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American Baking Competition Review: Delving into Desserts

Last week on American Baking Competition, Kolette went home after her dismal bread failures. This week? We’re on to dessert! Which doesn’t really narrow the category down, so let’s see what the series throws at the bakers!

The signature bake is eight individual custards – they can be sweet or savory. Custard can be tricky because the eggs can curdle if you add them to the hot liquid too quickly, as Jeremy learned during the tart challenge in episode one. But I think at this point in the competition no one will have trouble.

ABC Contestant

James is making caramel and espresso, and Jeff Foxworthy says eXpresso, which makes my brain explode. Brian attempts to appeal to Judge Marcella by making a chorizo-jalapeno custard. This could backfire if it isn’t extremely good, but Brian believes he has so much talent that it can’t possibly go wrong.

Of course I’m wrong about no trouble, as Effie’s is far undercooked, Francine’s is eggy and grainy, Elaine’s eggs curdled a bit and Brian’s is overcooked. Darlene, with her vanilla-cookie custard, and James’s custard get props. Yeah, James!

Technical: a “perfect” chocolate soufflé. Yikes. I’ve never made soufflé simply because I’m afraid of failure.

This week they’ve decided to shake things up by having staggered start times, since soufflés must be served immediately for the best result. Brian has the privilege/task of being first, but is soon joined by Francine, then Elaine. Brian’s egg whites don’t look stiff enough, and he then has issues with how much batter he has versus the eggs, and decides to use what feels right. He doesn’t fill the bowl all the way, and his soufflé looks flat even before it’s done cooking.

Effie –  who started out really well during the competition – appears to be deflating. She somehow managed to forget the sugar in her soufflé. She decides to just go ahead and serve the soufflé underbaked because she knows it’s bad. Aw, man. I had been rooting for her!

Brian gets last place for changing the dessert recipe and creating a sunken, terrible soufflé. Dang Brian, that takes talent to make something worse than the person who forgot sugar.

James, first time soufflé maker, gets tops! I’m thrilled for him, and he has happy tears welling in his eyes.  (Also, I just found out via Twitter that James and former contestant Whitney are dating. How adorable is that?)

It’s time for the showstopper! Keeping with the egg theme, they need to make layered desserts using meringue as a major component. Effie is determined to not give up and vows to keep in mind why she loves baking.

Many of the bakers need to chill their finished cakes, and Brian decides to decorate his cake in their shared fridge, possibly getting her cake messed up in the process. James decided to “fix” his cake at the last minute and runs out of time, and is now presenting a meringue mess. Yikes.

Effie is redeemed with her beautiful cake with simple hazelnut flavor. Francine’s is a mess and she blames Brian’s fridge work. Luckily for her, they love the flavors and Brian’s cake is terrible. James presents his mess, and back at the judges’ tent they say it has cost him Star Baker – Darlene gets it instead, even though Judge Paul had said her ladyfingers looked too much like actual fingers.

In the judges’ tent they argue about who was worse, Brian or Effie. Marcella tries to lobby for keeping Effie because she has excellent flavors, but sadly in the end the underbaking is her downfall. I’ll miss you and your flavor combinations, Effie! You have good heart.

Next week: Brian helps James! Baking drama! Still no answer why they are shooting in a tent instead of a studio!