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The American Baking Competition cooks up a storm

Francine's Peanut Butter Bacon Pie was a surprise hit with judge Paul Hollywood on The American Baking Competition.

Francine’s Peanut Butter Bacon Pie was a surprise hit with judge Paul Hollywood on The American Baking Competition.

american-baking-competitionThere’s a delicious show on CBS these days called The American Baking Competition, a reality show aimed at finding the best amateur baker in the United States.

Move over MasterChef, I think this is the best new cooking show to hit the airwaves.

Pies, cookies, cakes, bread, and über-skillful desserts like croissants, macarons and soufflés are all part of the delicacies the contestants have to make in their baking challenges.

As a home baker myself, I’m hooked on this show. And I almost missed it. After the first episode aired in late May, my sister Carol called. “Did you see the new baking show? It’s so good, you should be on it!” she said.

I hadn’t even heard of it.

Brian ponders his pie.

Contestant Brian ponders his pie.

Then I remembered getting an e-mail about a casting call for this show last year. I decided not to audition.

Unlike most reality shows, the drama on The American Baking Competition, is confined to the cooking, where it should be. I really like that!

I also like Jeff Foxworthy, the show’s host. He’s funny but humble. He doesn’t pretend to to be a cooking expert. But he does like to eat.

The judges are another issue. I’ll get to them in a bit.

The format of the show is a tall order for the contestants. Each week they face three challenges:

Signature Bake — Using their own recipe for a dish they make for family and friends.

Technical Bake — All use the same ingredients with a recipe provided by the judges. The recipe has all the ingredients but is missing some instructions, challenging the knowledge and skill of the bakers.

Show-Stopper Bake — A bake designed to impress the judges.



The show started off with 10 contestants. At the end of each week, one contestant is named “Star Baker” while another is sent home. The winner will receive a cash prize of $250,000 plus a publishing contract with Simon & Schuster.

Ouch! Why did I ignore that casting email?

The competitors are interesting. You’ve got Francine, a homemaker from South Carolina, who whips up creations like Peanut Butter Bacon Pie and “Slap Yo Mama” Chocolate Fudge Cookies.

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s Darlene, a project manager from Georgia, who turns out sophisticated recipes like Twist and Turn Pesto Wheel Bread, and Black Sesame Macarons.

And then there’s the contestant who amazingly staves off elimination week after week even though his baking is often disastrous. Brian, a marketing executive from Illinois. has presented the judges with a number of sorry dishes such as an overbaked jalapeno and chorizo custard, and a pitiful fallen chocolate soufflé. The soufflé was so bad it took last place in the technical bake even though another contestant had underbaked hers and completely forgotten to add sugar.

Host Jeff Foxworthy looks on as Marcella and Paul do a taste testing.

Host Jeff Foxworthy looks on as judges Marcela and Paul do a taste testing.

My one criticism of the show is with the judges, Marcela Valladolid and Paul Hollywood. I just don’t like them. Marcela is a celebrity chef, author, and host of the Food Network Show Mexican Made Easy. Paul Hollywood is an English Baker and celebrity chef. He is a judge on the British show The Great British Bakeoff, the model for American Baking Competition.

They have no chemistry and exude a certain condescending smugness towards the contestants.

A few weeks ago, reports surfaced the two are now a “couple,” and that Hollywood has split with his wife of 14 years to be with Valladolid.

Guess there was chemistry between the two, but it was all backstage.

The judges’ canoodling aside, I can’t wait to see who prevails as the ultimate winner of the show.

If this show comes back next year, I won’t miss the audition.

Contestants in the new cooking series, The American Baking Competition

Contestants on the new cooking show, The American Baking Competition.

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13 thoughts on “The American Baking Competition cooks up a storm

  1. Paul Hollywood is a knob, and we don’t like him anymore, keep him over there please! 😉

    • Hi Sista! I don’t know what a knob is exactly, but that description works for me. He’s not very likeable. I guess he knows how to bake. I take it he is famous “across the pond?”

      • He was well known in baking circles but not to the general public until Great British Bake Off. It’s a great, addictive show, especially to those of us who bake, and a lot of women thought he was a bit of a ‘silver fox’ (never saw it myself) but now he’s done the oh so predictable thing of going off with another younger woman and leaving his wife as soon as he gained fame and fortune, he’s lost a lot of fans over here. We Brit females are very unforgiving in that way! 😉

      • I’d love to see episodes of the Great British Bakeoff. I’ll have to see if it’s on YouTube or somewhere. As for Mr. Hollywood (gah, is that his REAL name?), we Yank females aren’t so keen on what he did either. 😉

      • It’s a really good show. BBC are worried because everyone wants PH gone but Mary Berry (old school baker/co judge) has implied she’d go if he went, but Mel and Sue who present the show would be the biggest loss as far as I’m concerned, as both judges could easily be replaced. Have a look on YouTube, I’m sure there’ll be something on there.

        Men eh, yawn…..

        There’s an old saying over here goes ‘there’s no fool like an old fool’, and that’s clearly the same the world over….

      • We’re not so different after all! 😉

      • 🙂 ps knob = dick

      • Great, I know a number of knobs, now I have something kinda clean I can mutter under my breath. 😉

  2. PS Peanut butter and bacon?! Really?

    • Sigh, yep. It’s in everything. I’m getting kind of tired of seeing it in desserts. Been there done that – five years ago. The flavor combination does work – salty peanut butter, salty bacon. It’s just been done been done been done to death.

  3. Peppery Patrick on said:

    Hi patriciagay, I enjoyed your dialogue with sistasertraline about Paul Hollywood being a “knob” 😆
    Just want to say, as a guy, that I think he is a knob too and that not all of us men applaud or appreciate such behaviour (sorry, should spell it “behavior” on a US site 😆 )
    As it happens, I’ve always thought Paul Hollywood is a dickhead, even before he went and confirmed it. Some of his judging decisions over the years on “The Great British Bake-Off” have been inexplicable, except in showing his blatant bias towards certain contestants. There was one particular season – the first one, I think – where a particular contestant was *extremely* fortunate to scrape through week after week, thanks to Hollywood’s indulgence, and blow me, she ended up winning the thing. By the same token, one or two other contestants performed consistently well but then got the heave-ho as soon as they made a slip up, i.e. at the first opportunity Hollywood had to get rid of them in favour of his *chosen ones*.
    Additionally, there were various occasions where Mary Berry – a far more astute and objective judge – differed with Hollywood over who should be eliminated, but each time he would dig his heels in, insist on a further discussion, and you always knew what was going to happen – out went the one he wanted to ditch, as he more or less bullied the more consensual Mary into accepting his point of view, because there was no way he was ever going to back down himself.
    I’m rather surprised Mary Berry has said she’ll go if he goes, given all that, but then she is an altogether nicer and more intelligent person (and a much better baker and all-round cook, as well, having been one of Britain’s original TV cooks and stayed at the top for fifty years).
    So yes, like the equally ghastly Piers Morgan, you’re welcome to keep Mr Hollywood stateside in the view of most of us Brits, I’m afraid…..

    • Hey Peppery Patrick, great name! I did not like Paul Hollywood and the show did not get very good ratings. So maybe the network will make a change in the judges and bring it back another season? The basic concept of the show is a good one, and the show’s host, comedian Jeff Foxworthy, was terrific. I can see Mr. Hollywood being a bully and biased. That’s too bad about Mary Berry. PLEASE, please take Piers Morgan back! 😉

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