While the spirit of the season should be merry and bright, the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 semifinals had a huge twist. A third challenge was added to the mix. Although a spot in the Food Network finale would be a great present, unwrapping that gift was not as simple as it seemed. An elimination twist in the Main Heat was a lump of coal for one baker.
For the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 semifinals Pre-Heat, the bakers had to create a Kwanzaa inspired dessert featuring plantains. The randomly assigned desserts included classics like a tarte tatin, upside-down cake, and plantain sundae.
Overall, the desserts were mostly good. Two bakers had issues. Ashley had raw pastry dough and Sharrod was missing his caramel on his sundae. With the Holiday Baking Championship finale on the horizon, it is not the time to have these execution issues.
On the other hand, the other bakers impressed the judges. Kevin had a delightful Napolean with perfectly flakey layers and a luscious plantain pastry cream. Javier had very clean décor and composed flavor.
Winning the Pre-Heat was Justine. Her upside-down cake had great caramelization. Combined with the big crumb, the plantains stood up to the slightly dense, in a good way, cake. By using the sugar cookies as décor, it added another layer of texture. Overall, it was visually impressive as well as delicious.
For winning the Pre-Heat, Justine’s advantage helped during a twist that the bakers did not expect, a third challenge. The Holiday Baking Championship semifinals had a mid-challenge.
Split into two teams of three, the bakers had to create a Christmas ornament inspired dessert. For her advantage, Justine was able to pick her teammates. The teams were Justine, Javier, and Kevin against Ashley, Sharrod, and Thoa.
Javier could not execute the isomalt dome which caused that team to have to pivot. While they had a backup plan, they seemed to be scrambling to make the adjustment. According to the judges, the chocolate cake had a wonderful texture and flavor. Unfortunately, they wanted filling in between the layers and the décor could have been more polished.
The other team had lovely movement and detail in their décor. In addition, the combination of textures in their cake was nice. Even though the cake was quite soft, the layers make up for that component.
Winning the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 Semifinals middle challenge was Ashley, Sharrod, and Thoa. Their Main Heat challenge advantage was a head start. Those few extra minutes can make a big difference in earning a spot in the Food Network show’s finale.
For the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 semifinals Main Heat, the bakers had to create a Christmas tree pull apart blitz pastry dessert. The tree needed to be decorated. In addition, the mid-challenge twist required the bakers to create a dipping sauce.
While the flavors were relatively straightforward for this challenge, it was the pastry that caused some bakers to fail. As seen throughout the season, raw, undercooked dough can cause even successful bakers to plummet to the bottom.
The two most successful bakers were Thoa and Justine. Thoa’s cinnamon roll inspired pull-apart pastry tree was a delightfully flakey bite. The judges commented that the layers just shattered in the best possible way. When paired with her dipping sauce, it was a delicious combination.
Justine continued to impress in this challenge. Even though her combination of raspberry and orange might have needed a touch more sweetness to break up the brightness, the dessert was quite successful. Overall, it had great layers and was visually compelling.
After a few missteps in previous episodes, Justine earned another win and a spot in the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 finale. Joining her were Thoa, Ashley, and Kevin.
Unfortunately, the two bottom bakers were Javier and Sharrod. Javier’s tumble was unexpected. While the judges praised his willingness to make a braided pastry, the decision was ill-timed. The pastry was underbaked. The execution mistake was a huge issue. Even great flavor could not save that technical problem.
Sharrod was the only baker to not present a blitz pastry. While Duff Goldman appreciated his nod to rugelach, it may not have met the challenge. In addition, the pull apart dessert read very sweet. It was sticky to eat and had a lot of icing.
But, raw pastry could not be overlooked and Javier was eliminated. The big twist right before the Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 finale was a shock. Javier was a baker who had earned top praise time and again. He seemed like an obvious choice for the finale. Unfortunately, his previous accolades could not save him from the big mistake.
Which baker will walk away from Holiday Baking Championship Season 10 title? Be sure to watch thefinale on Food Network, Monday at 8 p.m. ET or stream the next day on MAX.