Holiday Baking Championship review: What is a Kransekake?


Holiday Baking Championship is back on the Food Network. In this first episode, which bakers make the judges feel merry and bright with their tasty holiday desserts?

Are you ready to start holiday baking? The new Holiday Baking Championship season is here and these bakers are ready to impress the Food Network fans and the celebrity judges. But will that merriment be short lived for one of these 10 baking hopefuls?

In this new season, the fan favorite judges return. Duff Goldman, Nancy Fuller and Lorriane Pascal all share their opinions on these tasty holiday desserts. It is clear that all three have very different opinions, but that commentary makes this Food Network show entertaining.

Over the years, Holiday Baking Championship serves as both entertainment and baking inspiration for many foodies. While the show has pushed some chefs in the spotlight (remember Jason Smith is a Holiday Baking Championship champion), the show inspires home bakers with some amazing tips, tricks and treats. Are you ready to dive in?

For the first pre-heat challenge of the season, the 10 bakers had to introduce themselves through their desserts. Each baker had to create an edible place card, with their name, and a one bite signature holiday dessert. While the place card seemed easy enough, the one bite dessert is filled with pressure.

Overall, the biggest takeaway from the edible place card was the bakers’ inability to pipe well. Shouldn’t these bakers be able to pipe their names clearly or with a little style? It was quite curious how many bakers had poorly legible names.

Additionally, there were many similarities with the place cards. Granted, the cookie had to stand up to the situation. Still, it would have been nice to see something more than just gingerbread and sugar cookies.

Looking at the one bite signature desserts, the holiday desserts were quite different. From topical flavors to more traditional offerings, these desserts proved that the holidays are quite eclectic.

Overall, the bakers who were successful in the first challenge combined flavor, creativity and decoration. They piped well, they thought about the one bite and they made a nice cookie/place card. There seemed to be a clear line between the top bakers and the bottom.

Winning the first pre-heat of the Holiday Baking Championship season was Sarah. The judges really liked her edible place card and her take on the pecan linzer cookie with pralines. It was the perfect holiday dessert bite.

For winning the pre-heat, Sarah gets the first choice of ingredient for the main heat. Given the difficulty for the main heat dessert, this advantage was a good one.

In the main heat, the bakers had to create a Kransekake. If you don’t know what a Kransekake is, don’t feel bad. Making one of these cakes is quite difficult and it was a hard challenge to kick off the Holiday Baking Championship season. If these bakers thought this season would be all fun and games, they had a rude awakening in the first episode.

A Kransekake is a Danish, graduated wreath cake. It is usually made with almond flour and marizpan. Basically, it looks like a Christmas tree (except not green). The key to this cake is the texture and the filling. The cake needs to stand up, not fall and definitely not tilt.

Since this challenge is for Holiday Baking Championship, the bakers had to incorporate a specific flavor. From chestnuts to lemon, some ingredients worked better than others. Beyond the difficulty of just the dessert, itself, the flavors required a little bit of creativity and innovation.

Of course, every main heat has a twist. This week’s twist was to include an edible bow to decorate the Kransekake. In many ways, this twist should have been an easy one. If these bakers couldn’t make a fondant bow, maybe they shouldn’t be on Holiday Baking Championship.

Overall, this challenge was more successful that other difficult bakes. Given the unusual dessert choice, especially on the first challenge, the majority of bakers did well, including the home bakers. There were a few leaning cakes, lack of secret flavor and one big fail.

The top bakers this week were Jennifer and Kobe. Jennifer presented a s’mores Kransekake. The judges raved over the s’mores butter cream. Even though there was a slight lean, her flavors impressed the judges.

Kobe scored big points with his chocolate, espresso Kransekake. The espresso flavored layers that were dipped in chocolate were perfection. Plus, his decoration and bow were a huge hit.

Winning the first main heat challenge of Holiday Baking Championship was Kobe. It was nice to see a home baker win the first challenge this season. Could he go far in this season’s competition?

Since it is the first week, even the ok desserts got a pass onto the next week. Leaving the two bottom bakers to be the Kransekake’s with the worst issues. The bottom bakers were Devon and Melissa.

Everyone knew that Melissa would be in the bottom. Her collapsed dessert was a disaster. While it could have been a lovely dessert, it was a fallen mess. The cake, itself, was just too delicate. Still, her chestnut flavors shined.

Devon had an issue with his flavors as well as his structure. Instead of stacked rings, he had two layers. Also, his sugar cookie bow cracked and tumbled down the side.

Even more concerning was that this Kransekake tasted like corn. While he used somolina in the molds, that flavor make the cake taste like corn. That texture on the outside of each ring was just too strange of a flavor.

The first baker leaving this season of Holiday Baking Championship was Devon. The home baker gave a valiant try, but too many errors proved to be his downfall.

What can fans expect from this season of Holiday Baking Championship? Based on this first episode, the bakers better have done their baking homework. It will be interesting to see what other holiday traditions appear throughout the season.

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What did you think of the season premiere of Holiday Baking Championship? Have you ever had Kransekake?