Highlights from Spring Baking Championship, Season 2

Relive the best and worst of the baking challenges, and find out which bakers earned a win — and who was sent home.
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Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Emile Wamsteker ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Episode 1: Challenging the Challenge

"You know what's really good in a shortcake, any kind of berries," Bobby tells the bakers, but then he reveals they'll have to bake shortcakes for their Pre Heat without using any berries. "I'm not really into the biscuit, whipped cream, fruit-type shortcake," says Dan, happily putting his own twist on Bobby's twist by making a genoise instead. "This recipe never turns out dry," he adds of his decision.

Part Cockiness, Part Modesty

"Being the youngest baker in the competition, the older people should be scared just because they don't know all the new stuff that's out there," says Najie. She's making a banana-and-chocolate pudding with a "plain old biscuit," as she calls it, selling herself short before the judges. "Dang, this is delicious," says Duff, but he finds the shortcake chewy. "It is kind of a plain old biscuit," Lorraine adds, jokingly.

A Different Direction Pays Off

"It's almost always dry," says Duff of the typical genoise. "But yours is not," he tells Dan after tasting the baker's caramelized peach and mascarpone shortcake, which Lorraine calls "exquisite." Bobby announces Dan as the winner of the Pre Heat. "I'm surprised a home baker just beat out a lot of great pastry chefs and bakers," says Kenny, jealous of Dan's advantage going into the Main Heat.

Amateur Bakers Can Bake Too

In the next challenge, the bakers must make a tiered naked cake featuring berries. With the advantage, Dan can choose a berry that no other competitor can utilize: "Hey, guys, I'm sorry I took all the strawberries," he calls out to his fellow bakers. Dan presents the judges with a Neapolitan cake of three different layers: chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. "You can bake," Duff tells him after tasting it.

Staking Claim to Sweet Redemption

"This challenge is really important for me," says Susanna, who didn't have a chance to give the judges a first impression during the last round, when she cut herself and had to leave to get stitches. This is an opportunity to show off her chocolatier skills. "I'm going to win this heat, and I'm going to get redemption," she adds. "The chocolate work is really nice," Duff says, complimenting Susana's presentation, and he likes the flavor too.

When Things Fall Apart

Feeling good about the challenge, Audrey is almost happy to take on Bobby's twist of utilizing Key limes in her cake. Things take a turn for the worse, however, as the cakes don't bake in time. "Quitting is not in my playbook," she says, fitting together pieces of underbaked cake just to have something on her plate. The judges give their honest opinion. "[It's] the best cake I've had ... in a long time," Nancy says, which catches Audrey by surprise.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

Love Is in the Spring Air

"I'm getting cinnamon, nutmeg, the juniper, which is kind of making me lean a bit more towards the fall," says Lorraine after tasting William's allspice cake, which he claims has love-spell qualities, especially during springtime. "I know it's the spell," Lorraine adds. "Hopefully it won't work on me," she says as Duff leans in for some sugar. "Not interested," she says to Duff while giving him the side-eye.

Looks Can Be Deceiving

"This is not a good cake," Duff says of Najie's vanilla bean and berry cake. "It tastes like bread." And Lorraine can't understand why it isn't sweet when Najie used both white and brown sugars. "But it looks stunning," Lorraine adds. Najie ends up in the bottom two along with Audrey. Even though Audrey's cake looked like a travesty, its flavor was superior. In the end, taste wins over appearance, and Najie goes home.

Finale: Disappointing the Guys

"I'm really looking to represent the fact that these desserts are for dudes," says Dan of the Pre Heat, which has the bakers making welcome baskets for groomsmen. "I think I got the pizza, the cheese, the nuts and the beer covered," Dan tells the judges of his three offerings: cheese and pepperoni pretzel sticks, stout doughnuts and macadamia cookies. But Nancy thinks his basket looks "a little delicate." The judges say the same about Susana's basket, which includes plum frangipane tarts.

Knowing Her Clientele

"I feel like a lot of my flavors and my rustic food speaks to ... guys," says Jane, "especially if these guys have been drinking all night," she adds of her choice of treats, which include peanut butter cookies and malt blondies. Excited to incorporate the twist of bourbon, Jane uses it for her cornbread. "It really looks like a man basket," says Duff. But Lorraine doesn't care for the bourbon-glazed cornbread, saying she'd prefer the drink in a shot glass. Jane wins the Pre Heat and an advantage.

As Long as It's Somewhere in Italy

With her advantage Jane chooses the destination-wedding theme for herself and her rivals, giving Susana Italy. Despite having hoped for Mexico, Susana creates a tiramisu-inspired cake. Unfortunately, when she is covering her top layer with fondant, it cracks. To hide the crack, she decorates it to look like Rome's Colosseum, but the judges can't decide what it really looks like. "I'd maybe call it the Leaning Tower of Pisa," says Duff. Nancy, however, disagrees. "It's still in Italy, so I'm good with that," says Susana.

When Flavor Trumps Looks

"I can decorate a cake, but it's not my forte," says Jane, who's made only one wedding cake before. For her Hawaiian theme, Jane incorporates the flavors of passion fruit, coconut and rum. Everything's going fine until it comes time to assemble the layers. "Every single cake is stuck in its pan," she says, frustrated. But she pieces them back together, and frosts them so no one can tell. "I don't think it really screams 'Hawaii,'" says Duff of her decorations, but all the judges agree it tastes delicious.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

Teaching an Old Baker a New Trick

"I just don't think it's appropriate," says Nancy of Dan's decision to make a personalized mini chalkboard for his Mexican dulce de leche cake, but besides that the judges are really impressed by his rice-paper flowers and his fondant work. Dan tells Duff his secret for getting the cake layers perfectly smooth: "I actually frosted them upside down." "Not too many people teach me a new trick," Duff says with a smile. "Any bride would be proud to have that at her wedding," Lorraine says of the cake.

The New Spring Baking Champion

Discussing the three finalists' cakes, Nancy and Duff feel Dan's could have had more dulce de leche flavor. "Susana took me to Italy," Nancy says. "Were you in Pisa or Rome?" Lorraine asks, jokingly. But Duff didn't think he tasted enough tiramisu flavor. "I didn't quite get all of Hawaii in it," says Lorraine of Jane's cake. But Duff feels the flavor was "100 percent." After some disagreement, the judges come to a decision. Bobby announces Jane has won the championship and the $50,000.

Episode 5: It's Never Too Late to Win

"I better damn win this one," says Kenny, working on his brown butter cake for the Mother's Day-themed Pre Heat. Having yet to win, he's going all in on presentation, using his assigned gift of perfume as inspiration to create his own mint perfume in an isomalt bottle. The guest judge, also Duff's mom, Jackie, calls it "very, very elegant." And Duff calls the edible perfume bottle "genius." Lorraine finds it the perfect combination of "stunning" plating and good flavor. Kenny finally wins his first challenge.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

Getting Too Enthusiastic with Ingredients

"I said, 'Gentleman, be careful with the ladies.' And it turned out I called that wrong," says Bobby as the bakers run to grab their Main Heat ingredients with Jane tackling Kenny for the bitters. Inspired by an old-fashioned cocktail, she sprays her chocolate cakes with a liquor mixture before dusting them with cocoa powder. But the judges call her out for excessive amounts of cocoa; Lorraine compares getting to the cake, albeit a very successful cake, to a "mining exhibition."

Putting Too Much Pressure on Presentation

With the advantage of Season 1 baker Damiano, Kenny decides to utilize him to create the perfect gelato to pair with his chocolate cake. "I want to make sure that there's no doubt that this is Earl Grey tea," he says of his chosen flavor. But a twist that requires sugar work takes Kenny's attention away and he overchurns Damiano's gelato. A new batch turns out too bitter, and he presents the judges with plates that look all too familiar. "I loved it the last time you showed it to me as well," Duff tells him cynically.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

A Spicy Twist on Chocolate

"I beg your pardon," says Bobby when Susana tells him she's making a chocolate salami with dried fruits, nuts and her chosen ingredient, curry powder. The spice also plays a part in her brownies, which come out undercooked. Luckily she has time to stick them back in the oven. "I think I need to eat the whole brownie," says Nancy. Despite the praise, Duff and Lorraine find the curry flavor too faint. Susana and Jane make the top two, but Jane wins the Main Heat.

Determining How Much Flavor Is Too Little

All that Dan's left with for his dessert is Gorgonzola cheese, which both he and Bobby liken to gym socks. He decides to hide the pungent flavor in cream cheese swirl brownies, but he purposely makes the flavor subtle enough so that it comes through only "toward the end of the tasting," he says. But the judges unanimously feel the blue cheese flavor was lacking. Dan and Kenny end up in the bottom two, but the judges decide to send Kenny home for not wowing them with his flavors.

Episode 4: The Baker to Beet

"Right now the baker to beat is me," says Jane, who won both heats the previous week. But Kenny is itching for his first win. Using beets for this week's produce-inspired Pre Heat, Kenny decides to cook them in the pressure cooker. But after it results in a scorched mess, he resorts to cooking julienned beets in simple syrup. "I'm definitely getting beet flavor," says Lorraine after tasting his Pavlovas, but she thinks it's not sweet enough.

Squashing the Competition

Bobby notes how Jane's still glowing with confidence from last week's winning streak. "It's because I'm sweating," jokes Jane. Using summer squash, she comes up with a mascarpone tart topped with roasted sliced squash. Duff calls it worthy of a magazine cover. "I guess everything she does is perfect," says Dan, who got rave reviews for his tomato muffins. Despite his and Kenny's efforts to beat their competitor, Jane wins the challenge.

Going to Eggs-traordinary Lengths

"This bacon-and-egg dish needs to be the absolute best it can be," says Kenny of the breakfast-inspired Main Heat. Putting on his mad-scientist cap, he turns the passion fruit-mango coulis into a sphere to create faux egg yolks for the Marshmallow Fluff atop his bacon-espresso blondies. "I could weep at its beauty," Nancy says upon seeing it. Despite Kenny receiving positive reviews, Dan wins with his bacon and pecan tarts with coffee custard. "Kenny, you're going to get there, man," Bobby tells him.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

Scrambling to Finish

"My heart is just dropping," Susana says when she realizes her creme brulees are baking too quickly and almost burning. "I really need a prayer right now," she says, popping them into the blast chiller. When it comes time to present her dessert, she calls it a cross between a creme brulee and a flan, but Lorraine's not having it. "You have to make up a new name for it," Lorraine says half-jokingly. "It's a little bit scrambled, but it's also a little bit undercooked," Duff points out.

An Unfinished Ending

"It doesn't feel finished," says Nancy upon seeing Audrey's naked bacon cake layered with buttercream and green apple slices. And Lorraine points out her coffee ice cream is overchurned, possibly due to the addition of bacon fat. Jane's first-ever bacon doughnuts also fall flat on the judges, with Nancy picking up on a chemical taste. But it's Audrey and Susana who end up in the bottom, with the judges deciding to send home former front-runner Audrey.

Episode 3: Fondue, Blast from the Past

"I have three fondue pots at home," says Jane, excited about the Pre Heat, which Bobby reveals will require the bakers to make a dessert fondue with a cookie dipper for a chance to earn an advantage in the Main Heat. "Fondue could be very '70s. I guess I could probably Google it," says Dan, who's not so sure about the challenge. "I was around in the '70s," says William. "They don't know what a good fondue is," he says of his competitors.

Shaping Up to Be a Letdown

"I have this amazing design idea that I'll turn it into a little spoon," says Audrey of the anise cookies she's making for dipping into her almond fondue. Unfortunately the cookies spread beyond recognition in the oven. "Maybe they'll give me an A for effort," she says. Lorraine holds the cookie up to a spoon for comparison and is disappointed. "I think it looks like a bomb," says Duff. The judges find the cookie's flavor overwhelming and the fondue bitter.

Taking Turns Praising the Sauce

"Honestly, I love Scotch and I wanted to use it in my food today," says Jane, adding it to her caramel fondue after taking a swig. "I want to take a bath in it," she says, tasting her sauce once it's finished. After tasting the boozy fondue, Duff wants to drink it all. "I want to bottle this," says Nancy. Despite Jane's shortbread being slightly salty, she wins the round — and a 10-minute head start in the Main Heat.

Special Delivery Request

"I don't want my food to have too much artificial color," says Jane, who's using all-natural colors in the rainbow Main Heat. When it comes to using the colors blue and black, she has no choice but to use colored sprinkles. Even though the judges think she could have used color more prominently, they love her olive oil cake. "You have got to start sending me those for Christmas," says Duff. Lorraine seconds the request, and Jane promises to take one to London for her. Jane wins the Main Heat.

Macaron Face-Off

"You seem like a pretty hip dude," Duff tells Dan, who's presented colorful macarons for the judges. "This looks a little Miami Vice," Duff adds. But the reference goes over Dan's head. "He's too young," Nancy adds, laughing it off. Lorraine disagrees, thinking it looks "childlike" instead. Unfortunately for Dan, Susana's macarons are far more successful: "The dome is just as pretty as Duff's head," says Nancy.

Questionable Ingredient Choices

After William serves the judges fallen angel food cupcakes with shortening frosting, which he admitted to using for kids' parties, he ends up in the bottom. "Why would you make a shortening frosting on the Spring Baking Championship?" Duff asks, suggesting whipped cream instead. And Audrey places in the bottom for her "glow-in-the-dark" green pistachio custard tart. William is sent home.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

Episode 2: A Clever Save with Soggy Consequences

With an advantage from last week's win, Susana hands out the assignments in the Pre Heat challenge: desserts inspired by ballpark treats. "I couldn't be happier," says Kenny upon receiving popcorn. His idea is to make sable cookies and a corn custard set in cylinders; unfortunately it doesn't set, so he ends up selling it as a sauce. "The sauce just made it mush," Nancy declares about the soggy cookie.

Pastries Gone Wrong

"I personally just hate soda," says Dustin, who received root beer. He decides to incorporate it into every aspect of his dessert: the eclair, the filling and the glaze. But his treats don't turn out as successful as he'd hoped. "I don't even want the judges to eat it," he says. Lorraine thinks the eclair looks lonely, but Nancy defends him. "This better taste good," she adds, but it doesn't. "Strike out," says Nancy, finding hers void of filling. "Fortunately it's Pre Heat," says Lorraine.

She's Back in the Game

"I remember those nasty cheese nachos that my kids always want," says Audrey, when Susana assigns her tortilla chips. So she comes up with puff pastry chips with chocolate cake crumbles and matcha ice cream to represent guacamole. "I'm actually quite blown away by this," Lorraine tells her. Nancy calls it a "home run." Bobby announces Audrey's dessert earned a "grand slam," and she wins the challenge.

Good Practice for Dessert Impostors

"So I already did the challenge, right?" Audrey asks Bobby after he reveals the bakers now must make barbecue impostors in the Main Heat. She doesn't get off that easy, however, as she gets to assign the dishes to her fellow bakers. Choosing ribs and corn on the cob for herself, she envisions brownies for the ribs and cereal treats for the corn. Jane goes a similar route for her lamb chops and grilled vegetables, making brownies to represent the chops and fruit kebabs for the side.

Shaping Up to Be a Challenge

To replicate grilled sausages, William makes a ganache with dried cranberries and chopped walnuts, but it turns out broken. Luckily he saves it by adding cold cream. But while rolling out the mixture to resemble sausages, William says, "It could possibly come across as a piece of poop on a plate." Nancy wishes the sausages had more of a rounded end, but she likes the flavors of his "German potato salad."

Brownie vs. Brownie

The judges narrow down the winning dish to be either Audrey's or Jane's. Both bakers made brownies resembling proteins. "I did find some parts of Audrey's brownie were quite dry, unlike Jane's," Lorraine points out, but Jane's vegetable skewers weren't as successful as Audrey's corn on the cob. Bobby announces Audrey has won. "Not only did I redeem myself, I knocked it out of the ballpark," says Audrey.

Getting Grilled on the Spot

Dustin's grilled shrimp with macaroni salad isn't so well-received by the judges. "I would have liked to have seen something look more shrimp-like," says Lorraine, pointing out the only thing he baked, the skewer cracker, is flaccid. "Should there be flavor in the pear?" Nancy asks Dustin. The other judges concur that the flavor is definitely lacking. William joins Dustin in the bottom two, but Dustin is sent home.

Watch the Highlight: Season 2 Highlights

More Spring Baking Championship

Get to know the bakers and the judges, go behind the scenes of the competition with photo galleries and exclusive videos, and relive the baking challenges.

Spring Baking Championship