Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Next Great Baker: One Team Sweeps the Episode!

I feel like this season has been really light on the baking in lieu of more decorating challenges. While this is "prettier" for the audience at home, those who take the entire field more seriously are left wanting more. Similarly, the room in which the contestants are working doesn't resemble a bakery. It's been like this all season, but the change has really gotten to me now that there are fewer teams and the background is more noticeable - it looks like a television studio, not a kitchen where you'd get things done! I don't know that this series will last a fifth season (there's no casting call currently), so maybe it's time to put Buddy Valastro back where he's best: on Cake Boss, rather than Next Great Baker, the failed Kitchen Boss, or the flailing Buddy's Bakery Rescue

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. They didn't know how to sculpt faces before this show. He started working in a bakery when he was 16, she's religious. [I think they're probably the most balanced team left in the game.] 
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. [I think their luck is running out.]
Black: Manny & Al of Woolwich, NJ, have been working together four years. Al has a family bakery. [I've gotta say, they're really starting to impress me!]
Brown: Jose and Aimee of Chula Vista, CA are coworkers. He's 27, she's 50 and worried that she's not experiences enough to be competing. [I'm still wondering what her strengths are!]
Purple: Bethany & Jennifer of Tomball, TX, who have known each other for almost 20 years. Bethany is self-taught. [I think they do well with the level of ability they have.]

Cake Boss: Next Great Baker "Gravity Defying Cakes" (S04E07): The purple team has 50 pesos under their table, and have randomly won a vacation for four to Cabo San Lucas. [the type of prizes won by sheer luck like this always get on my nerves!] But, to get the trip, they'll have to work by themselves instead of with another team, though they will get to choose which pairs make up their competition. [if I was them, I would've taken the trip, too, because it guarantees they get something, and I'm hard-pressed to see them winning it all at this point.]  

Cake Challenge: In eight hours, create a gravity-defying cake for The Rachael Ray Show.

Purple: They design a wine barrel with a wine bottle pouring into a glass, and are banking on their clean work winning it for them. They add some grapes and cheese, though the judges note there was no knife or bread. [details!] However, the cake is clean, well-proportioned, and meets the challenge in a way the other cakes don't, so they win! The audience at Rachael Ray also pick their cake as the best, netting them $7,000 of cookware and cutlery!  
Black & Blue: They start with a retro stove, put a pan on it, and build straight up from there. It's an ambitious project, and Lia is concerned about messy work. But, the bigger problem is that the cake takes a tumble when they go to move it. Al was in charge of the structure, so he knows it should have been tighter. There are also some details missing. [if this season sent people home the same way as the first three seasons, Blue would be a major contender!]

Maroon & Brown: Their plan is to create a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Aimee is nervous about not knowing how to do what's required, and Jose lets Kai take the lead. However, her isomalt beads can't be made quickly and nicely, so she puts Aimee to work making modeling chocolate discs. However, they still repeatedly fall off... and by the time the cake arrives at the show, it looks really banged up! Plus, a piece of the border falls before judging even happens! [why is the inside of the chandelier blue??]

Elimination Challenge: All four of the bottom teams must make a bouquet of flowers for the top of a cake in one hour. Judging is based on technique and visual appeal. [My carnations are my most beautiful gumpaste flower, so I would have done those, some buttercream roses, and gumpaste mums. Oh, and I think I would have had my partner basketweave the sides of the cake, then throw on some clusters of violets with leaves or rosebuds on vines.]

Black: Al is fast and fancy with tipped roses. [holy cow they were great!] They're the favorite.
Blue: They make buttercream flowers, but Al does them instead of Lia, and he's not that experienced. The proportions are nice, the layout is good, but the petals are pointy. [I thought the pinecone comparison was spot-on.] They're in second place, though Maroon thinks their flowers aren't realistic.
Maroon: They do a simple three-rose modeling chocolate bouquet with a realistic effect, but the roses are breaking and the airbrushed sides take away from the overall look. [They've been in the bottom three times now!]
Brown: Jose covers the cake and makes ten flowers, Aimee pipes. It's too yellow and the piping is amateur, sending them home. [I liked Jose, but I guess Aimee wasn't the best partner for him.]
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