Holiday Baking Championship recap: Are we still baking friends?

Jesse Palmer with breakfast set details, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 7. Photo provided by Food Network
Jesse Palmer with breakfast set details, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 7. Photo provided by Food Network /

As Friendsgiving takes a new turn, Holiday Baking Championship heats up the competition.

With the nice list getting smaller, Holiday Baking Championship takes on a stressful idea, holiday hosting. Whether the gathering is big or small, there is always room for more holiday desserts. After all the preparation, Food Network fans are wondering, are we still baking friends?

Looking back at last week’s challenge, the naughty or nice list keeps changing. So far this season, bakers rise to the top only to fall to the bottom of the list. Whether it is pressure, complacency or something else, this Holiday Baking Championship season is quite unpredictable.

For the pre-heat in this episode, the bakers had to transform common breakfast items into Thanksgiving breakfast desserts. The key to this challenge was the transformation.

Of course, there were a few fails. From the sliding crepe cake to the poor choice of a toaster pastry filling, some desserts were a hot mess. Too often this season, the judges are commenting about desserts that are better eaten with their eyes closed.

Holiday Baking Championship
Jesse next to Naughty or Nice board, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 7. Photo provided by Food Network /

Just like previous challenges, the bakers are inconsistent. Bottom bakers rise to the top; top bakers fall to the bottom. It is uncertain whether it is the challenges, the pressure or something else.

Looking at the Thanksgiving breakfast desserts, the best options came down to creative transformation that was executed well. The top bakers were clear.

Both Jamaal and Juliana had big hits with the judges. From Juliana’s French Toast Mont Blanc to Jamaal’s scone with mascarpone cream, these desserts would be the star of any Thanksgiving breakfast dessert table. In the end, the judges picked Jamaal as the winner. He transformed scone and executed a perfect dessert.

As the pre-heat winner, Jamaal’s advantage was he was able to choose the teams for the main heat. Since the team pairs were competing against each other, it was a huge advantage.

For the main heat, the bakers had to take a Friendsgiving potluck dish and use a flavor from the dish in a dessert. While no one would want Brussels Sprouts in a sweet recipe, the balsamic flavor is a great choice for dessert. Similar to the pre-heat, the bakers needed to be thoughtful in their holiday dessert choices.

In choosing teams, Jamaal thought that he gave himself and advantage by picking Eva, but his plan backfired. Eva’s use of corn in multiple parts of the dish impressed the judges. It was creative and well-executed. Although Jamaal’s dessert wasn’t bad, it didn’t stack up to Eva’s holiday dessert.

The same can be said of the other baking pairs. Previous success did not guarantee a win. A few bakers had some unfortunate mis-steps. For example, Kess had an over whipped cheesecake that was too dry. It was a major technical issue.

Still, as Jessie said, there were several desserts that were “plucking awesome.” From Jon’s visually stunning carrot cake to Juliana’s creative maple sausage doughnuts, the bakers who executed well were on top of the nice list.

Holiday Baking Championship
Nancy, Duff, Carla and Jesse at judges table, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 7. Photo provided by Food Network /

In a first for the season, Eva won a challenge. Her cream corn puff was “corn-tastic.” The balance of flavors and the pretty presentation won over the judges.

Unfortunately, the other bakers had issues. From the poor choices of color (too much blue on a plate Lorenzo) to Kess’s over beaten cheesecake, the technical issues could not be overlooked.

Although previous challenges had concessions, the Holiday Baking Championship is beyond the first couple of rounds. Small mistakes will send a baker to the bottom of the naughty list.

The baker eliminated in this episode was Kess. After being so successful in the first couple of challenges, she has fallen to the bottom the list. While she had delivered on flavors in previous challenges, her visual was often too rustic for the judges.

In this challenge, Kess didn’t execute her dessert. As the competition gets more heated, those mistakes will get a baker eliminated. After the first challenge of the season, no one would have seen this result.

As Holiday Baking Championship heads into the final rounds, it is hard to say if the bakers are still all friends. Sometimes even the sweetest competitions can cause a little sour grapes.

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What did you think of this Holiday Baking Championship? Do you have a favorite baker?