit.

Karl Fong adds eye details as seen on Halloween Baking Championship Season 5 Episode 6. photo provided by Food Network

In the end, only one baker would be crowned Halloween Baking Championship winner and earn the $25,000 prize. Winning this Food Network title was Karl. While Pete made a big push for the win, he came up just short.

Given the Halloween Baking Championship season as a whole, Karl had the most impressive showing. The majority of challenges had him finishing in the top positions. Also, he showed a lot of variety throughout the season.

Now that the Halloween Baking Championship winner has been announced, it is time to move onto Holiday Baking Championship. Don’t forget to tune in next week for the new season on Food Network.

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Did you agree with the Halloween Baking Championship winner? Which was your favorite Halloween dessert this season?