Friday, July 12, 2013

America's Baking Competition - Finals 2013

 Last night was the final episode of The American Baking Competition on television.  We watched the show each week as the contestants competed for a $250,000 prize and book deal.  Each week they had to bake three recipes for the two judges and each week one contestant was eliminated until the last two weeks, where a total of 4 contestants went home.
It was a fun show to watch to learn the proper technique for making various foods.  The website that went with the show also gave recipes!  Jackpot!
During the first few weeks, it was fairly clear who was going to be sent home.  When recipes failed -- or maybe I should say, when bakers failed to cook their recipes properly, they were eliminated.  Judges taste tested undercooked pastries, ungelled puddings and flat soufflés. While it was entertaining to see these people who fancied themselves expert bakers compete, when it got to the final shows, it became more tense.
There were only three contestants remaining: Francine - a southern darling who had personality, gumption and could laugh at herself, Darlene - a serious and kind woman who was rather quiet, but whose baking was slow and steady and Brian.  I had my own nickname for Brian, which isn't worth repeating, but let's just say that I found him highly unlikeable.  In fact, I felt he should have been eliminated from the competition earlier, when he took liberties with the recipes (omitting ingredients) or left the shared refrigerator open and caused Francine's cake to not reach proper temperature or when he was required to show all his baking products, but only showed the "good ones".  (As a serious baker myself, I thought he should have been eliminated for any of those violations, but since I'm not one of the esteemed judges, it wasn't decreed.)
Brian's personality was portrayed as cocky and conceited. I realize that the show is edited and his "character" was created to create drama.  But, I watched it for the baking.
As I mentioned in an earlier post we were rooting for Francine, Darlene and Elaine.  Sadly, Elaine was eliminated last week, but Francine and Darlene made it!
In celebration of the finals, the girls and I made dinner using recipes from earlier episodes of the show.  They came out very well, but had to be modified as provided from the website.
 Individual Chicken Pot Pies using Paul Hollywood's Recipe. The pastry uses boiling water instead of cold water, quite interesting.  We used butter in place of shortening (as I don't like to eat shortening).  The pastry was crisp and the filling delicious.
Francine's Peanut Butter Bacon Pie - This recipe was super rich. It called for 12 oz of chocolate, 16 oz of bacon.  I modified it to make it lighter -- much lighter. It was tasty, but way too rich for me. Two bites were my limit.  Absolute limit.  The combination of peanut butter, chocolate, cream cheese and whipping cream was delicious.  I'm not sure about the addition of the bacon.  It did add a smoky flavor, but I tend to only like bacon in BLT sandwiches.  It wasn't bad -- it just wasn't my thing.

The show was fun to watch. I was terribly disappointed in the final episode as Brian was named the winner.  Based on his performance last night, he did earn the title. However, I think that Darlene was clearly the better baker throughout the entirety of the show. Looking back on it after it was over, it was clear that the show was edited to create Brian as a dramatic foil for the season. Too bad, I felt the show was interesting enough without petty drama and felt a bit cheated that I tuned in...
Oh, well.  At least I had a great time cooking with my girls and watching the show as a family.

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