Thursday, June 13, 2013

American Baking Competition: Surprise Cakes

I was a little surprised that "cakes" is a one-episode specialty. I would have expected them to be broken down into multiple, as there are so many different kinds! What other topics for episodes will there be... breads for sure, probably cupcakes, probably muffins, maybe quiches, maybe generic pastries, maybe scones/biscuits? I must say, however, that I found the tips to be very helpful this time around: Start with butter and sugar, then alternate adding wet and dry ingredients; over-mixing the cake makes it dense. Plus, the history of Baked Alaska was thrown in, which I especially loved because I was just in Alaska three weeks ago! For what it's worth, I'm sad my Amaretto Divine cake wouldn't have qualified for the Signature Bake (three layers and all), but I think I would have made a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, even if it's a bit more cliche. I probably would have flunked the technical bake, as I most likely would have greased the pan. I'm at a bit of a loss as far as what I would have done for the Showstopper, but I would have probably gone with a rainbow cake, even if those have a tendency to bake unevenly. What would you have made, and how do you think the judges might perceive it?

Remaining Contestants:
Brian, 43, advertising executive who works from home, was recently injured and is currently using crutches.
Darlene, 51, project manager from Georgia.
Effie, 40, attorney from Tennessee.
Elaine, retired university administrator with great grandkids.
, 44, homemaker from Pickens, SC.
James, 26, photographer from Morristown, IN.
Jeremy, 35, firefighter from San Diego who lost 60 pounds in the last few years. He has been married for 13 years and has four kids.
Kolette, 30, home care provider from Norco, CA, who is a diabetic vegetarian.

The American Baking Competition "Cakes" (S01E03):
The Signature Bake: Be creative with a one-layer cake in 90 minutes.
Brian does a Chocolate Truffle Cake, which has a long baking time. He decorates it with "edible pansies", but they're just pulled from the ground. [gross!] The cake is a bit bland.
Darlene makes Banana, Pineapple and Pecan Tiki-Time Cake. Good texture, color, and icing. [I would have liked to see more of the "during" for this one, as pineapple and banana would result in a really sweet flavor, no?]
Effie makes Orange Cardamom Pistachio Cake, which is lovely.
Elaine makes Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Coconut. She uses 1 cup flour and 1 tsp baking powder, which makes a short cake. It's a sweet cake but very good.
Francine makes Cherry Soda Pop Cake, which is topped with roasted pecans. The soda flavor was too sweet. [I've wanted to try a soda cake in the past but never have...]
James makes Grandma Nannie Coffee Cake, which he burnt. [I thought it was UGLY.]
Jeremy makes his mother-in-law's Cinnamon Chocolate Cake, which is warm because his time management isn't the best. The middle is a little raw, as there is no crumbing.
Kolette makes Oatmeal Spice Cake with Cinnamon. The topping is ugly and the cake is too wet/raw. [I didn't think it looked or sounded that great.] 

The Technical Bake: Make a chiffon cake with a tequila-orange glaze in 2 hrs, 15 min. There are almost no directions this time (and no listed baking time, either!), and several bakers haven't made chiffon cakes before. The important things are to use oil, not butter, not to grease the pan, and to carefully incorporate the beaten egg whites into the rest of the mixture. Francine's oven has oil on the bottom, so it smokes, but her cake is lovely. Effie doesn't drink so she doesn't know how much tequila to use, plus she overbakes the cake. Kolette removes some dark spots from the sides, but it looks TOO trimmed. [agreed.] It's also too moist. Darlene's is dense because it wasn't cooled properly. The worst cake is Kolette's, then Effie's. The best is Francine's, followed by James's.

The Showstopper Bake: In 5 hours, bake a cake that has a surprise design inside. [I learned a lot in this one, as I've done a bunch of cakes that have had "holes" baked inside that I filled with ice cream or something, but never something exactly like this.
Brian does an all-American lemon cake with a cheeseburger inside. [I thought it was plain.] The cake was a little dry, and too simplistic for Paul.
Darlene does a "Give a Dog a Bone" cake. Her frosting was REALLY runny. It has a lot of rum but a nice bone inside. [very centered.]
Effie does an "I Loves You to the Moon & Back" cake, with a moon and stars inside. [didn't come out great.] The presentation is deemed beautiful, the texture is great, but there's no flavor. [she better stop with that no-egg stuff.]
Elaine does a Chocolate and Vanilla Valentine's Day Cake, with the interior hearts made of strawberry mousse. The taste and texture are nice, and the mousse works out, too. [I would have liked to see how she did her mousse!]
does a Floating Hearts lemon cake will have chickens and hearts. [I thought it was ugly.] The inside is nice but the outside is too much.
James does an Underground Surprise cake, designed to be like the Earth. [neat idea. I love gummy worms!] The exterior looks great, but the layers are very dense/dry.
Jeremy does a red-white-and-blue Single-Layer Cherpumple Cake, which has a cherry pie baked inside. [I've seen there before but they seem so complicated!] The top takes forever to bake and the sponge is ultimately raw, though the flavor is nice. 
Kolette does a 12-layer "Check, Check, Check It Out" cake with pink, green, and white. [I've never done a checkerboard cake with three colors!] Her frosting contains 48oz of cream cheese! The look is great and it tastes good.

The Final Results: Elaine is the Star Baker (I agree completely!) but Francine was kinda close. Kolette was in trouble but her showstopper was great, forcing Jeremy to go home.
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