Recap: Holiday Baking Championship 2.8 "Holiday Hoopla"

Dec 21, 2015 by Sarah Moffatt

When I get invested in reality competition shows, it’s very rare my favorite contestant makes it to the finale let alone 3 of my favorites! This was the first time in my personal TV history I would have been sincerely happy for whomever won.

On the season finale of season 2 of Holiday Baking Championshion, the final three bakers – Maeve, Steve and Adalberto – were put to the test to create their most delicious and beautiful work yet.

In the pre-heat, the bakers were asked to create two dozen cookies to hang like ornaments from a tree.

Steve created orange-vanilla bean sugar cookie stars decorated with white and gold icing. Up close, the stars were beautiful and incredibly detailed, but from a distance –aka where the judges judge them from – they looked rather bland and simple. It was beautiful baking but the tree overall was just underwhelming, especially considering the pageantry and over-the-top work we’re used to seeing from Steve.

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Adalberto, who is also known for making fairly beautiful work, managed to underwhelm with his decor, too. He made a lemon sugar snowflake cookie with green stained glass windows. His plan was nice in theory but his execution looked a little sloppy in the end. Unfortunately, the judges noticed the green sugar didn’t fill the entire “window” of the some of the snowflakes, which made them look incomplete. Like Steve’s tree, Adalberto drapped a ribbon through the branches, which was poor choice on both counts. The tangle of ribbon looked as though trash was blown about and caught in the branches.

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Maeve, the final female standing, made her mother’s traiditonal sugar cookies using Irish butter and orange and cinnamon icing. Her decor was stunning and my favorite by far. She truly created a winter wonderland-looking tree decorated with beautifully piped cookies. There was no doubt about it, she was the clear winner of this challenge.

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For the main heat, the bakers had to create a holiday cake that represented their assigned traditional holiday activities – themes which Maeve was given the advantage of handing out as reward for her stellar work in the pre-heat.

Steve was given “singing carols”, which is incredibly fitting considering his musical theater background. He made a vanilla with fresh fruit cake with mascarpone and ricotta filling. It was beautiful and, frankly, looked very holiday traditional, but did it scream $50,000? Not really. It was simple and the judges were unsure of the fresh fruit addition, claiming it to be “too summer”. Though I understand what they mean,you can eat berries anytime, not just in the summer, no?

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Adalberto was assigned “tree trimming” – another way to say decorating the tree, if you didn’t know (Duff didn’t). He created a lemon vanilla cake with a spiced chocolate filling topped with Italian buttercream frosting (he also served ice cream but the judges didn’t really mention it, so neither will I). The judges complained his cake was too dense and the buttercream was too buttery, however Nancy saw none of these things as issues. But, if we’re being honest, Nancy doesn’t love butter quite as much as Paula Deen but she toes the line.

The decor was beautiful. He carved his cake into a Christmas tree and trimmed it with candied lemon slices and polar bear macaroons, which I could’ve done without. But, it was lovely nonetheless.

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Maeve picked for herself the “sleigh ride”, inspired by when she fell in love with her husband. So sweet (pun intended)! She also spilled the beans about a terminal kidney disease she has and how she defied the odds of still being alive (What?!). I’ve wanted Maeve to win since about episode 3, but this discovery made me want her to win even more.

She made a gorgeous 3 tier hot chocolate cake with ganache and marshmallow filling and cinnamon and nutmeg icing. She decorated the cake with crystallized herbs, piped pine trees, and a sugar-piped sleigh on top. Despite complaints of not being able to taste the cinnamon and nutmeg in her icing and there not being enough filling between layers, Maeve stunned the judges just enough to take home the title of Holiday Baking Champion.

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Congrats, girl! You earned it!

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