by Duff Goldman in Shows, June 2nd, 2015
by Duff Goldman in Shows, May 26th, 2015
We had celebrated spring moments like Memorial Day, Mother’s Day and pie-packed picnics. We had tasted spring flavors highlighted in numerous ways, and I even picked up a trick or two myself (thanks, bakers!). It’s amazing when you think about how many talented bakers left Spring Baking Championship. They were already winners because they beat out thousands of other bakers to get to the Baking Championship kitchen.
But on Sunday three gentlemen remained to compete for the dough (see what I did there?) and title of Spring Baking Champion, and it was a challenge like no other. These guys had to make three desserts for a wedding dessert bar to compete for an advantage in the Main Heat, in which they had to make one of the most-difficult desserts of all — a wedding cake. It’s been a crazy ride so far, and these three bakers have been gunning for each other since day one. It’s almost like they knew it would come down to this. Let’s get into it and review what these cats created.
by Duff Goldman in Shows, May 18th, 2015
I love picnics, and nothing says picnic more than fresh-baked pie. These guys on Spring Baking Championship had 90 minutes to make a delicious pie. Doesn’t seem that tough, right? Wrong! You can bang out a decent pie if you’ve had some practice, but it could be a disaster if it’s been a while since you made one. Pies are a great way to judge baking skills since they involve many steps, and someone with little experience will invariably miss something.
by Duff Goldman in Shows, May 11th, 2015
Alright, baking fans, things are getting serious. Last week proved how tough this competition is: Juliana, an immensely talented baker, had to go home. Tough break, but that’s Spring Baking Championship. This week the remaining five bakers started their challenge by making desserts on a stick. Anyone who has been to any state fair knows that making food on a stick is about as American as it gets. Hopefully Damiano has been to a state fair; if not, we will be regaled by tales of a stick-free Italy while he makes something incredibly delicious. Andy seemed a bit worried about desserts on sticks when he said, “They don’t teach this in culinary school.” But I was convinced he was being modest. Dwayne went three for three in the first three challenges and hasn’t been back on the podium since, and I know that he’s hungry for it. He’s a sweet guy, but he has the eye of the tiger.
by Duff Goldman in Shows, May 4th, 2015
As a chef, my biggest inspiration is my mom, so what better way to show her my appreciation than to cook for her on Mother’s Day? I’m on the road right now, Mom, but when I get back, I got a treat for you!
This week on Spring Baking Championship we asked all the bakers to bake for their moms. The first thing they had to make was something yummy using coffee and cream. I loved this challenge. I’m not a daily coffee drinker, but I love the flavor of coffee and I frequently try to use coffee desserts when writing menus. Here’s a fun fact: Coffee is to chocolate like salt is to beef. A little bit of coffee in a chocolate dessert will really make those chocolate flavors stand out without tasting like coffee. Try it next time you are baking a chocolate cake; you’ll be amazed. Now onto the competition.
by Duff Goldman in Shows, April 27th, 2015
Spring is definitely here, and while most of us are settling into baseball season, going on picnics or starting that gauntlet that exists between spring break and summer vacation, the remaining seven bakers on Spring Baking Championship are back in the kitchen and getting ready to bake some honey sweetness. It’s always interesting to see how the bakers react in week 2. One of their fellow bakers has been eliminated and now it is very real. You can be asked to walk the plank at any moment, but that $50,000 is that much closer to being yours. The level of competition just got steeper.
by Duff Goldman in Shows, February 24th, 2015
Hey, baking fans! It’s spring and it’s time to … bake? Yeah, that’s what I said too! I bake all year long and mark my calendar by the treats that are coming out of my oven. I know it’s time to start buying presents when I have baked the last pecan pie for Thanksgiving. I know it’s Super Bowl time when I bake my brother’s birthday cake. Spring, though, I had to think about. It’s not as obvious as Thanksgiving or Christmas or Hanukkah. But as I prepared for Spring Baking Championship, I started seeing some really familiar desserts, and that got my wheels turning.
Chiffon cake, buckle, lemon anything, rhubarb, trifle, pavlova — all these desserts are the pastry chef’s expression of baking in the spring. They are all light, with delicate textures and fruity flavors that are perfect for shrugging off that winter coat and getting ready to be outside a lot more. These were the challenges that the bakers faced in creating these sweets, and Lorraine Pascale, Nancy Fuller and I we were super excited to be tasting flavors and textures that we ourselves were gearing up to use.
by Duff Goldman in Shows, February 17th, 2015
Man, what a journey, huh? These kids have shown their mettle and really impressed the world with how much they know and understand about baking. I loved the final challenge on Kids Baking Championship, because, yeah, I know a lot about cooking and baking, but cake decorating is kind of my thing. I was so stoked to see what these kids could do, because I know from working with so many kids over the years, kids love to decorate cakes! Well, most kids — Natalie didn’t seem too thrilled about the prospect.
The thing about cakes is that they are a commitment. You have to work on this one thing for a long time, and when you do, there are more things that can go wrong and trip you up. There more ways to fail with a decorated cake than, say, a batch of chocolate chip cookies. The stakes here are real high, this for the win, but even more important, the winner of this challenge got their cake on my website, and I don’t sell just any old cake; I’m looking for a cake that is going to wow my customers.
by Duff Goldman in Shows, February 10th, 2015
Cream puffs and éclairs! This was a tough challenge on Kids Baking Championship. I didn’t learn how to make pate a choux until I was at least 19 or 20. Natalie saw all these treats and she was freaked out! I knew Hollis was going to be excited; she made killer pate a choux bagels in the last challenge, Dessert Imposters, and I think she had a mental edge over everyone else. I was really stoked for Annika too. She had what I think was the toughest challenge when she had to make sushi. Burgers, pizza, spaghetti — these are all items I would choose to make in a competition before I would attempt sushi, which is much more colorful and complex. She came in second to last in that episode, and she was mad!
Annika was super confident about pate a choux and that’s good to see. Jackson was feeling really good as well. He knows this dough and is ready to bake! The fact that so many of these kids understood such a difficult and complex pastry is mind-blowing, and after the competition, I called my mom and asked her why she didn’t have me making pate a choux when I was 11. She said I wasn’t ready for it. Wait until she sees this episode. She’s going to eat her words (and not my éclairs!).
by Duff Goldman in Shows, February 4th, 2015
Dessert Imposters! Now, this is in my wheelhouse! Ninety percent of what we do at Charm City Cakes is make cakes that look like other things, and a lot of times we make cakes that look like other kinds of food. Last week I made a cake for a chef in Los Angeles that was a giant pile of raw meat. True story. This week’s challenge was so much fun on Kids Baking Championship, but it was also one of the most difficult for the kids. They had to recreate foods using sweet, baked stuff. It’s very tricky to get right, because you really have to sell the idea that, no, this is not a cake, this is a plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
Last week was really tough, but I think the kids gained an advantage in that they got used to the cameras, lights and even my big loud mouth, and I think they really stepped it up when they faced an even bigger challenge than the bake sale.
Captain’s log. Star date 2-4-15. This is the voyage of eight amazing bakers who are baking things at 11, 12 and 13 that I could barely do when I graduated culinary school! These kids are incredible, and I want to share with you what you saw on Kids Baking Championship from my own perspective as not only a mentor and judge, but as a professional pastry chef.
Here’s the thing about these kinds of competitions: You prepare. You practice. You get your game face on. But when that clock starts, and you have only two hours to bake up some magic, it’s very easy to freeze up and forget everything you know. Believe me. Do any of you remember my vacant blank stare on Food Network Challenge? These kids, though, get right into it. They run, but they were unfazed and ready — well, almost unfazed.