And then there were four.
This week’s Halloween Baking Championship started with five bakers and ended with four heading into next week’s finale.
In the pre-heat challenge, the bakers were asked to create creepy donuts in 75 minutes.
Having attempted donuts last week, Ashlee was wary of this challenge, and I can’t blame her – those donuts were a disaster. She did better this week, with an apple pie-filled yeast donut, which has to have time to rise a couple of times and then bake, but it still wasn’t great. She knew it was risky and probably wouldn’t work, but she charged ahead anyway.
Audrey went outside of the box and created an intestine cruller filled with cream. I personally loved her innovation, but it sort of looked muddled and not like intestines in the end.
Scott’s cardamom, star anise and nutmeg donut with ginger and apple cider ice cream was meant to look like it was wounded with stitches. The judges said it was “too pretty,” but it looked to me like microwaved eggs with two accidental lines of ketchup on top. Not a fan.
On the other hand, I loved Rudy’s buttermilk breakfast pecan bacon crumble topped with pig parts to make this “slaughterhouse” donut. Finally, something came together for him! He’s my new favorite person on the show. I’m not sure if he’ll win, but I love how genuine he is compared to others who seem a little manufactured.
Jason made a red velvet cake donut filled with butter cream shaped like a mama monster with a baby monster on her back. The judges loved his decoration but I felt like he repeated himself; in the first pre-heat challenge, he made a spider topped with spider babies. Boring! His donut basically looked like a reconstructed cupcake instead of a donut.
I was so happy for Rudy when he won the pre-heat since something finally seemed to work out for him. Unforunately, his prize really wasn’t that much of an advantage. Halfway through the main heat, he was given a basket full of surprise ingredients to disribute among the other bakers to incorporate into their almost fully made graveyard-themed pumpkin desserts. Sure, he decided who got what, but he also had to take something himself and the ingredients were really tame and perfect for what they were doing. Raisins and candied ginger are not big curve balls. Where was the hamburger meat or jalapenos? Such a missed opportunity!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching the Food Network, it’s never use the ice cream machine. No matter what, avoid it like the plague.
Alas, no one heeds the warning and tries it anyway.
Audrey not only uses the ice cream machine, but she has never actually used it before. That is a recipe for disaster: In her first attempt, she puts the ice cream batter with pecans and raisins into the machine but it doesn’t work because you can’t put any solid items into the machine. Ruh-roh. So, she strains the batter and tries machine number 2. It works but she leaves it in way too long – the magic number is 7 minutes – and it ends up looking like freezer-burned ice cream. Even worse, her coffin cheesecake looked like a burrito. It was not a great showing. The judges actually told her the best thing on her plate was the crumbled ginger cookies that were store-bought. Ouch.
Rudy created a Mexican bread pudding graveyard with a mummified churro on top. This is the first main-heat challenge where Rudy has successfully created a delicious, creative, and beautiful dessert that the judges loved.
Jason tried to do too much on his plate with pumpkin three ways. He had a pumpkin chocolate tart, pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger crust, and an orange pumpkin sugar cookie. The judges seemed to hate it all, unfortunately. Carla called Jason out on the crust from his tart, which crumbled like sand in her hands. It was definitely not his best work or what you’d expect from a professional pastry chef. Judge Carla actually went so far to say she was offended by the crust. Ok, Carla. Sure.
This was the first week Rudy was not in the bottom two, which worked out nicely for him since he won the main heat, too.
Jason and Audrey were in the bottom, and after Audrey’s less-than-stellar showing, she was sent home. It was no surprise after the judges ripped her a new one, telling her the best thing on her plate she didn’t even make.
So, we have Ashlee, Scott, Rudy, and Jason heading into the finale next week for the chance to win $25,000. I’m rooting for Ashlee or Rudy at point, though, I really hope Rudy wins since he’s self-taught. I love a good underdog.