Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Next Great Baker: Passion Trumps Talent

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

As we wind down this season, I am really enjoying how much we get to see each of individual baker. We hear more of their thoughts, see more of their work, and hear more of their critiques. Though I was a little bummed to see Chad go, I knew that his ego wasn't going to let him win the final prize anyway, so not a huge deal. Plus, there's only so many times you can be on the bottom team before your luck runs out. I honestly think that had more to do with it than passion trumping ability. Sure, it's important to be a fighter for your cause, but wanting to cure illness will never make you a doctor without the dedicated study habits and time management necessary in medical school and beyond. Regardless, I think it's going to be a great end of the season with such talent left to watch!

During the show, twitter was abuzz with folks wondering what religion Jen could be that prevented her from indulging in alcohol. I can't say for sure, but a little googling leads me to believe that she's Mormon. She has several good friends who are Mormon (according to their blogs), she "likes" an LDS facebook page that is specifically for followers of that faith, and her (former?) babysitter is Mormon. Clearly those are not absolutes, but if you want speculation, I'm going with Mormon, which is a religion that strongly frowns upon drinking. [this is where my BA in Religion comes in handy. it's okay, you're not the first to be surprised. I have quite the broad education.]

Cake Boss: Next Great Baker
"Happy Birthday Kelly" (S03E09): Paul is surprised he's still there, Chad is happy that he no longer has to babysit opponents, and Jen is feeling really great about who is left.

Baker's Challenge: The bakers meet Leslie Robarge, the deputy editor for Redbook, who gives the bakers 90 minutes to make cocktail-inspired cupcakes that need to photograph well and be easy to duplicate. [this is the ringer. tasting and looking beautiful are one thing. if you can't make it at home, giving out the recipe helps no one.] The winner's cupcake will be features in the magazine.

Paul goes for a dark chocolate raspberry liqueur cupcake, using chambord, raspberry preserves, chocolate mousse, and crushed raspberries in sugar. The cake tastes like liqueur but the overall flavor does not. [I thought this was replicable but as a raspberry hater, I'd pass.]

Gretel-Ann creates a fudge cupcake (with chocolate liqueur) with white cream filling and orange liqueur buttercream. [sounds like something my husband would like!] It's very rich and the fudge overwhelms it to the point where neither judge wants another bite. [awww.]

Jen struggles with this challenge because she's never had alcohol because of religious reasons. Without a frame of reference for strength of taste, her Kahlua really overpowers her mudslide cupcake. Plus, the icing was also too sweet. [I'm never truly convinced that the alcohol bakes out completely...]

Chad chooses to make a banana-rum cupcake with salted caramel buttercream and white chocolate ganache. [how are people at home supposed to replicate using a torch on their KitchenAid? and how can he call that keeping it as accessible as possible?? that said, OMG I WANT TO TRY IT!] He also does a chocolate garnish and sauteed banana, figuring that the reader could just scale it down if necessary. [I want the recipe, LoL.] Paul thinks Chad went overboard for the generic American's talent, and the judges agree - it's delicious but complicated.

Ashley decides to make a buttery nipple cupcake using butterscotch liqueur, raspberry liqueur in the filling, and marscapone in the frosting. The judges found it to be fitting to the challenge and award her first place. [I'm not a butterscotch person, but good for her.]

Elimination Challenge: Michael Strahan from Live! with Kelly and Michael comes to order a cake for Kelly's birthday. [I'm behind the times... I did not know he was the new co-host.] He talks about how she loves red velvet, shoes, dirty martinis, her shih tzu, her family, and the color of money. [Kelly's birthday, by the way, is October 2nd.] Kelly will receive the cake live on the show, and the Most Valuable Baker will receive a seven-night cruise for two on Celebrity.

Buddy teams up Gretel-Ann and Chad, Paul and Jen. Ashley can choose, selecting Paul and Jen for strategy: she can't stand Paul, so being on the team would send him or Gretel-Ann home. [she believes she'll be in the final against Chad.] Teams have seven hours to complete this mission, but with two hours to go, Buddy gives Ashley the power to move someone from her team to the other team. She mentions that Paul would be her first choice but prefers not to move anyone, again thinking strategy. [interesting! also, I thought it was cute that Kelly tried to stop an elimination ceremony as a birthday wish.]

Team Paul, Jen, Ashley
: Ashley designs a round, crisp, tiered cake with martini glasses, bling, a purse, and roses. But, then she worries about it looking like a wedding cake so she wants squares. Paul still wants rounds, and because Jen doesn't care, she mediates. After she explains that round cardboards are easier to obtain, they just go with that. Later, the team has an argument about the shade of money (and the color of olives, for that matter), but Paul gives in to Ashley's hue and Jen's suggestions. In the final minute, Paul worries about the top element falling off, but everything works and Kelly loves the roses and the dog food in particular. Buddy thought the colors went well. Kelly finds this a beautiful and fun party cake, electing it the winner. Jen says she was the most valuable baker, and her teammates agree, saying Jen keeps everything clean and held together the group. [another prize for her! she won that Italy trip a few episodes ago, too]
Team Chad and Gretel-Ann: Chad wants a simple cake with intricate work. [Chad really had Gretel-Ann do a sample of her piping before she starts on the cake? ha!] Gretel-Ann does brushed embroidery while Chad makes sugar flowers (because he thinks his are flawless). [what's with Chad's voice?] Gretel-Ann worries about the other cake being more festive, but Chad doesn't think it showcases talent. They begin to panic that they should have had more elements, but Kelly finds the cake to be gorgeous... though it's a wedding cake too pretty to cut, not a birthday cake. Paul and Ashley agree. [haha - whiskey tango foxtrot!] Buddy loves the piping and the details, but there wasn't enough color, especially for live TV. As the losing team, both bakers try to defend themselves, with Gretel-Ann saying that she's been fighting to be a cake decorator her whole life and Chad saying that he lives and loves the profession. Buddy says that Chad has the most talent out of anyone, but he's always in the bottom. Gretel-Ann has passion and determination and Buddy keeps her for that, much to Chad's dismay. [loved seeing him wave his arms in defeat as he walked away.]
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well, it seems that there are quite a few anti-Paul folks out there! But, more interestingly, this is the first time that every candidate has received a vote on our poll! A new round it up and you can vote until an hour before the next episode!
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