Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 episode 3: Ready for a pie-off?

Host Jesse Palmer, Judges Duff Goldman, Carla Hall and Nancy Fuller, portrait, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 10.
Host Jesse Palmer, Judges Duff Goldman, Carla Hall and Nancy Fuller, portrait, as seen on Holiday Baking Championship, Season 10. /

While the Food Network competition has just begun, a few bakers are rising to the top. In the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 episode 3 pie-off, the head-to-head challenge might have given the judges a new perspective with blind judging.

During the beginning of any Food Network baking competition, some bakers play it safe and others prefer to stay middle of the road. While that might work for a while, it might not always be the best strategy. In this week’s competition, middle of the road could have gotten a favorite baker sent home.

For the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 episode 3 Pre-Heat, the bakers had to make seven-layer desserts. While the idea was inspired by a seven-layer dip, the dessert did not have to be savory, include guacamole, or even really clearly show the individual layers.

Overall, the desserts were successful. But, Justine did present the judges with raw dough. Even though it was raw dough or no dessert, the execution error did not go unnoticed.

Winning the Pre-Heat was Ashley. Her dessert served like a trifle had perfect layers and delightful flavors. It earned high praise from the judges.

For winning the Pre-Haet, Ashley received a huge advantage for the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 episode 3 Main Heat. She was able to not only pick her pie flavor but also pick her challenge partner.

In the Main Heat Challenge, the bakers had a head-to-head competition, a pie-off. Each baker had to bake one half of a pie. The flavor had to be the similar, although it was not necessarily exactly the same. For example, the pie was cherry brandy but the crust, topping, and cheese component could differ.

Yes, each pie had to include cheese. Although apple and cheddar might be a Wisconsin favorite, the bakers could use any cheese. Some even braved the blue cheese crumble combination.

Since the challenge was a head-to-head pie-off, a favorite could have gone home. In addition, the pies were judged blindly by the judges. That aspect helped to remove any bias. Given that some top bakers had mis-steps, it could have opened the judges’ eyes to a new aspect of the competition.

Given the difficulty of this challenge, it was surprising that the pies were mostly successful. Being able to bake two different pies with cheese at the same time is not easy. With only one really raw crust, it was a testament that the bakers can do well.

The two top bakers were Ashley and Kevin. Since Ashley was able to pick her pie and opponent, it seems that she chose wisely. It might not have been the slam dunk she initially intended. But, it was a good move.

The other top baker was Keven. His cheddar cheese crust impressed the judges greatly. When combined plums, it was a delightful bite. Kevin earned the win.

Unfortunately, the two bottom bakers were quite obvious. Justine, following her execution mistake in the Pre-Heat, had more pastry issues. Her crust was unbaked, too thick, and otherwise a mess. In addition, her use of cheese was not a true brie layer. It was a mis-step.

Kristen had had time management issues in every challenge. For the pie challenge, she was short on filling, which caused issues for her and her opponent. In addition, her crust was burnt in places. It was another miss.

The judges decided to send Kristen home. It seems that this Food Network baking competition was just too much for her.

Are the bakers ready to spread some holiday cheer or is the next challenge going to throw everything upside down? Be sure to watch a new Holiday Baking Championship episode Monday night at 8 p.m. or stream the next day on MAX.