Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Next Great Baker: Horror-Themed Cakes

With the design of this season having teams created by pairs of bakers, it's tough to see where individual strengths lie. Plus, we're seeing a lot more from certain teams than from others, so it's tougher to form an opinion on Purple or Tan than it is about Black or Maroon. The mix of home bakers with semi-professional or professional bakers also makes judging the teams difficult. I'm still without a clear favorite, though the leaders are definitely pulling away from the pack at this point. When we're down to five teams, I'll do what I did at the start of last season and look at the backgrounds of the competitors more closely, which should help me (and probably others) begin to actually root for a winner. 

The remaining teams [with my current thoughts]:
Blue: Al & Lia of St. Louise, MO, coworkers at a fondant-free cake shop, where he strictly decorates, and she decorates and bakes. She's also religious. [I'm for them continuing.] 
Maroon: Kaiulani & Roxanne of Salt Lake City are niece & aunt perfectionists. Kai and her two kids are currently homeless. Other bakers are referring to them as the Kakedashians. [they'll probably get pretty far, but I don't like them.]
Black: Manny & Al of Woolwich, NJ, have been working together four years. Al has a family bakery. [these guys have talent, and they should go farther.]
Brown: Jose and Aimee of Chula Vista, CA are coworkers. [I'd like to see where Aimee's strengths are....]
Tan: Don & Meredith, of Long Island, are coworkers, with him designing and her baking. She also was his kids' nanny. [I'm kinda over them.]
Purple: Bethany & Jennifer of Tomball, TX, who have known eachother for almost 20 years. [They're not very interesting. Bethany is grossed out by this stuff.]
Red: David & Elaine of Kissimmee, FL are husband and wife. She's full-time and would love a storefront. He's an amateur. [they need to go home.]

Cake Boss: Next Great Baker "Nightmare on Baker Street" (S04E05): Because nobody was sent home in the previous episode, Buddy starts off with an Elimination Challenge: In one hour, make your best chocolate chip cookie. [sounds like a fantastic round!] Meredith is worried that they won't measure up, but nobody else seems that concerned. [well, yeah. if you don't have a killer chocolate chip cookie recipe, go back to the kitchen!] Soon, the lights go out and some mixing bowls tumble to the ground, and Buddy admits that this was all an introduction to get the contestants scared and in the mood for the theme: scary. [boo. I really wanted there to be a cookie winner!]

Cake Challenge: Do a guts & gore cake for adults, not kids, in seven hours. It'll be presented to the famous Robert Englund (Freddie Krueger) at Times Scare. The three teams are randomized, based on the color filling inside a cake each slices. A couple hours in, Buddy pulls out some straightjackets, and each team must have an hour of handicap with a team member (two on the big team) in the jacket. [I would have freaked out! having other teams choose who is locked up was interesting.] Later, when the cakes arrive, two of the cakes suffered injuries in transit. [why show the Hoboken bus terminal?]

Red: Al & Lia, Bethany & Jennifer, Jose & Aimee. Al suggests a devil-puppet in a sarcophagus, though Jose was thinking sexy dominatrix. [I thought Al had a creepy idea.] They follow Jose's lead, but the end result is a cake that requires explanation, though it has good detail. The face is too cartoonish, the arms are too thin, and the only reason they win instead of come in third is because their cake traveled safely. [I didn't like the face.] Jose & Al were the jacketed individuals.

Chocolate: Kai & Rox, Don & Meredith. Kai designs a bride holding a bloody heart, though Don had other ideas. There are good fabric details, and it has a great face, so it would have won in design. [the date could be March 9th, as noted in the detail of the cake's marriage license.] Kai is put in the jacket.

White: Al & Manny, David & Elaine. Al & Manny want a gory baker zombie, and they are very detail-oriented. It's done well and realistically, but they still come in third. Al goes in the jacket but jumps on the table and uses a dowel with his mouth to keep giving directions. [that's dedication right there!]

Elimination Challenge: In one hour, create a dessert plate using at least one "scary" ingredient (Mexican grasshoppers, pork belly, wasabi, dragonfruit, chili powder, blue cheese).

Al & Manny do a biscuit with wasabi, blue cheese, chili powder, and dragonfruit, then do a chocolate cake with pork belly and garnish the dish with chocolate grasshoppers. [I would have fried up the pork a bit first!] The biscuit is a little dry, but good.

David & Elaine put blue cheese in the cream cheese frosting for red velvet cupcakes, and add some dragonfruit juice drizzle. The chocolate bowl is too bitter, and the blue cheese flavor is masked. [that was Elaine's intention, which was a bit off-the-mark.] Their presentation was good, but they just weren't ambitious enough.
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