Cookies: During the first week, 10 of America’s best amateur home bakers came from near and far to tackle pies.
SIGNATURE BAKE: COOKIES COOKIES COOKIES
After surviving their first week in the American Baking Competition, the remaining nine amateur home bakers walked into the white baking tent to face week two. Firefighter, Jeremy admitted he felt like he was on the “chopping block” the previous week and needed to “climb out of the hole”. Meanwhile, homemaker, Francine, was ecstatic about being the first Star Baker of the competition and declared that she wanted to win it “every week”.
Host Jeff Foxworthy greeted the bakers and reminded them that they will have three challenging bakes each week to prove to the judges that they’re worthy of staying in the competition. He also re-iterated the fact that the contestants are baking for a chance to be named “America’s best baker” and to win “a quarter of a million dollars”.
Then, Jeff revealed the news the bakers were anxiously waiting for – it was cookie week! Brian was elated at the news and even referred to himself the “cookie monster” stating that he made cookies all the time and believed this challenge would be “pretty easy”.
The Signature Bake must be a tried and tested home recipe, and Jeff reveals the challenge is to make a dozen cookies in one and a half hours. He also reminds the bakers that they must present every single thing they bake to the judges - master baker Paul Hollywood and Chef Marcela Valladolid.
The bakers begin organizing their stations and Paul explains how difficult it is to make a batch of perfectly formed cookies and warns there’s “no room for error”.
As the bakers began mixing their butter and sugar, Jeff, Paul and Marcela kick-off the World Tour with Francine and her Slap Yo Momma Chocolate Fudge cookies. Paul doesn’t understand the term, “Slap Yo Momma” and Jeff explains, “it’s kinda like if you only had one left they’re so good you’d slap your mom to grab the last one”.
Marcela is excited that Francine is adding chipotle to a cookie, but Paul is hesitant.
Brian is making a family favorite, his Cakey Chocolate Chip cookies. He believes that’s what people want – just a down home good cookie without any funky ingredients like “cayenne” as Francine laughs him off.
While Kolette chops her macadamia nuts, she mentions that the judges are very “concerned about appearance” and that she needs to work on making her bakes “neat and uniform”.
Grandmother to six, Elaine chops up ginger and explains that she’s making an old family recipe that her mother used to make. Paul warns her that he grew up eating his mother’s ginger cookies he’s going to mark her against his own mother.
Effie’s type A, perfectionist tendencies are on full display when she measures out her flour. As she looks at the scale she exclaims, “it keeps going from 8.55 to 8.45, but never settling on 8.5!”. Effie is making the Rosemary Cherry Meyer Lemon Shortbread cookies she created for her son when she found out he was allergic to eggs. Marcela is concerned the rosemary flavor can get medicinal if it’s overused.
James is making Bruttima Buoni cookies which means “ugly but good” in Italian. He explains that he had an Italian ex-girlfriend who used to make them and Paul quips, “was she good and ugly as well?”
The bakers continue to mix and handle their dough while college student Whitney, makes lemon zest for her Lemon Poppy Seed cookies. During the first week, the judges told her she needed more flavor in her lemon pie, so she’s trying to overcompensate by adding extra lemon juice to her cookies.
Jeremy makes Fat Pills for the guys at the fire station because it’s easy to grab one and go. He loves to bake during his down time and also work out at the gym. He didn’t finish his tartlets during pie week and is determined to get everything done this week. Paul reminds him of the criteria “consistency, color and above all get it finished on time“.
With their cookies in the oven, the bakers can do nothing but wait.
As Brian is staring at his cookies through the oven window, he proclaims that his first batch “just went level” and they’re not as big as they should be. He tells Darlene he doesn’t know if he’s going to serve them because they’re not what they’re supposed to be. Darlene asks if he can make more than twelve and says she thought they had to “present whatever they bake” but Brian says he doesn’t care. He covers his first batch of cookies with a towel and makes a second batch.
Darlene tells Elaine that Brian’s first batch of cookies is bad and he’s got them covered up. Elaine says he’s going to be embarrassed when the judges ask him about the bad batch.
Whitney is concerned that her Lemon Poppy Seed cookies are spreading to much as they’re baking because she added too much lemon juice.
Kolette is making her mom’s favorite White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies. The 29 year old has always lived with her mom and begins to cry as she talks about being away from her so long.
Jeff stops by to talk with James about his affinity to work with his hands. The 26-year-old views working on a carburetor the same way he views baking.
As the bakers begin to rush towards the finish, Paul sneaks up behind Francine and she says “You know you make me nervous when you do that? I can smell ya!”The bakers put on their finishing touches as Jeff counts down the clock.
Kolette is the first to be judged. Paul likes the flavor of her White Macadamia Nut Cookies but doesn’t like the way they look because they’re inconsistent and each one looks different. Marcela also tells Kolette to make sure that the pieces inside the cookie are small and uniform. Kolette is frustrated because in her mind says one thing but her hands aren’t getting the message.
Marcela thinks Effie’s Rosemary Cherry Meyer Lemon Shortbread Cookies are beautiful and she did a great job of using the Rosemary without it tasting medicinal.
James’ Bruttima Buoni Cookies are a hit with the judges and even Jeff thinks they’re awesome!
Marcela thinks Darlene’s Red Rose Crumbles are too crumbly and sandy in her mouth.
Paul shakes Jeremy’s hand and says he loves his Fat Pills, but more importantly is glad he finished in time.
Elaine’s Ginger Cookies took Paul back home for 5 secs and he tells her “thanks mum”.
Paul scolds Brian for hiding his first batch of Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies and tells him never to do it again, but likes the flavor.
Francine shocks Paul once again with her Slap Yo Momma Cookies and her unconventional mix of flavors.
The judges think Whitney’s Poppy Lemon Seed Cookies are too wet and Marcela calls them a “flat cake”. Whitney knows she can still redeem herself if she does well in the next two bakes but also knows she can’t afford to make any mistakes in the Technical Bake.
TECHNICAL BAKE: SOPHISTICATED S’MORES
Jeff tells the bakers that the next bake is the Technical Bake. This challenge is judged blind by Paul and Marcela, so to ensure they have no idea which baker baked what, Jeff asks Paul and Marcela to leave for the duration of the bake.
Jeff reveals the Technical Bake challenge is: sophisticated s’mores…from scratch! They will have two hours and 15 minutes to make them and to add to the pressure it’s Marcela’s recipe.
Elaine has never had a s’more or made one and thinks “oh boy, what in the heck is a s’more?”.
Marcela explains the bakers will each be given the same recipe. They all have the same ingredients but some of the instructions are missing and must rely on their instincts to fill in the blanks.
As the bakers begin reviewing the recipe, Effie says she’s always nervous every time because they’re judged on every single bake they bring in.
Meanwhile, in the Judges Tent, Marcela tells Paul that there are stages that must be followed – the marshmallow must be made last. The cookie and chocolate should be ready first because the marshmallow is temperamental. Also, the marshmallow must be the perfect consistency and that is “kinda complicated”.
First, the bakers decide to tackle their graham cracker dough. Jeremy says he’s never made graham crackers before but hopes he gets it done.
The perfect graham cracker dough should appear incredibly dry. This may throw off some of the bakers, such as Brian, who added milk to try and wet the dough. But as he learned, that only makes it more sticky and difficult to work with.
Whitney tells Jeff she messed up her dough right off the bat because she added too much butter, while Effie is confident since she’s made homemade graham crackers and marshmallow for her kids before.
The bakers put their dough in the oven and watch them like a hawk because they burn easily.
Kolette checks on her cookies as Jeff stops by and though he thinks they look good, she’s worried about the way they look since that’s what the judges keep criticizing her for.
Brian burns his graham cracker rounds and tries to scape off the bottoms.
Francine tells Jeff she’s an outdoorsy girl and has been hunting since she was 14 years old. And not only does she kill them she can also cook them.
Once the graham crackers come out of the oven, the bakers start double-boiling their chocolate for the topping. They must be careful not to over heat it or it will bloom.
The final step to making Sophisticated S’mores is making the marshmallow. Many of the bakers including Brian and Darlene have never made marshmallow before and are hoping for the best.
Next, the bakers must measure out their sugar and start heating it up to get it to softball stage. Once the sugar mixture reaches 285 degrees Fahrenheit it’s at softball stage. This can also be determined by dropping a bit of the mixture into cold water to see if it forms a ball.
Then the bakers need to pour the corn syrup mixture slowly into the egg whites. It must be done carefully or the egg whites will become gelatinous and disgusting.
Brian complains that his egg whites have flopped, so he’s worried his marshmallow is ruined plus his leg is killing him.
Once the marshmallow is ready the bakers must pipe them on the graham cracker rounds and then top it with chocolate sauce.
With their Sophisticated S’mores laid out on the table, Marcela and Paul return to judge the bakes.
Francine’s cookie was crispy and the marshmallow was executed properly.
James’ looked like a witches hat – there wasn’t enough marshmallow and it wasn’t fully covered with chocolate.
Brian’s was thin and lacked marshmallow.Kolette’s presentation was messy but had nice flavor.
Jeremy’s swirling marshmallow looked like dog poop.
Darlene’s cookie tasted slightly burnt.
Effie’s had the correct ratio of marshmallow to chocolate.
Whitney’s graham cracker was undercooked.
In last place was James, followed by Brian in 8th place, Elaine in 7th place, then Darlene in 6th, then Jeremy in 5th followed by Whitney in 4th place. Kolette came in 3rd place, then Francine was 2nd, and Effie landed 1st place because she had the smoothest top, the best ratio and the graham cracker was good.
Effie is happy to have won first place in the Technical Bake, but thinks it’s bittersweet because when one person wins, one person loses. Brian is disappointed because he’s used to being star baker all the time at home. He knows he needs to put everything forward in the showstopper to secure his position in the competition.
SHOWSTOPPER BAKE: MACARON MADNESS
Effie is confident going into the showstopper after coming in first in the technical bake and believes she has a shot at Star Baker, while Whitney knows that she has to work really hard to prove to the competition that she’s one to watch out for.
Jeff announces the Showstopper challenge will be to make two different flavors of French macarons.
Francine talks about how tricky it is to get consistency with macarons.
Jeff wishes the bakers good luck and reminds them that it will be the final bake for one person.
Paul notes that macarons are “notoriously difficult” to make and a fantastic showstopper. The judges will be looking for consistency and time management.
Effie is taking a risk with her flavors and making a Saffron Rose and Coconut Curry macarons b/c she believes the goal of the competition is to think outside of the box.
A key part of the macaron is the crispy exterior, which is created from whipping egg whites into stiff peaks.
Whitney is nervous because macarons are hard for her to make.
Next the bakers must combine their egg whites with almond flour.
After Brian’s slip up in the technical bake, he hopes to redeem himself with his Coffee Cream and Mint Chocolate macarons. Jeff speaks with him about his competitive nature and Brian says no one is as good as he is at baking. So Jeff tells all the bakers they may as well go home until Brian says “well they have their own towns, I’m just saying in my town” and Francine laughs.Darlene is making Black Sesame macarons and is grinding them instead of toasting them to get more of the flavor out.
James explains the art of sketching out (on parchment paper) the size of the macarons so they’re all uniform.
Paul notes that once the bakers have their base mixture ready, they can then choose their color. Most bakers will use food coloring or gel, but they must add a little at a time so it doesn’t turn into a bright gaudy color.
Kolette is making bright yellow macarons with disco dust on them. Paul asks if the glitter is coming from her face, but Kolette assures him this is edible glitter.
Next the batter must be piped onto a baking sheet.
Elaine is making macarons that remind her of Snowballs since they were a favorite when she was a kid.
Once the macarons are piped, the baking sheet should be banged on the counter or floor to push the air out.
Marcela warns that one of the main problems the bakers can run into is cracking which can happen if the oven is off.
When Kolette pulls her macarons out of the oven, they are cracked and she is disappointed that she tried so hard but still couldn’t get them right.
Whitney comments that James macaron cookies look so good while hers aren’t smooth on top and look “janked”. Jeff speaks to her about being level headed and Whitney says she learned life lessons from playing golf and that even though her macaron cookies didn’t go her way she still has the ganache.
Paul states that all the flavor of a macaron comes from the filling. It can be curd, jam, ganache or buttercream.
Jeremy is making a peanut butter chocolate filling and reflects back to when he was 60 lbs heavier. He says it’s a constant battle to stay trim and bake at the same time.
James is making a tower with his macarons but says he’s using toothpicks since he’s crunched for time.
The bakers rush to finish their macarons as the clock winds down.
Whitney’s macarons didn’t go as planned even though she’s made that flavor over and over again.
Kolette is upset because she tried really hard, but her macarons still didn’t come out the way she liked.
Paul likes the flavor of James’s Earl Grey macarons.
The judges think Jeremy’s macarons are close to perfect and Paul says he’d be happy to put them in one of his five star hotels he’s worked in.
Marcela tells Whitney that everything that makes a macaron a macaron is missing. The tops aren’t smooth and they look like hamburgers. Paul also tells her to check her measurements because they’re not right.
The judges like the flavor of Brian’s macarons but Marcela doesn’t think he let them dry out enough. They’re mushy instead of crispy.
Paul thinks Darlene’s macarons are bland and lack flavor.
Marcela thought Francine’s filling overwhelmed the cookie and needed to be more delicate.
The judges loved Elaine’s macarons and think she nailed it.
The judges are disappointed with Effie’s macarons and say curry has no place in a macaron. Paul thinks they’re terrible.
Kolette breaks down and cries as she tells the judges how disappointed she is in herself. Marcela walks over to hug and comfort her as Paul takes a bite of her macaron. He doesn’t think there’s enough flavor. Marcela likes the filling but tells Kolette to “stay away from the glitter”.
Whitney believes she’s better than failed macarons and thinks “macarons suck” and Kolette doesn’t understand why she’s not better.
DELIBERATION AND ELIMINATION
Jeff tells the bakers it is now time for Marcela and Paul to decide who will be this week’s Star Baker and who will be going home.
During deliberation, Paul think Elaine’s flavors overall were lovely and could get her Star Baker. Marcela also thinks Jeremy is a contender for Star Baker which Jeff points out is interesting since Jeremy was at the bottom last week, but turned it around during cookie week. In danger of going home are Brian, Whitney and Kolette.
Elaine is awarded Star Baker.
Whitney is sent home because, she lacked technique and didn’t execute properly.
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