In the first challenge, host Jesse Palmer asks the 10 bakers to introduce themselves with edible place cards and one-bite signature holiday desserts. The main heat is all about holiday wreath cakes, and the competitors must bake and decorate a Danish Kransekake featuring holiday ingredients like chestnuts, graham crackers or toffee. Judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascale have the final say in which baker goes home.
The popularity of holiday spiced nuts inspires Jesse Palmer's challenge to the nine bakers: Use the crowd-pleasing holiday gift to create holiday spiced nut desserts. In the main heat, each baker must make three pies using an assigned harvest ingredient and decorate each pie crust differently. Judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascale send one baker packing.
Apple cider doughnuts are a sure sign of fall, so in the first round, Jesse Palmer asks the eight bakers to create a dozen kicked-up apple cider doughnuts decorated with seasonal themes. Then the bakers must transform a classic holiday yule log into a festive Thanksgiving roll cake, and judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascale decide which competitor's cake falls short.
In the first challenge, Jesse Palmer tasks the seven bakers with taking a beloved holiday appetizer to a whole new level with baked Brie and jam mini pies. The main heat is all about being prepared for greatness as the bakers take a prepared ingredient and use it to make a crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving dessert. In the end, judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascale send one competitor home.
Jesse Palmer teaches the six bakers a lesson in repurposing holiday gifts in the first round, when they must turn panettone, the classic holiday Italian sweet bread, into an entirely new dessert. Then they're challenged to create a beautifully decorated cupcake mosaic inspired by a pair of holiday pajamas. Judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascale send one baker packing.
Jesse Palmer challenges the five bakers to create assigned desserts that are inspired by and look like Santa Claus. To secure their place in the final four, the bakers are tasked with creating impressive cakes made to look like another icy North Pole staple: an igloo. Judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascale decide which bakers move on to the next round and which one goes home.
Some of the tastiest treats of Hanukkah are gold-covered chocolate coins, and Jesse Palmer challenges the four remaining bakers to give the classic treat a twist by incorporating candied orange, espresso beans, smoked salt or toasted coconut and create a dessert highlighting their chosen flavor. In the second challenge, the competitors bake up delicious cheesecakes with an assigned crust and decorated with an edible shiny ice rink on top. Judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascale get serious about which three bakers move on to the finale.
Nothing beats waking up to the smell of a holiday brunch, so Jesse Palmer challenges the three remaining bakers to make a Christmas morning brunch using the classic holiday flavors of gingerbread, cinnamon and eggnog. In the final round, the bakers must create cakes that are plaid both on the inside and the outside. Judges Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascale crown one baker the Holiday Baking Champion and award the $25,000 prize.