Best Baker in America Season 4 episode 1 recap: Piecaken for the win

Kitchen station detail, as seen on Best Baker in America Season 4. Photo courtesy Food Network
Kitchen station detail, as seen on Best Baker in America Season 4. Photo courtesy Food Network /

In the Food Network’s Best Baker in America Season 4 episode 1, the baking competition had a few ups, downs and unexpected twists for the 10 competing bakers. While each baker has numerous accolades and accomplishments, this challenge is far different that creating the ultimate dessert in their usual kitchen. Although all the bakers have all the talent and drive to earn the Food Network title, a piecaken challenge may not have put their best forkful forward.

Over the past three seasons, Best Baker in America has showcased some impressive desserts and some difficult challenges. Unlike other Food Network challenges, these professional bakers will not be making a few cupcakes or simple cookies. These desserts need to be worthy of a special feature.

In addition, there have been many changes in Best Baker in America. Taking over both hosting and judging duties is Carla Hall. The charismatic Chef Hall is a wonderful choice. Combining both her knowledge and her thoughtful, constructive comments, Hall is a lovely addition to the program.

Returning for another season is Jason Smith. Known for his expertise in turning a phrase, fans were not disappointed with his witty commentary in the first episode. While there was not a chicken reference (yet), his signature Southern charm was on full display.

Rounding out the group was Gesine Prado. The expert baker and Food Network chef adds the technical expertise to the show. If home bakers are paying attention, they can gleam much baking advice from her comments.

Lastly, there is a significant change to the Best Baker in America competition. Instead of a preheat/main heat scenario, the bakers have a main challenge followed by a sudden death bake off. In many ways, this competition aspect is much more difficult. The make or break challenge definitely adds to the pressure.

Which Best Baker in America earned a win with the ultimate May Day Piecaken?

For people who have never had a May Day pie, it is a Kentucky Derby favorite dessert. The combination of chocolate and usually walnuts, sometimes with a little bourbon, is rich. When done well, it is a delicious dessert.

Adding those flavors to a piecaken is not an easy task. A piecaken is a pie inside of a cake. While Zac Young is the originator of this epic dessert, many people have made their own versions.

The key is to have all the flavors balance yet execute each component perfectly. From the flaky pie crust to the crumb on the cake, the perfect piecaken bite is the sum of all its parts.

In addition, these bakers need to present a beautiful dessert. A leaning piecaken or a cake that looks more suited for a birthday party is not a smart choice.

For the most part, the piecaken desserts were successful. The flavor nod to the May Day pie was clear and the bourbon flavor was present. Even if the judges found some issues with the complete execution, the desserts were overall successful. As a first challenge, and a difficult one, these 10 bakers proved that they are on the road to claiming the title Best Baker in America.

Still, three bakers were selected for a sudden death face-off. Those bakers were Clarice, Miranda and Aaron. For the bake for the lives moment, they had to re-imagine the classic key lime pie. The bakers couldn’t just give a magnificence slice of pie. Instead, they needed to bring those classic flavors and elements in a new way.

In another new twist for Best Baker in America, the “safe” bakers would get to taste the three desserts up for elimination. This element is quite different for the Food Network. In some ways, the idea of being able to scope out the competition could be a huge advantage for the other bakers. Sometimes, a Food Network title is won by playing the game best.

Looking at this face-off challenge, each baker had a struggle. From Clarice having to re-make her pavlova to Miranda’s mis-shaped éclair, the pressure of the challenge was clear.

Clarice definitely took on the hardest dessert. Even with her mis-step, her dessert excelled. The flavors represented the classic key lime pie in a creative way.

The decision was between Miranda and Aaron. In a way, it was the battle of the eclairs and both desserts had issues. Aaron’s meringue was sticky and had an unpleasant texture. Miranda’s eclairs were baked incorrectly.

In the end, the first baker eliminated on Best Baker in America Season 4 was Miranda. The judges could not overlook the poorly baked éclair.

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Based on the first episode, the Best Baker in America Season 4 could be a promising Food Network show. These desserts are ready to impress. Can you predict a front runner yet?