The Holiday Baking Championship winner captured the flavor and spirit of the holidays.
Four bakers sought to be crowned the Holiday Baking Championship winner, but only one baker would earn Food Network glory. With two baking challenges waiting on the path to the title, which baker captured the best food memories of the holiday season?
While there were four bakers heading into the Holiday Baking Championship finale, only three bakers would compete in the last challenge. In a more difficult pre-heat like challenge, the bakers had to create a macaron tree. If the bakers thought that they would get a simple task before the last challenge, they were mistaken.
Although the top two bakers would get a pass into the final bake, the two bottom bakers would have a head-to-head face off for the last spot. To say that the pressure was on is an understatement.
Thinking of a macaron tree, this concept is quite difficult. It is more than just placing macarons on a Styrofoam cut-out. The bakers had to create a vertical tree made from tiered macaron layers. If you thought that baking a macaron with perfect feet was hard, these desserts are even harder.
Overall, all four macaron trees were quite delightful. More importantly, each baker’s holiday dessert was quite different.
Megan had a lovely holiday tree. Although her orange curd was a little overpowering and her fig got lost, her decoration earned high praise from the judges.
Lorenzo had more of a Hanukkah bush instead of a macaron tree. While he had an ambitious idea, the flavors did not come through clearly. From a frosting that was too sweet and just a hint of pepper, the tasty jam seemed to get lost in the mix.
Julianna had a delightful macaron tree. Her Earl Grey filling was perfection and the flavor stood out even more compared to the milk cream layer. Combining those flavors with a pretty presentation wowed the judges.
Lastly, Eva had a very traditional macaron tree, but it had technical flaws. Since she over-folded the batter, her macaron cracked, and they were under cooked.
Winning the first challenge was Julianna and Megan came in second. Based on both flavor and decoration, it was clear that both bakers deserved a chance to be crowned Holiday Baking Championship winner.
Unfortunately, Eva had to battle Lorenzo for the last Holiday Baking Championship finale spot. Although Eva bakes from the heart, she had a tough road ahead against the creative Lorenzo.
In the face-to-face challenge, Eva and Lorenzo had to re-imagine either a peanut butter or chocolate chip cookie into a new dessert. This challenge seemed tailored for Lorenzo.
Looking at the two desserts, Eva went with a concept that she knew worked. Although the chocolate chip cookie pie was tasty, it wasn’t necessarily new or exciting. Still, it was a delicious bite.
Lorenzo created a peanut butter cookie mousse plated dessert. With hints of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the idea was creative even if there were a few flaws.
In the end, the judges chose Lorenzo to move onto the last Holiday Baking Championship challenge. While Eva probably had the better flavor, her dessert wasn’t innovative. It is unfortunate because Eva is a talented baker. Sometimes, the classics need to be celebrated.
To crown the Holiday Baking Championship winner, the bakers faced the challenge of creating cakes that represent the past, present and future. To reflect the time period, the bakers were required to use a particular icing style on their cakes. Since Julianna had the best macaron tree, she was able to pick her preferred theme and assign the other themes.
Megan received future and had to create a mirror glaze cake. To say that this style was outside of her comfort zone was an understatement. In addition to the mirror glaze being a hard technique, the minimalistic style is not her strong suit. Megan loves all those little details.
While her mirror glaze had flaws, her cake’s flavor was a hands down winner. The rich chocolate with the candied almonds was a huge hit. From her moist crumb to salted ganache, her cake was clearly the flavor winner.
Julianna, as the last standing home baker, looked to impress the judges by creating a three tier cake that evoked the senses. Each layer represented elements that you could see, hear and smell for the holidays.
Since she earned the advantage, she wisely chose present, which gave her buttercream frosting. That option was clearly the easiest of all the cakes.
While Julianna had a great story, her cake was not completely perfect. It needed some finishing touches.
Still, the s’mores cake delivered with flavor. Although a touch dense because of the graham cracker flour, she captured the concept well.
Lorenzo clearly handled the past theme as his cake looked as if it was part of an 1800s display. Although his marzipan had cracks, his attempt to create this old-fashioned cake was smart.
Additionally, his choice to do a gingerbread cake fit the theme well. Unfortunately, the cake needed some texture and a lot more cream cheese frosting.
In the end, the Holiday Baking Championship winner best represented the challenge in icing, taste and the time period. The winner was Julianna.
After watching many seasons, it seemed likely that Julianna was going to win once she earned the advantage. Unless she had a huge mis-step, the title was hers to lose. Sometimes winning the pre-heat is the path to victory.
Truthfully, if Megan had a more successful mirror glaze, she probably would have been named Holiday Baking Championship winner. Unfortunately, that decorative mistake outshined her amazing flavors.
What did you think of this Holiday Baking Championship season? Did the judges pick the right baker as the Holiday Baking Championship winner?