Best Baker in America Season 4 winner created a showpiece that wowed the judges

Host Carla Hall interacts with Contestant Katrina Hall during the baking process, as seen on Best Baker in America, Season 4. Photo courtesy Food Network
Host Carla Hall interacts with Contestant Katrina Hall during the baking process, as seen on Best Baker in America, Season 4. Photo courtesy Food Network /

While many of the nation’s most celebrated bakers yearned for the Food Network title, only one is the Best Baker in America Season 4 winner. After traveling across the United States via desserts, the finale might have left the bakers wanting a long vacation. Which baker earned the Food Network baking glory?

Throughout Best Baker in America Season 4, the competing bakers have had to tackle many difficult desserts. It wasn’t just executing the desserts to perfection, it was the ability to blend old and new, add creative flavors and find new ways to turn traditional into innovation.

For example, the first challenge of the Best Baker in America finale was a tsunami cake. While these bakers been taught many skills in pastry school and mastered techniques in their kitchens, the trending tsunami cake is not that dessert.

While many people love the visual of a tsunami cake, there is a learning curve in mastering it. From the right amount of icing to the smoothness of the cake, some bakers might prefer to head back to that May Day Piecaken from the first episode.

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Looking at the tsunami cakes, the four finale bakers, Michele, Jackie, Caitlyn and Katrina were a little apprehensive about this challenge. It wasn’t that the bakers couldn’t make a chiffon cake; rather it was using a chiffon cake combined with a tsunami cake.

The key to this challenge was having that moment. The judges wanted to be mesmerized as the icing flowed all around the cake. From the bold colors to the cute sprinkles, there were smiles all around.

Still, this Food Network show is about the execution. As seen in other baking challenges throughout the season, the dessert flavors need to be on point. For this dessert, the lightness of the chiffon cake needed to deliver, and the flavors of lemon and avocado needed to be bright and luscious.

Unfortunately, Michele struggled. From just completing the challenge to the texture of his chiffon cake, everything was just a little off. He didn’t need the buttercream coating on the tsunami cake and his cake’s texture was too dense.

During the Best Baker in America Season 4 finale, the little mistakes are magnified. A dessert that would have passed muster in the first couple of episodes will leave a baker just short of the last challenge. Unfortunately, Michele did not make the final bake-off.

Did a woman baker become the Best Baker in America Season 4 winner?

In the last challenge before the Food Network title was awarded, Caitlyn, Jackie and Katrina headed into the bake off with dream of a Hawaiian escape on their mind. But, this Food Network showpiece might need a little help from the Tiki gods to earn the praises from the judges.

Unlike previous Best Baker in America finales, this challenge was more than just a single cake showpiece. It needed to include other desserts into the display. From Hawaiian doughnuts (malasada) to the coconut custard (haupia), the bakers needed to manage their time well.

Looking at the flavors and components of this challenge, many Food Network fans might have guessed that this challenge was made for Katrina. Throughout the season, she has brought South Pacific flavors to her desserts and this challenge was no different.

From her use of black sesame to her luscious coconut custard, her show piece wowed the judges. At the same time, there were a few missteps. The judges didn’t particularly like the tongue on the tiki god. It made the display a little off putting. Still, her showpiece was vibrant in flavor and decoration.

Caitlyn struggled a little in this challenge. While each individual component was good, her showpiece did not have that wow factor. It was a display of lots of individual desserts versus one big showpiece with components in and around it.

For Caitlyn, it is unclear if she didn’t understand the challenge or just thought her approach was better. Even though each dessert earned praises from the judges, the reality is that it couldn’t visually compete with the two bigger cakes. Sometimes simple mistakes can leave the ultimate prize just out of reach.

Jackie had the most visually impressive display. It captured that Hawaiian vibe in the colors and the display. From her tiki to the placement of the other desserts, it had that wow factor.

But, it wasn’t without a few concerns. While the judges loved her coconut custard with the lime zest, her Hawaiian doughnuts were a little dense. Still, the overall display was a success.

One side note for the challenge that made this finale even more special. When Katrina was having difficulty finishing her show piece, the other bakers stepped in to help her complete the display. While everyone wants to win a competition, the reality is that the other bakers didn’t want to win on a technicality. Regardless of the final outcome, that moment is the one that should be celebrated.

While previous highs and lows did not impact the decision, the Best Baker in America Season 4 winner was Jackie. To say that she (and maybe a few viewers) were surprised is an understatement. Still, congratulations to Jackie and celebrate that victory.

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Did you agree with the Best Baker in America Season 4 winner decision? What was your favorite dessert from Season 4?