Holiday Baking Championship review: Panettone or pant-don’t


In this week’s Holiday Baking Championship episode, the Italian cake, Panettone, gets a makeover. Did these bakers just want to snuggle in the pjs instead?

Some holiday traditions might need a touch of a makeover. Holiday Baking Championship is giving the traditional Panettone a new twist. Could this Italian fruit cake be saved from the dreaded re-gifting table?

As the competition heats up on Holiday Baking Championship, the bakers are looking for some fun in the kitchen. As Jesse Palmer pops out of a Panettone box, the bakers’ delight turns into dismay. Can anyone transform that traditional Italian fruit cake into something amazing?

Many people have seen this traditional Italian holiday dessert on store shelves. While some people love it, other people tend to pass over the bread and dried fruit combination. But, to be crowned Holiday Baking Champion, creativity with even the most controversial dessert is a must.

While the bakers tend to have some leeway with their desserts, there was one caveat with this challenge. Bread pudding was a definite don’t. Luckily, the judges wouldn’t have to eat several bowls of bread pudding.

Overall, the bakers found several ways to re-create the flavors of the Panettone in a different dessert. From cream pies to French toast coffee cake, the desserts showed a lot of creativity.

The most creative, and most varied flavor approach, dessert was Geoffery’s mousse cake. From the various textures to the elegant presentation, this dessert proved that Panettone flavors five ways was the way to win the pre-heat.

For his pre-heat win, Geoffery got a huge advantage. He received a 10 minute head start in the main heat. Given the decoration twist for the second challenge, every baker would have like that time advantage.

In the main heat, the bakers had to create a cupcake mosaic aka a cupcake pull-apart cake. While these types of desserts can be complicated, Holiday Baking Championship found a fun way to make this idea holiday festive, holiday pajamas.

With each baker having to mimic a holiday pajama design, it was a little curious that the bakers mostly went literal with this design challenge. In some ways, this particular challenge could have really push the creative boundaries.

Of course, the episode isn’t complete without a twist. Each cupcake had to be filled with a particular flavor. While some flavors seemed straightforward, a few of the flavor combinations were not quite typical.

Probably the most disappointing cupcake was Geoffery’s dessert. After such a stunning pre-heat, this cupcake cake looked more like a muffin. The short, stubby cupcakes were far from festive. While the flavors were good (especially the filling), he missed the mark.

Jesse Palmer in pajamas in front of art background, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 6. photo provided by Food Network

Given his baking talent, this main heat was a big miss for him. He really could have pushed the envelope with this challenge.

The same could be said of Melissa. While her chocolate cupcakes delivered on flavor, she made a mistake with her icing, which put her in the weeds. Although she was able to present a dessert, it was far from what she wanted to offer.

For Melissa, this main heat challenge was a big letdown. It will be interesting to see how she can recover in the next couple of episodes.

Probably the biggest surprise in this episode was Sarah. First, her cupcake design was an amazing replica of her pajamas. All the details and textures were a huge strength.

Additionally, she got the hardest flavor combination, citrus compote with a red velvet cupcake. While the flavors did blend well, it was twist that many bakers would have wanted to forget.

While Jennifer’s design and cupcake were impressive, she couldn’t over take Sarah’s cupcake mosaic. It seems that the ladies are starting to show some dominance in this season.

As for the bottom two bakers, they were rather expected. Poor Janet has great desserts, but they don’t push the boundaries like some of the other bakers. The more simplistic flavors and designs are just can’t compete.

Yes, Janet had a really good vanilla cupcake. But, that was part of the problem. It was a vanilla cupcake. She needed more (including more cherry curd filling).

Jesse Palmer, Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman, and Lorraine Pascale, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 6. photo provided by Food Network

The other bottom baker was Dwight. He knew from the beginning that this challenge would be struggle. Decoration isn’t his strength and the design showed. Did anyone really think that the strange pink color was appetizing?

Additionally, his cupcake was boring. While he had a reason for the flavor choice, the judges expected more.

In the end, it was Janet’s week to be eliminated from the competition. While everyone loved her outgoing personality, her desserts weren’t quite Holiday Baking Championship ready. In a way, it is sad to see her go. She was always smiling in the kitchen.

With just a few more episodes remaining in this Holiday Baking Championship season, which baker will earn the title? Given the ups and downs in the Food Network competition, next week’s episode could see a big shake-up.

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Who do you think will win this season of Holiday Baking Championship? Is your favorite baker still in the running?