Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Next Great Baker: Cakes that Look like Food

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Phew! Letty is gone. Of course, Gretel-Ann is spicing up the attitude, so it's not like we're going to lose drama! Ashley's comments at the end of the episode also lead me to believe that she's going to start becoming more vocal as well. This could be interesting, as I'm seeing a lot more fierce competitiveness this season than in years past for this series. I enjoyed watching the piping competition but wish that Buddy would have addressed each baker's talents more individually, as all we got were some quick looks. Onto the bigger assignment, however, I agreed that the shorter cake was the better product... I mean, those heads of garlic looked strange, the cake stand just seemed to be there for height, and the tablecloth was sloppy. Now, I didn't care for the topsy-turvy nature of the other one, but the detail looked great, and just about every aspect was more lifelike. What did you think?

Cake Boss: Next Great Baker "Cakes Al Dente" (S03E07): The main guest judge this time is one of the founder's of Carrabba's, and he offered some great perks for the contestants. Not only did they get to go to the restaurant for a "typical Italian family meal," but he awarded the winning team from the Elimination Challenge all free dinners for a year! [great prize but a rough one for me... I don't think I could eat there on a weekly basis... the food is so rich!] 

Baker's Challenge: After watching Buddy demonstrate swags, droplines, and other piping techniques, the bakers get 15 minutes to show off their creativity and skills on a cake. [I'm so thrilled that Buddy uses the #2 tip for his piping! That's my favorite, too! my decorating instructor prefers a #1 but I struggle too much with a hole that small!] BUT, the have to do it in a freezer set at 10 degrees below zero! [because apparently buttercream sweats. I only came to decorating since being in the California desert, so I was unaware.] Chris doesn't have much experience piping, but Jen specializes in it and is excited about the challenge. Gretel-Ann is also happy about the task.

The winner of the challenge will get immunity, and Chad jumped right into showing off 5 or 6 techniques all over the cake. Gretel-Ann thinks strategically because the royal icing will freeze. [so they're not using buttercream? that was just a statement about another scenario?] The temperature gets to everyone, and as hands turn red trying to squeeze the bags, Jen said, "My fingers are completely numb, I have never had this feeling ever in my life." Chad thinks his cake is one of the best and Chris is happy with what he did under those conditions and with his skill level, but the winner is Gretel-Ann, who did swags, drop-lines, and swirls. [man there were some sloppy droplines on some of those cakes!] Chad thought Gretel-Ann's scrollwork was terrible. Having immunity, Gretel-Ann hopes to use it to her advantage and send home Jen or Chad, even if that would mean sinking her own cake. [she got a lot of grief from this method on the internet. her attitude reminded me of Jenessa's strategy on Bridalplasty, but I can get behind the idea. I did think it was sad, however, that wanting the trip to Italy didn't play into her mindset at all. I think I might have cared more about that than sending home a specific competitor!] 

Elimination Challenge: The teams have six hours to make a three-foot cake that's themed with Italian food. The Most Valuable Baker will get a trip for two to Italy. Chris is excited because he's good at sculpting, but Paul thinks he can't miss, either. Buddy assigns the teams, and Mauro joins Buddy and the Carrabba's guy to judge.

Team 1
: Jen, Chris, Gretel-Ann. Chris draws while the team comes up with ideas, deciding to go with "a table on the bottom, a stockpot, the footed cake plate, a wine bottle at the top." [who puts a bottle of wine on top of a cake?]  Jen is surprised that Gretel-Ann is letting her voice her opinions, though she also assumes that Gretel-Ann will do a good cake. "Knowing that Gretel-Ann is a friend and I know her well, being that she has the immunity, I'm not worried. I think that she's gonna put out her best effort and she's gonna do a good cake with us." [I might be inclined to think the same... but maybe not.] Gretel-Ann thinks that Jen is trusting her too much so she leaves a few things undone so Jen might be sent home. Except, Chris notices and tries to cover them up. [haha.] When it looks like "weak competitor Letty" will be the box-truck-baker if the other team loses, Gretel-Ann begins to be sloppier, pretending she can't model tomatoes. With 14 minutes to go, Chris makes a pizza to cover a bare spot, but Buddy doesn't think it looks finished. [well, it kinda wasn't, LoL.] Gretel-Ann and Chris agree that Jen was the leader, and she takes responsibility for the cake, earning her the trip to Italy. Afterward, Jen notes that "it's so rewarding to have Buddy smile and look at me and tell me I'm the MVP. It's just this amazing feeling."
Team 2: Chad, Letty, Ashley, Paul. Ashley is not happy to be working with Paul because he's not professional or serious. [I think Paul is pretty serious, but I'll agree with the unprofessional.] Chad takes the lead, theming it "topsy turvy," though Paul worries that something will fall and Letty worries about making the height requirement. [I didn't think this worked out for them.] Chad thinks that the buttercream Paul uses on the tiramisu part of the cake is too white so Paul re-makes it. [I thought the finished product was gorgeous!] Chad continues to show off his skills in helping Paul and Letty with their assigned tasks. [he was getting a little overzealous in this area.] Ashley likes doing the detail work because she wants to prove that she's a well-rounded competitor. [and it was AWESOME. my jaw dropped at how lifelike the air pockets in the bread looked! by the way, I liked how they filled in that empty area with breads.] Ashley and Paul agree that the other cake doesn't look as good, but when their dowel rods begin to lean because of the weight of the breads, their cake comes apart. Of course, it was also two inches short of three feet, so they lose anyway, though everyone felt the tiramisu was great, that the cake represented an Italian meal well, and that it was the better product. [I just sat there shaking my head over the team failing with the height requirement. sad.] Chad says that he assumed leadership and was the most valuable member of the team and that he should stay because he's the strongest asset of any team. [he's beginning to sound like last season's Jasmine... always talking about talent.] Despite the fact that structural integrity was Paul's responsibility, he's saved because the tiramisu was his and looked so good. Similarly, Ashley is saved because her work was great. Letty explained what she did for the cake (the base, the pot, and the frames), but fights because she has passion. [I felt it was over-acted, though.] She also believes that, as the leader, Chad should "shoulder the responsibility of a failed project." But, her very small part in the cake sends her home because Buddy says The Next Great Baker would have done more. [Letty not even acknowledging Chad as he goes to bid her farewell was harsh.] Chad is warned, however, that if he's in the bottom one more time, that's it for him. [he HAS been on the losing team a LOT. it seems that his ideas are bigger than his ability... kinda like Peter in that sense, really.] Ashley is upset that Chad is still there, thinking that the person in charge of the structure should have been the person to go home, as Letty's assignments aren't the reason they lost. [but the weakest link and the reason the cake failed are not the same thing.]
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We didn't have a lot of votes this week for who you guys think should have gone home, but Letty still took the lead with 42.9% of the votes!

Another round of the poll is up, and I plan on giving a second round of my own thoughts as well this week so stay tuned! 
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