Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker: It's Not Just Talent

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I don't know how I feel about this show being so sponsored now! Last season it seemed to be much more about baking. This year, between the fancy cameras and the Hershey's candy, it seems that there's a lot of focus on things other than baking. Is it just me?

I was a little sad to see Jasmine go. I thought that she was spunky and talented. I didn't like her attitude ("you have to beat the best to be the best"), and her "but I'm so talented!" spiel got old fast, but she was darn good. But, I've never done a cake in a team, so I can only judge things from the perspectives with which I am familiar. Minerva is totally on my nerves now, and Melo's not doing so well, either. And let's not even start on Megan. If she makes it much further I'm going to scream. Heather M., Ryan, Chad, and Marissa are my favorites now. Who are you rooting for?

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker "Wedding Wonderland" (S02E03):
Baker's Challenge: There are 11 chocolate cakes on the table. Each one contains a different Hershey's candy. The contestants need to dig through the candy to find out what your assigned candy is, and you have to include it in your chocolate dessert, that you only have two hours to make. The winner will get a year's supply of Hershey's candy. Joey is the assistant judge.

Megan [38 from Pittsburgh. was a paramedic but wants to start a new chapter] makes an Almond Joy chocolate thumbprint cookie. [simple. and rather boring. but probably a good idea all in all.] It's judged to be good but could use more coconut.
Heather G. [31 from Knoxville. Has a young daughter and bakes cakes from her home] makes chocolate cake with buckeyes, using payday candies. Buddy likes it, but says that she nailed the candy more in the buckeye than in the cake. [I didn't like that she tried to get away with two different things...]
Heather M. [32 from Vegas. she's an exotic dancer who wants to find a new career before her five-year-old gets embarrassed by what her mother does] makes dark chocolate mousse and peanut butter mousse, with Reese's peanut butter cups as her candy. She's told that her mousse is delicious and that she nailed it. [I love a good mousse. I think that it's an amazing dessert when done well, so I'm imagining that this was really great!]
Melo [42 from Worcester, Mass. Retired cop who became an artist and then a baker] makes dark chocolate Latin mousse (Latin because of the coffee and rum.) He reduced cherry nips twizzlers into a whipping cream. The judging didn't go well... Buddy said that he would spit it out - the flavors just don't go together.
Ryan [30 from Rhode Island. Was an electrician until he helped his wife out in a bakery one day and loved it] makes chocolate cake and mousse with the Hershey's special dark pieces. He's told that "something's off" and that there was a strange aftertaste. [eh. I don't like dark chocolate so I wouldn't have been a fan anyway.]
Jasmine [20 from Los Angeles.] makes chocolate fudge brownies with white chocolate ganache infused with strawberry twizzler twists and a twizzler marscapone mousse on top. [um, that sounds way too complicated. I don't think that all of that needed to be said, LoL.] Buddy is a little scared, but they liked it, despite being skeptical of the twizzler dishes. [I would have been, too! chocolate desserts with fruity things don't always go so well...]
Marissa [24 from Pompton Lakes, NJ. went to culinary school and describes herself as someone with a temper.] makes a flourless chocolate cake with orange zest, and uses sweet & sour twizzlers in a sauce with chocolate ganache. Joey is impressed with the balance of the dessert. [I probably would be as well. That sounds really strange, but maybe it would work.]
Nadine [27 from NYC.] makes brownie cake lollies with York pieces. Joey thinks there was too much peppermint, but Buddy likes that she went with a trendier idea in the cake pops.
Chad [43 from Dallas. coaches HS basketball & works at a bakery. Also has done competitive drag queen pageants.] makes a turtle fudge brownie with marshmallows and Reese's pieces. Joey thought that it had too much marshmallow, and Buddy said it was average to below average. Minerva [43 from Miami. considers herself a show-off] makes chocolate brownies, incorporating the Hershey's cookies and cream drops. Joey thought it was too dry. [I thought it sounded too plain.]
Wesley [28-year-old army soldier from Fayetteville, NC.] makes a peanut butter truffle with the dark chocolate Reese's. Not enough peanut butter flavor, but Buddy did enjoy it.

The worst dessert (by far) was Melo's mousse, and he saw that coming. Second place was Jasmine and the winner was Marissa, so those two are captains for the Elimination challenge. Each captain gets three picks, then the remaining three folks are on their own... in  "misfits" team. [well that just seems incredibly weird!] Marissa picks Chad, Heather G., and Ryan. Jasmine picks Megan (to put her in her place), Carmelo, and Minerva. That leaves Nadine, Heather M., and Wes, whom Buddy makes Captain. Heather M. is embarrassed that she wasn't picked. [I would be, too. :(]

Elimination Challenge: Everyone goes on a field trip to NYC to Brides magazine... they're going to make wedding cakes! The winning team and their cake will be featured in the January issue of the magazine. [wow. that's a totally awesome "prize." But, at the same time, this goes back to my comment about how the show is so sponsored and commercial...] There are three possible themes: Vintage Romance, with buzzwords of antiquey, retro, and bygone era. Fantasy Princess, with words of pink, sparkle, and lots of tulle. Hot Hollywood, with words of lips, glamour, deco, and wow-factor. The team leaders choose their themes without input from their teammates. Marissa goes with Vintage, Jasmine picks Fantasy, and that leaves Wed with Hot Hollywood. The teams are given a few minutes to look at the tables of inspiration and take photos, etc. They have seven hours to make the cake.

Vintage Romance
(Marissa, Chad, Heather G, Ryan): Chad had wanted to do the fantasy princess cake. Marissa thinks that there are a lot of opinions and thinks everyone could work on their own tier. [that just SOUNDS like a disaster!] They have an early argument about whether to use gold or ivory to cover the cake. [I thought that gold might have been nice in this case, and I am NOT a gold fan!] Heather G. is pregnant, and makes the announcement by saying that the baby is pushing on her bladder and she needs a restroom break. Nobody had any idea and she's seven months along. She didn't bring it up because nobody had asked. Chad thought she was, but you don't ask that. [I don't know what I think of this whole thing. I mean, was she just looking for a time to bring it up and decided "now or never"??] Heather G's fondant is too thick and it's already on the cake. She loves piping work.... but Chad doesn't like the look of what she does - he wanted daintier. [who even says, "daintier" ??] In the end, Marissa was happy with her cake.

Fantasy Princess
(Jasmine, Megan, Carmelo, Minerva): Megan hates the choice. But what  does she know? She's only ever done three wedding cakes! Jasmine lays down the law and says that there will be no yelling or cursing. Megan thinks that Jasmine is too laid-back to be an effective leader. [that's a true criticism.] Minerva is worried that the cake might be too pink... like a Sweet Sixteen, not a wedding. Jasmine put Minerva in charge of the flowers for the cake... but Minerva is pretty slow. Megan and Jasmine are both not fans of a pillow layer, so they pull it. Melo doesn't understand why they did that, though. Megan is messy and they can't find the bling diamonds. [everyone thought that Megan was too messy.] Jasmine thought that the cake was beautiful, but Melo didn't think that it fit the theme.

Hot Hollywood (Wes, Nadine, Heather M.): Wes has never seen a wedding cake up-close. [I really found that difficult to believe. Even if he hadn't made one, hadn't he at least been to a wedding and taken a look? it's kinda his business...] It gets worse, though... he hasn't even had a lot of "female clientele." [so.... he only sells cakes to men??] So, he's happy  that Nadine has wedding experience. (she has a LOT, too. she made her first wedding cake when she was fourteen!) They do LOTS of gum paste flowers, but they're just taking a really long time. Nadine jumps in and does royal icing flowers. Heather M is worried about Wes's ability. [...I am, too, at this point.] They have a great idea to incorporate the same design bow as the wedding shoe's bow, but it gets scrapped when it isn't setting up properly. [too bad. I thought that was going to be neat!] They go with feathers instead.  Time ran out for everyone. They deliver the cakes to the elimination room. Wes thought he was a decent leader and that the fit the theme well in the end, but Heather M thought it needed more details.

Terrie Collymore from Brides, Buddy, and his wife Lisa, are the judges.

About Vintage Romance: Buddy thought that the flowers were great and Terrie thought that the lacework captured the dress. (Lisa didn't like the lace, though.) Terrie said that it was great at capturing the theme, but there needed to be gold on the cake. [agreed.] The piping work was amazing. Buddy thought the bow was gaudy, but the lacework and details were vintage and beautiful. They captured the theme and win the slot in Brides.

About Hot Hollywood: Lisa thought that the feather was eye-catching and didn't belong.  Terrie thought that the design was outstanding, dramatic, and fit the theme. She also said that although the feather fit the theme, the placement needed help. [I didn't really care for the feather, but whatever.] Lisa wanted the color of the flowers to pop more. [valid.] Buddy points out how sloppy the fondant was, and Heather M jumps in to say that the fondant was Wesley's fault. 

About Fantasy Princess: Terrie thought that the pink made the cake look garish. Buddy thought that there was a nice bow. However, Buddy is shocked and confused with Jasmine's confidence that it was a good cake. Terrie said that it needed more sophistication, like in the coloring. [agreed. that pink was like Barbie's corvette.] Everyone wonders why there wasn't more sparkles, and Jasmine just says that at they were lost. Lisa says that the cake was a complete disaster. 
Credit: TLC/Walling McGarity
Buddy says that the theme didn't come through - no princess! So, since they're at the bottom, Buddy asks them to plead their case. Jasmine argues that her leadership was better than Wesley's. [don't compare yourself to another team... that can't be the way to go!] Minerva says that Jasmine was a good leader, but only for her age. [that was probably a bit true, though harsh.] Jasmine [who is really starting to annoy me... shut up, girl!] brags about her talent and says that she has "everything" to be the next great baker. Well, Buddy tells her that she needs to learn humility and work on her leadership, though she has potential. She breaks into tears when sent to the box truck. In the truck, she keeps saying that she's self-confident and talented, and that Buddy made a mistake. [nobody is denying that the girl has talent. but the bragging got old, and it just didn't fly. Sorry to see her go, but hope she does well in her endeavors!]

Next week: Christmas cakes for a family party.
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