Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Next Great Baker: Having Mothers Help

by Amy K. Bredemeyer
Our readers were correct! Paul was the one who did not make it to the final round of Next Great Baker. I was a little surprised, as I didn't think Buddy would shoot for three females in the finale. Still, as many have mentioned across the internet, Paul did seem to be lacking in several ways, and when he's side-by-side with Gretel-Ann, it's tough to choose who should continue. I personally find it interesting that the promos make it appear as if Gretel-Ann will pull some more tricks, specifically on Jen's oven. I think the change in venue (the finale will be in Las Vegas!) will also force some extra difficulties, so I'm intrigued to watch!

About this episode, though, I did want to put out some general comments. First, it seems that the contestants are using CK royal icing mix. I'm a little surprised that they're not measuring out the ingredients from scratch (royal is easy. it's seriously just powdered sugar, water, and meringue powder), but it also makes me want to try the mix. Second, I was pretty surprised at how well the competitors smoothed their cakes without being able to see them! I miiiight be able to do the top of a cake, but NO WAY could I do the sides! (of course, decorating is not my livelihood, either.) Third, it's good that all four contestants seemed to have good relationships with their mothers and that the mothers decently helped them. Anyway, enough general comments...

Cake Boss: Next Great Baker "Momma Knows Best" (S03E10): Paul and Gretel-Ann can't believe they're in the Final Four, and Gretel-Ann thinks she can steamroll Jen because she's not too combative. [how can Gretel-Ann both be surprised she made it this far and think she can beat out at least one other person? kinda odd, no?]

Baker's Challenge: Icing cakes while blindfolded! Not only do they need to be smooth, but they also need to have a border and a rose. Buddy demonstrates this in 5 minutes, 11 seconds, and the challengers have ten minutes to do so. The winner will get $3,000 gift card to BakeryCrafts. [it's nice to look around on the site, but you seem to need a login to see prices so kinda a pain.] Ashley notes that it's important to note how many pushes it takes to get the turntable around. [but how could you tell?] Paul stops and gets lost. Jen messes up her top border, spiraling into the middle of the cake. Jen and Gretel-Ann have rough roses. Jen even notes that she has "never made a cake so ugly in my life," though she did add a non-required bottom border. [I laughed pretty hard at the joke of Paul's cake being a finalist.] Jen and Ashley were the best, but Ashley wins because her border was better. [if the number of Baker's Challenges a person wins is any indication of the finale winner, Ashley has this in the bag!]

Elimination Challenge: Buddy assigns Ashley and Gretel-Ann to work together and Jen and Paul to work together. The task is a tribute cake to honor mothers, and Buddy's mother and wife will be helping judge the final products. [that was a blah attempt to promote doodle.ly and tablets.] The twist this time is that, three hours in, Buddy brings in the contestants' mothers to help their children for two hours. Better than switching up the teams, which Jen didn't want.

Jen and Paul: His mother was a dance teacher and hers runs a daycare, so they land on a four-tiered lavender cake with the idea, "I hope you have kids just like you." [ha!] They add babies, crayon-like drawings that mothers would put on refrigerators, and some alphabet letters. [the magnet-like letters lost the meaning of the cake a little bit, I thought.] Jen's mom makes rose petals and Paul's adds fondant stripes to the cake, though he knows he'll have to re-do them. We get some background on Paul, about how he lost his business in Florida and he and his family (wife, three sons and a dog) moved in with his mother. Ashley thinks it's a weird cake, Buddy's mom thinks it's neat and detailed, and WifeLisa thinks it's relatable. Buddy, on the other hand, isn't in love with the lavender, and WifeLisa thinks the colors could have been more vibrant, as this almost leaned toward being a wedding cake. The piping was great, the cake was neat and clean, and the details were of a higher caliber. Lisa votes for this cake.

Ashley and Gretel-Ann
: Ashley's mom is a physical therapist and Gretel-Ann's is a medical assistant/painter, so they create a three-tiered peach-colored cake that shows off those facts and others, like adding lemons to show the mothers enjoy lemonade and sweet tea with lemon. [odd. and hard to tie together, I think.] Gretel-Ann's mom makes fruits and vegetables, and Ashley's makes rose petals. The royal icing starts melting as the cake sweats, so they move it to the freezer, but Gretel-Ann's piping still suffers. [I liked the little hearts on the "MOM" topper.] Paul thinks the sweating is going to kill it, and Gretel-Ann is informed that her piping was sloppy. WifeLisa likes the color and the idea behind the cake, and Buddy's mom likes the flowers but not how the cake color didn't match the details. [good point!] Buddy loved the color choices but knocks the cracked fondant this late in the game. Buddy's mother votes for this cake. 

Because of the tie, Buddy decides who will go home, as the cakes both won/lost. Ashley and Jen did better work and are safe. Gretel-Ann's work needed to be cleaner and Paul needed to do more, and either would be an underdog in the finale. [see, a word like that makes me afraid that Gretel-Ann will win. and she's not my favorite. but I'll get to that...] Paul explains that he's fighting for his family, and Gretel-Ann reiterates that she's fighting for herself and will continue to do so, regardless of whether it's here or elsewhere. [she almost has the Chad problem... being in the bottom often.] Paul is sent home because his skill level is lower than Gretel-Ann's.
You can vote on the right for who you think should win the finale, and before it airs I'll be doing a post about my own hopes for the end of the season! 
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