The Great Holiday Bake-Off, Pt. 2

by | Dec 11, 2015 | Humor, Pop Culture

Yule Log | Flickr User Yongjiet | Flickr Creative Commons

Well here we are, week two of the Great Holiday Baking Show, I even stayed up until 11:00 PM to watch it.  This was quite a shock as I’m usually in bed by 9:30; but I did it for you! And what better way to end the day then watching amateur bakers bake holiday desserts?

Last week was cookie week, and I was really intrigued by gingerbread because I’ve never made that before.  So I tried out Eddie’s recipe, unfortunately not too successfully.  I grated fresh ginger, which wasn’t too hard at all and was cheaper than buying ground ginger in the spice aisle.  There was a crisp but fluffy feel to the cookies.  What I didn’t anticipate was how long it takes to pipe royal frosting on each cookie. My first few attempts were not really attractive. But you know what, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?  Practice, practice, practice! Fortunately I live with a group of Jesuits who are always encouraging me to practice my baking for some reason.    

Week Two brought us another exciting challenge: Cake!  For the five returning bakers, their first task was to make a Buche de Noel, more commonly known as a Yule Log — not the one you watch on TV, but a dessert that resembles a log.  I marvel at the history of these desserts, I mean who was sitting around one day and thought “you know what would be great, if we made a cake that looked like a log and we could even put fake mushrooms on it- MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!”.  Either way, it looks delicious and really hard to make, especially the decorating part.

In the technical bake, the bakers all had to make Johnny Iuzzini’s Tiramisu Christmas Cake.  This cake looks really fun to make, especially if you had the whole recipe, which the bakers did not.  Now here is my question for all you bakers out there, I can’t stand the taste of coffee and I think it ruins desserts.  Can I substitute espresso for something or does it cease being Tiramisu if I do that?  I think this is the recipe I want to make this week, I’m sure it’ll be a disaster, but I’ll tie it all up with a red bow.  

In the last challenge, the show stopper as it likes to be called, the bakers had to make a fruitcake with a twelve days of christmas theme.  I was impressed with the creativity of most of the bakers, but poor Ainslie who was doing so well, her idea just sort of fell apart. It was in this portion of the show that I was introduced to the idea of naked cake.  Apparently this is a new trend where you don’t frost the sides of the cake, you allow the cake and the filling to be the decoration; I’m against it on principle.  But someone had to go home and this week the judges asked Eddie, who apparently had great flavors but whose desserts didn’t always look great.  Eddie, we’ve all been there, I mean not on the Great Holiday Baking Show, but made something that didn’t look great but was really tasty.     


Cover Image, Yule Log, by Flickr User Yongjiet, via Flickr Creative Commons, available here.


Jason Downer, SJ   /   All posts by Jason