Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker: You Gotta Have Skills

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

So... I just paid attention to the line, "only one will bake it to the top." I can't believe that I didn't hear it before... so punny. Oh well. This round was pretty interesting. It definitely confirmed my dislike for quite a few of the contestants, so I'm really getting antsy about how this will play out in the end. The Baker's Challenge resulted in so many delicious-looking items, I just about wanted to skip dinner and swing by the local French bakery for an assortment of goodies. I didn't think that any of the Elimination cakes were terribly innovative, but I did like the Santa. I really wonder if Minerva was faking the illness on the second day... but, more importantly, I wonder who is going to want to work with her at all in the future!! On to the show... 

Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker "Bakers On Ice" (S02E04): 
Baker's Challenge: Create your best holiday dessert in two hours. Cousin Anthony is the guest judge.  

Megan [38, paramedic, from Pittsburgh.] Does a Christmas cranberry cutie.
Heather G. [31, from Knoxville, bakes cakes from her home. Has a young daughter and is currently pregnant again.] Does a pumpkin spice cake. They like it and Buddy goes back for a second bite. [it looked SO GOOD. and I love pumpkin spice SO MUCH.]
Heather M. [32, exotic dancer, from Vegas.] Does baklava, which is deemed too spicy. [if you say you're making something that's hard to mess up... maybe you're making something too easy. But, maybe not...]
Melo [42, retired cop, from Worcester, Mass.] Does rice pudding. It's okay... but Anthony thinks the texture is like gummy bears. 
Ryan [30, former electrician, from Rhode Island.] Does pumpkin cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. Buddy says it needs a little tweaking.
[24, has a culinary school background, from Pompton Lakes, NJ.] Does a white chocolate peppermint mousse cake layered with devil's food cake. [what's with the complicated explanations? they're getting a little out of hand on this show.] Buddy and Anthony believe that peppermint is a risky flavor, since it can come off as toothpaste. It works here, though. 
Nadine [27 from NYC.] Planned to do a full-size pecan pie... but since there isn't enough time, so she switches to a pecan pie parfait. It's disappointing... the pecans are burned. [eek!]
Chad [43, coaches HS basketball, works at a bakery, competes in drag queen pageants, from Dallas.] Does a German chocolate cake. They like it.
Minerva [43, from Miami.] Does tres leches with Italian meringue. The best thing that Minerva has made so far.
Wesley [28, army soldier, from Fayetteville, NC.] Does peach cobbler with a vanilla ice cream whipped cream. It's the best thing that he's made. Buddy goes back for a second bite. [I lived in Florida for 16 years, guys. I've had a dozen peach cobblers. but never as a holiday dessert... maybe it's a localized thing?] 

Overall, Buddy says that this was the best Baker's Challenge in the history of The Next Great Baker. [that's impressive!] Heather G., Wesley, and Chad are the top three, with Chad winning. [awww... yay, Chad!]

Elimination Challenge
: The three winners get to choose two team members each (and they pick both at the same time, rather than going in rounds.] Chad chooses Megan and Marissa. [not a bad combo...] Wesley chooses Melo and Ryan. [well he couldn't pick Nadine after last week...] Heather G. picks Heather M. and Nadine, which leaves Minerva, who feels left out. Buddy lets her choose which team to join, AND she gets to be the leader of it. She chooses the all-girl team. Then, Buddy's family comes in to say that they love Christmas, and that the challenge is to create 4-foot-tall cakes for the family holiday party. They have 8 hours to make the cakes (five hours one day and three hours the next), and the theme is Christmas.

The girls struggle to understand what Minerva wants. They also have a difficult time getting along, and Minerva feels like the others are taking over when they don't like her snowman design. On the second day, though, Minerva is really dizzy and goes to the emergency room. The girls did remove Minerva's parts, since they didn't think that they were what the cake needed.

Marissa is worried about the snowman coming off too childish, but she should worry about her own issues... her cluster bows weren't that great.

Ryan thinks that the presents don't look good, but doesn't really say anything to Wesley directly, though both he and Melo mention to the camera that Wesley is a weak team member. 

When they finish, Buddy tells the teams to deliver the cakes to the loading docks. Then... Surprise! The party is at an ice skating rink, and the cakes must be delivered to center ice![I don't know that Heather G. should have been on ice skates while pregnant...] The two Lisas are the assistant judges. 

The Gift Cake Team: Minerva is back, and was diagnosed as being overworked. When Heather G. and Nadine mentioned that Minerva was not a good leader, Minerva admits that there was friction. Heather M. brings up the physical touch issue, but doesn't push it. WifeLisa thought the cake had nice detail, but the snowman was sloppy. SisterLisa thought the detail was great. Buddy thought it was the most detailed and they win. Buddy points out to Minerva that you can't not be a baker because you're tired. She's only safe because her team won. Both Lisas disagree with that decision, tho. [and they should know! All those years being around a bakery... you don't take a sick day because you're tired!] 

The Snowman Cake Team: Megan thought that Chad was a good leader, though Marissa felt a little walked over. WifeLisa didn't think it was too impressive. The gifts were sloppy. SisterLisa didn't like the black glitter being all over and thought that it was sloppy, too. [I wasn't in love with this cake, I guess in the same way that Buddy's wife wasn't taken by it. The idea was good, perhaps the execution wasn't?]

Credit: TLC/Walling McGarity
The Santa Cake Team: SisterLisa liked the face and the chimney, but not the toy bag. WifeLisa thought that the face was good. Buddy thought that the cake had the "wow" factor. [I already mentioned about the Santa face, but wanted to add that I thought the toys (the teddy bear in particular) were awful!] Ryan said that Wesley was the weak link.
Buddy decides that there was no losing cake. He tells Marissa that he needs to see some fire from her. Wesley gets sent home because his experience level isn't high enough at this point. [I have to agree. It's been lacking since that box cake instance at the very beginning of the competition. Although I would have loved to see Minerva go home, Wesley wasn't going to win this in the end, anyway.]

**After the episode there was a message celebrating Wesley "in memoriam." A quick google search revealed that he was shot a few days before Halloween this year. Too bad.
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