Holiday Baking Championship review: A winner wrapped up in plaid


In a Holiday Baking Championship first, three women bakers battled in the season finale. Only one baker wrapped up the title in a plaid perfect cake.

This season of Holiday Baking Championship has been filled with tasty treats. From harvest pies to twists on traditional desserts, these bakers proved that they are some of the best. Still, each baker is only as good as her last dessert. Who earned the coveted Food Network title?

To kick off the Holiday Baking Championship finale, the three bakers had to create the ultimate Christmas morning brunch. Each baker had to create three baked goods featuring the flavors of cinnamon, gingerbread and eggnog.

With those three flavors, a few classic brunch items instantly came to mind. Sticky buns, coffee cake and scones were all on the plate. Although the three bakers took different approaches to the flavors, everyone had high points and some mis-steps.

Sarah used her creative eye to her advantage. Her gingerbread shaped scones were cute, but a little dry. Still, her sour cream coffee cake wowed the judges and her popovers (the second batch) were quite good.

Melissa took a creative approach to this brunch challenge. The eggnog sticky buns were almost perfection on a plate, but they needed more eggnog flavor. Still, her cinnamon biscuits and gingerbread coffee cake were quite good.

Jesse Palmer with set details, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 6. photo provided by Food Network

Jennifer did well, but lacked a little confidence in this challenge. Her gingerbread cranberry scone was nice, but it was more orange than gingerbread. Overall, these baked goods were good, but not necessarily as good as the other bakers.

Winning the pre-heat and the advantage was Sarah. Although the judges preferred her brunch baked goods, Melissa’s plate was equally impressive. Maybe Sarah just had a touch more homey goodness on a plate.

For her advantage, Sarah was able to choose her color palate for the finale Holiday Baking Championship challenge of the season. Additionally, she was able to assign the color for the other two bakers.

The finale challenge was to create plaid cakes, both inside and out. This challenge might sound simple, but it can be quite difficult if you don’t know what you are doing. While the inside is a pattern, the outside plaid decoration is quite difficult.

Looking at the three colors, Sarah definitely picked the easiest, the red plaid. The black and white as well as the blue and green were quite difficult.

Since there was no twist or flavor requirements, it was curious that both Sarah and Jennifer picked almond as their flavor. While both cakes were different, there would be comparisons.

Jennifer seemed a little flustered in this challenge. Given that she had to have white, her plaid came out well. The inside plaid was crisp and clean.

The outside décor was a little wonky. Her cake wasn’t straight and the lines were a little crooked. Still, the judges were being picky in the finale.

The biggest criticism with Jennifer’s cake was that the cake was a little dry. The almond flavor was subtle but the cake could have benefited from a little almond syrup.

Maybe in other seasons of Holiday Baking Championship, she could have won. Unfortunately given the level of the other two competitors, she would not earn the title.

Melissa had a difficult color palate, green and blue plaid. She made a smart choice using pistachio matcha for her cake. Those flavors helped to make her colors pop.

Additionally, she was smart to use non-traditional holiday flavors. It made her flavors stand out against the other cakes.

Lastly, her décor worked on her cake. From stenciling the plaid to the silver, filled bells, this cake was the best use of her decoration skills all season.

Sarah took a huge risk in this challenge. By using buttercream and pipping her plaid, it was definitely a statement. Although not perfect, it was done well.

Her almond cake received high praise from Nancy. She loved the bold almond flavors and her buttercream. It almost seemed like Nancy was really pulling for Sarah.

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

While Nancy raved, Duff wanted more. It seems that he wanted to see a flavor combination or a décor that pushed the envelope more.

In the end, only one baker could earn the Holiday Baking Championship title. Melissa was named the winner.

Given her creative flavor combinations and her décor, she earned the win. Overall, she proved that creativity in the kitchen can be rewarded.

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Did you agree with the Food Network judges’ decision in the Holiday Baking Championship finale? Which plaid cake did you like best?