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American Baking Competition Review: Who Made the Finals?

It’s double elimination week! on American Baking Competition.

Double eliminations usually brings out the drama, which hasn’t really been present in this show. Sure, pretty much everyone who watches thinks Brian is a jerk, but in terms of multi-week cooking competitions, The American Baking Competition has been scrubbed clean with Jeff Foxworthy’s moustache.

Anyway, double elimination! The remaining three will go on to next week’s finals.

Fingers Crossed

The theme is French pastries, starting off with tarte tatin – an upside-down tart traditionally made with apples. When the fruit is caramelized properly, it is amazing. Many of the bakers are using very large fruit pieces, entire halves in some cases, and I’m wondering how well that will work. Usually I only see it with sliced fruit.

Elaine has a problem five minutes into her bake when she realizes she forgot to flip over her pear halves before placing the crust. She decides to try and fix it and instead completely ruins her crust.

Brian gets top marks for his savory onion tart, prompting lots of side-eye from Francine, who made an error in her fruit choice and ended up with a soggy crust for her dessert recipe.

For the technical bake they need to bake four perfect napoleons, using Judge Paul’s recipe. They’re making a quick puff pastry, which can be difficult. James decided to do one large sheet of pastry and cut it instead of cutting before baking. Oh, James.

Everyone’s napoleon construction is a hot mess, except Brian’s, who ends up on top. Guess we’ll be seeing him in the finals, then, true to almost every villain storyline!

The showstopper is a croquembouche – a tower made of choux (cream puff) pastries, often wrapped with caramel or sugar ribbons. The cream puffs are filled with pastry cream, whipped cream, or ganache. Yum.

James’s choux pastry is terrible and bakes up flat, and for some reason Brian decides to help him with a new batch. I’m not sure if this is allowed, but it sure is nice of him to do (and seems odd at this point in the game).

Those who put their choux around a form do the best, and the freeform tower-builders do the worst. It’s really because of the quality of the choux, but I think it’s interesting how that worked out.

Darlene and Brian are up for Star Baker, and the other three are up for elimination. Brian gets Star Baker and kind of makes a big show of it. It doesn’t appear they are using any of the past weeks’ competitions to help determine who goes home, and Jeff Foxworthy doesn’t do any dancing around when it comes to announcing who is leaving.

Farewell James and Elaine! I was rooting for both of you.

Next week, the finals! Family visits! Deep-fried dough! Tears! If Francine isn’t being set up for a win from that preview, I’ll eat James’s underbaked napoleon.

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