Holiday Baking Championship review: Embrace the fall harvest


Another Holiday Baking Championship episode is back this week. Can these talented bakers learn to embrace the fall harvest in this pie-tastic episode?

It might be chilly outside, but Holiday Baking Championship is starting to heat up. After last week’s difficult Kransekake, these bakers are looking to celebrate a more traditional holiday dessert. Will these pies impress the Food Network judges?

For many home bakers, Holiday Baking Championship serves as baking inspiration for the upcoming holiday baking season. While some desserts might be a little advanced for the typical home baker, this week’s episode definitely was helpful and a tasty baking lesson. Did you find some good tips along the way?

In the pre-heat challenge, the bakers took on the concept, go nuts or go home. The special dessert ingredient was holiday spice nuts. From sweet to spicy, spiced nuts are a popular holiday food trend. Just like savory food, foodies are looking to move beyond just the plain and traditional.

Finding a way to incorporate holiday spiced nuts into a dessert was both easy and hard. Some recipes would work well, but the bakers don’t want to be boring. Even the home bakers want to step a little outside of the box.

At the same time, the dessert needs to highlight the holiday spiced nuts. If those flavors don’t come through, what was the point of using that secret ingredient.

For the most part, these bakers did well in the pre-heat challenge. While there were two sticky buns/cinnamon rolls, the majority of desserts were unique. The bakers did try to push themselves a little bit in this challenge.

More importantly, this challenge was a great example for the home baker. Who doesn’t get some food gift, like spiced nuts, during the holidays? Instead of just putting those nuts in a bowl, again, why not transform them into some tasty?

Since there has to be one winner in the pre-heat challenge, the baker who won went from worst to first. After a fallen Kransekake, Melissa won the holiday spiced nuts challenge. Her six-layer spice nut bar was a huge hit with the judges.

For winning the pre-heat, she received a big advantage in the main challenge. The option to switch her main ingredient with any other baker gave her an edge and should kept her in the competition.

In the main heat, the bakers had to create a holiday pie tower. The three different pies might have the same ingredient, but they needed to be different sizes and have different decorations. When it comes this challenge, the difficulty doesn’t stem from the decorations or the themed ingredients.

Any fan of Holiday Baking Championship knows that pie episodes are always a huge challenge. Even the best baker can struggle with a pie crust. Grandma’s recipe might be picture perfect at home, but the pressure of the Food Network competition can become a baking disaster.

In this pie-tastic episode, several bakers had pie crust issues. From blond crusts to raw dough, there were quite a few mistakes. It was somewhat concerning that so many bakers were having issues. If the bakers weren’t confident in a traditional pie crust, why not make something else?

Looking at the various pies, the judges didn’t really focus on the decorative element. Other than Maria’s green piping that turned into a green pool (hot pies and decoration don’t play well together), the decorations were just ok. Given the requirement, it was unusual that no one really talked about the leaves, lattice and the like.

Additionally, since almost every Holiday Baking Championship episode has a twist, this week’s twist should have been an easy, check-off item for the bakers. Making a flavored whipped cream that complemented the pies didn’t seem too hard. How could these bakers over whip a whipped cream?

The biggest takeaway from this challenge is that Melissa used her advantage quite wisely. With plums as her secret ingredient, her pies were delicious. The pies had big jammy flavors and her crust was perfection.

Another top baker was Dwight with his pear, raisin, walnut pie. The judges loved the streusel, which added a layer of texture to the pie.

Winning this week’s Holiday Baking Championship episode was Melissa. It was a double win for her and the ultimate redemption from the first episode of the season.

With so many bakers still in the competition, the majority of bakers were safe. Even the bakers with some flaws can get a pass when there are nine bakers left.

The bottom two bakers were Maria and Kobe. Even though Kobe won the first challenge, this week’s pie challenge proved to be a little too much for him. Although pushing the flavor and creativity angle can work, he didn’t execute his pie well.

Tasked with making a fig pie, Kobe incorporated one too many ingredients into his pie. The basil in the crust and the goat cheese got to be a little overwhelming.

More importantly, his pie crust was totally under-baked. Looking at the judges’ pie slices, the pie crust looked very uneven. Although he is a home-baker, Kobe could have been more careful with this pie crust.

Maria was flustered after Melissa took her ingredient. While she tried to incorporate ginger into her macadamia nut pie, the pie didn’t have a touch of the “aloha.”

Overall, the pie’s consistency was just too sticky, gooey and almost inedible. She knew that there would be issues with her pie during the end of the bake. There wasn’t enough time for the pies to cool correctly.

While her decoration issue was obvious (that green pool), she had flavor issues, too. Ginger is a flavor that needs a big punch. She might not have added enough ginger to really make it stand out.

Even though Kobe had multiple technical issues, Maria was the baker sent home on this week’s episode of Holiday Baking Championship. It seems that the judges might have rewarded previous successes over this individual challenge downfalls.

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What did you think of this week’s Holiday Baking Championship episode? Did the judges send the right baker home?