The new season of Halloween Baking Championship opened its doors.
Lurking in the shadows on Food Network was the Halloween Baking Championship premiere. While this seasonal Food Network show is full of frights, the changes to the competition produced quite a few screams and squeals from the kitchen. Should these bakers have kept the doors closed on the competition?
This new season of Halloween Baking Championship had several big changes. First, Carla Hall is both host and judge for the new season. Hall does a masterful job of balancing encouragement, wit and fun banter.
While Hall has a presence in the kitchen, so do the other judges, Zac Young and Stephanie Boswell. After revealing this week’s Halloween costumes, the judges interacted with the bakers.
These moments bring more personality to the kitchen. Now Young’s remarks are based not just the pastry pundit retorts but direct response to what he has saw in the kitchen.
Another big change to the competition is that there is only one challenge per episode. Instead of a pre-heat that earns an advantage, the bakers have extended time to tackle a larger, more complicated task.
Of course, nothing is that simple on a Food Network show. There are many twists and turns throughout the challenge. The twist ingredients are always part of the fold.
New this season is the dagger search. Hidden throughout the kitchen are daggers. The baker who collects the most daggers throughout the challenge earns a reward. It is unclear if that reward would go unclaimed if the winner is eliminated. Fans will have to wait for another episode to see what happens.
Also, earning this advantage could be a disadvantage. Wasting time searching for daggers doesn’t seem productive when time is limited. It will be interesting to see if bakers actually try to complete these challenges.
For the Halloween Baking Championship premiere, the theme was the haunted house. Since the bakers will be traveling through the different rooms of the haunted house throughout the season, this first challenge seemed to set the tone.
Each haunted house cake had to not only showcase a house but also the bakers’ personal fear. Lastly, one twist was that the cake had to contain a working door. With only a couple of hours to tackle it all, the biggest fear could be finishing on time.
Overall, one aspect seemed clear in this challenge. The cakes were small. While everyone’s interpretation of a haunted house is different, the houses seemed less like houses and more like stacked cakes.
Granted, these bakers only had a couple of hours and I couldn’t make anything close to one of these cakes. Still, the wow factor, like seen in previous seasons, was missing.
While the movable door twist was fun, the twist ingredient of the balsamic vinegar proved the bakers’ talent. Although many people understand the savory ingredient in some recipes, it takes a deft hand to use the balsamic vinegar in a cake.
Many of the bakers used the balsamic vinegar with fruit. It was a smart choice. Unfortunately, Edward totally forgot to use the ingredient and just sprinkled it on the outside décor. That idea was not a wise one.
Overall, the haunted house cakes were nice. Maybe the cakes didn’t scream frightful, but they were good for the first challenge. It seemed that many bakers were just trying to get into a competition groove.
Also, it was nice to see both home bakers do as well as professional bakers. It goes to show that a big title or a successful business doesn’t mean that you are the best baker in the kitchen.
The two top haunted house cakes did have a similar theme, snakes. Although Holly’s cake didn’t read basement, her detailed snake was quite impressive. Plus, the chocolate mayo cake delivered on flavor. Yes, mayonnaise in a chocolate cake does make a moist cake and no you don’t taste the mayonaise.
Renee had a roller coaster of a bake. After dropping some of her cake on the floor, her cake was smaller than she planned. From her décor to her flavors, the cake was well done. Sometimes a little bump in the road doesn’t always spell disaster.
Unfortunately, the two bottom cakes went astray on key aspects of the challenge. First, David made a margarita flavored cake. While margaritas are great by the beach, this competition is Halloween Baking Championship, not summer sharknado event. A little fall flavor would have been better.
Also, his visual gimmick was too much. The idea of pomegranate seeds coming out the middle was smart, but there were too many seeds. It was like an infestation that needed to be fumigated.
Edward made two cardinal Food Network competition sins. First, he didn’t really use the twist ingredient in his cake. Second, he didn’t follow the theme of the challenge.
The bakers were to create haunted house cakes. While the judges can debate the visual appearance of house, outhouse, basement, etc, there was a house reference in those cakes.
Edward’s cake looked like a monster. Even the scariest haunted houses do not have you walking into a monster’s mouth. No one would ever darken that doorstep.
In the end, Edward was the first baker eliminated in this season of Halloween Baking Championship. He took the news in stride. Maybe he was just happy to leave that haunted house behind.
What did you think of the new season of Halloween Baking Championship? Do you like all the changes?