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The American Baking Competition - Wednesdays, CBS-TV, 8pm EST

This one premiered on 5/29. Since I don't have cable, I am unfamiliar with the judges. They seem to be setting up Francine, a hefty middle-aged Southern blonde (the Paula Deen clone?), as the one to beat. But so far, there does not seem to be a particularly obnoxious contestant to hatewatch. That's a surprise, as it's part of the established reality competition formula. Maybe we're supposed to dislike Francine.

The challenges were difficult, since baking is fussier than other cooking.
The time allotted was pretty tight, and competitors were unfamiliar with the ovens and other equipment they were using. In the savory meat pie challenge, they were given a list of ingredients but no instructions, and it had to be a hot-water crust, which is not something called for in most pie dough recipes. Most of the crusts were not very successful but viewers had no indication which, if any, contestants were familiar with the process.


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  1. I liked this show more than I thought I would. I was disappointed that the network failed to post the recipes on their website, even though there was a spot for them. They dropped the ball there.

    Paul Hollywood is one of the judges; I recall selling one of his books in a garage sale years ago. He was unfamiliar with the use of bacon in sweet applications; has he been living under a rock?

    2 Replies
    1. re: sandylc

      That was my thought exactly - he's never had or heard of chocolate covered bacon?? How could he be a judge of any food competition if he's so behind the times.

      1. re: pley

        I looked again. Evidently I TRIED to sell his book (the sticker is still on it), but it wasn't bought. So I have been looking through it. It isn't very impressive....there are some edting issues, such as recipes on facing pages with different names, yet almost the exact same ingredients and amounts, and one says it produces one 1-lb loaf and the other says 2 1-lb loaves.

        Also, breads such as Pain de Campagne are mixed straight and baked right away, which in my experience does not produce the desired result.

        O.K., done.

    2. I got turned of by the judges Jeff Foxworthy? And then Marisa Hemorrhoid or what ever her name is best a bad contestant on Martha Stewart's version of the apprentice. She since gone on to do equally bad Mexican cooking shows. Paul Hollywood fit the mandatory role of British judge he at least is a baker and did UK version of the show.

      5 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          Very true. But still seems like an odd coice.

          1. re: Withnail42

            I thought JF was a very odd choice, also. Definitely do not associate him with good food. Thankfully he plays an unobtrusive role.

          2. re: greygarious

            Exactly, grey. I find JF a very good choice for a host. He seems truly interested and keep the shows "feet on the ground" with none of the high mindedness one get on some of the other cooking show. Even the judges do not pose themselves as "Gods" of cooking! Enjoyable show.

          3. re: Withnail42

            I've learned some things from Marcela Valladolid. I'm not always enamored of her recipes, but some of them are staples in my repertoire, and she's easy on the eyes to boot. If I were to watch the show it would be because of her.

          4. The American Baking Competition actually airs on the CBS television network.

            2 Replies
            1. re: chazpage

              Oops, you're right. There's a repeat Sunday at 8.

              1. re: greygarious

                Hmm...I was out to dinner on Wednesday so didn't think to watch it (but was also watching MasterChef when I got home). Perhaps I'll try and catch this repeat tonight.

            2. Oh, boy, I am watching the cookie episode now. Can they find any more ways to incorrectly pronounce "macaron" and "macarons"?

              2 Replies
              1. re: sandylc

                Oh my god they did not...really? Funny Same challenge on masterchef this week with macaroons:) and someone complained about the wording. They should all be shot how dare they.I have a lot of British friends and funny thing is they can't pronounce the "TH" like in Through it's Frough...what I don't do is get on a high horse and correct them:)

                1. re: sandylc

                  Last night, Francine knew what croquembouche means in French, but thought it's pronounced "crooked bush", which is a pretty decent eggcorn, not to mention an apt description of what most of the choux towers looked like. The French pastry tasks were pretty daunting, and the time very tight, so it's no surprise that it was no one's finest hour.

                2. I'm excited about the potential for this show. It's the American version of the Great British Bake-Off, which has been on the air for three seasons now and which I've greatly enjoyed. So far, it matches up with the British version, which has a lovely, homey feel to it. Different from most reality shows. I hope the American one stays fun, accessible and not overly dramatic.

                  1. I watched this show for the first time this weekin a marathon of taped episodes of it and NFNWS. Interesting comparisons when back to back, and I think that this show is better tv for most of the same reasons that others have stated here.
                    But I had never heard of either of the judges, so I googled them, and according to the Daily Mail, both of them have left their spouses for each other ... is that the new bar for reality tv ratings?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: badrockandroll

                      Marcela Valladolid isn't married. And all this caused her to shut down her Facebook page. It's ridiculous. Their personal lives are none of mine or anyone else's business. I will never understand the way the public thinks if you do one thing well they get to sit in judgement of your whole life.

                      1. I'm enjoying this show. I find it interesting everyone's interpretation of their specialities and the differences in regional and personal tastes. But, what I really like about the show is that there isn't any overt meanness to it. On the most part, the judges give constructive criticism but do so in a way that isn't mean spirited. Most of the contestants know when/if they've baked or presented poorly.

                        But, I find Hollywood's taste a bit limited. He's never heard of bacon and chocolate or chili pepper and chocolate? I want to find that bacon and chocolate recipe (I've already forgotten what kind of baked good it was but it looked delicious).

                        1. After The Taste debacle, the casting agency for this show sent me an audition. I declined. And now all my friends are saying how good this show is and how well I would have done... I better watch it I guess. Wonder if it's available on demand or hulu...

                          5 Replies
                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              Thanks Linda! I caught the second and third episodes, for some reason episode number one was not available.

                              I gotta be honest, this show is not bad!


                              1. There's NO fake personality drama, zero. The drama comes from the baking challenges where it should be.

                              2. Jeff Foxworthy looks like he's having fun! He's not pretending to be a cooking expert, and he sure does like to eat! I like him as the host.

                              3. The challenges are interesting. Contestants make their signature dish, then a challenge, then a showstopper. I think it's a great way to test their mettle.

                              4. They give the cooks enough time to bake! Thank you!

                              5. There's actually a couple things I want to make!


                              1. I'm being picky, but I don't like the two judges just by themselves, wish they had a special guest third judge for each episode.

                              2. Some of the contestants are extremely weak bakers, not sure how they made it on.

                              Overall, I enjoyed this show. If it comes back again, I'd audition... maybe.

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                I like trainwrecks ... as shown by my loyalty to Hell's Kitchen (yes we are down to 5 chefs) and Masterchef (with amazing awesome exquisite Walmart steaks) guess I'll have to go take a look.

                                1. re: Firegoat

                                  I'm with ya on MasterChef, but I gave up HK several seasons ago (after the local-to-me blue-haired chef came in runner-up).

                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                    I love blue haired guy. He was robbed. I'd love to try his restaurant. And no, I can't give up on HK. or Kitchen Nightmares......

                            2. Just started the first episode on CBS... I've already gained 5 pounds and we're still in the intro.

                              1. I am already liking their choice of a funny male host (Foxworthy) instead of another Padma, Lisa Ray, Katie Joel clone.

                                1. Okay, apparently Marcella and Hollywood are dating. I wish I hadn't wandered onto that discussion. And I guess he was married. I hate when I ruin shows for myself.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Firegoat

                                    UGH! Oh Firegoat....

                                    And her show is called Mexican Made Easy. Yeah, I guess so!

                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                      I KNOW. I was kind of liking this show. Foxworthy has turned out to be one of the most likable cooking show hosts in a long time. Now I'm just kind of cringing at the judges :( I am sorry I shared.

                                      1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                        Ha. The Mexican Made Easy did make me laugh

                                    2. One thing I like about this show, over say some of FN's baking competition shows is a) the variety of foods made and that b) they seems like things people would reasonable cook. No crazy weird cupcake only competition, or giant sugar sculptures. I'm excited to see pretzels/bread next week. And I've been starving for a good baked pretzel ever since watching that preview. (with cheese sauce).

                                      1. I stumbled upon it for the first time this week. It struck me because the set looks just like the set on a similar french show.

                                        It was sad to see the guys surprise pie cake not come out correctly... and I can't believe it's Jeff foxworthy hosting! I'd have preferred Mario Lopez ;) but he'd have to be shirtless

                                        Ok I'll stop

                                        1. Okay, this link made me laugh. I swear he looks like he's channeling Guy Fieri


                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Firegoat

                                            Ooh, icky. He is making a fool of himself. I feel like telling him to put his middle-aged tongue back in his mouth.

                                            1. re: sandylc

                                              He better not be poking anyone's buns tonight!

                                          2. On last night's competition the contestants had to make "Desserts."

                                            Brian cracked me up with his Jalapeno and Chorizo Custard and his pitiful Chocolate Souffle. I feel bad for Effie. She really redeemed herself with her Hazelnut Meringue Torte. It was a true Showstopper.


                                            1. I missed it AGAIN. Gahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hoping I can stream all of the episodes but I'm not optimistic

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. I'm in the middle of watching the broadcast of the Pastry episode.

                                                OK, someone PLEASE tell me HOW they can POSSIBLY make Napoleons with puff pastry from scratch in 2 1/2 hours???????????

                                                That isn't even enough time to chill the pastry before rolling and baking it!!!!!!!!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. I really like this show. Sad we're almost at the finale. Really hope it gets a second season.

                                                  1. About the winner (don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen the last episode): I'd like to know if anyone else felt as I did--that really none of these people were worthy of being called "America's Best Amateur Baker"?

                                                    I did enjoy the show, but kept thinking that surely some of the folks on Chowhound could do better than that! (I freely admit that I couldn't have--nor would I WANT to spend 5 hours making a stupid croissant. ;-)

                                                    13 Replies
                                                    1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                      I finally watched the finale today and won't give it away either but the judges did zero in on one of my pet peeves. I absolutely hate eating a piece of cake that appears to have a nice buttercream frosting but it ends up being mostly cream cheese. Blech.

                                                      1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                        I enjoyed it, the few episodes I caught. I wish they had shown a little more technique but they probably had enough for the general audience. I can't imagine having to do those challenges under that type of pressure.

                                                        1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                          A bit bummed about the winner. Don't necessarily think the most skilled baker won (based on performance and challenges won throughout the season), but still really enjoyed the show overall and hope it comes back. (Wouldn't shed any tears if they got some different judges though. Paul was ok, but there was something about Marcella I did not enjoy.)

                                                          1. re: Thanks4Food

                                                            I agree. Throughout the series, the eventual winner didn't do a great job, until the end. I believe there are many better amateur bakers out there. Hope the show is renewed and better contestants are chosen. That said, I love the concept and hope it comes back another season. Why don't a bunch of us audition for it?

                                                            1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                                              I saw an email for it and looked at it pretty closely. You have to commit to being away for two months and that's a killer. And, it didn't say what level they were expecting but I thought it would be more like pastry chef level, not basic follow-a-recipe home cook level. My fear was they'd say make a mille feuille and you'd have to do it w/out any guidance or recipe.

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                That seems odd....like Survivor. They certainly could have wrapped up all the filming within a couple of weeks, airing them over a couple of months. It must have cost a bundle to sequester them for 2 months. What were the contestants doing for all that time? I wonder if they were being given lessons in TV presentation, or in baking.

                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                  I don't know the logistics of it all but it could be that you had to commit to the two months, in case you made it through, but were allowed to go home if you lost. But, they'd want that commitment just in case. They could have done back to back days, or maybe they were allowed to go home and then come back but the whole thing took two months? (In a good way), they didn't show the background drama, and where they stayed and their interaction but it seemed some of them did form bonds so maybe they were together the whole time.

                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                    They did have visits from family in one episode, and throughout, various bakers bemoaned being separated from their families so I assume they did not go home at all. Possibly the rejected ones left once they were kicked off.

                                                                2. re: chowser

                                                                  Was your email for the first season or second? I have to admit, I'd love to be on this show but I can't find any casting news for season 2. I wonder if they're continuing the show.

                                                              2. re: Thanks4Food

                                                                I freely admit that I couldn't have--nor would I WANT to spend 5 hours making a stupid croissant.

                                                                Actually real croissants take days to make not hours. About 4 days to be correct.

                                                                1. re: chris2269

                                                                  I'm no expert, but I took a baking course in which we made croissants from scratch in two days. We made the dough the first day, left it in the fridge overnight, and shaped and baked it the second. The course was four hours each day, and taught by the (former?) pastry chef of The River Cafe, so I imagine she knew what she was doing. They certainly tasted great.

                                                                2. No season 2.


                                                                  I'm so bummed. I actually really liked this show. I agree about Paul Hollywood and Marcella; I didn't like them at all. But I was hoping it would just come back with different judges. It was refreshingly wholesome and drama free. And you actually learned a little something about baking. Guess I should have known it was doomed from the start. :-(

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                    Lame! Well the french version starts soon so I will be watching that :D

                                                                    It can be streamed off the website, search m6 meilleur patissiere if you can handle the french. I usually skip to the recipe portions by the chefs. And I'm assuming the UK version can be streamed online as well.

                                                                    1. re: charmedgirl

                                                                      I agree. It was refreshing and real if you could ignore the judges. I did find Paul Hollywood's bread book in my basement, and it isn't very good. He is not a baking expert and I don't think I would visit his bakery(s), based upon reading that book. And he is annoying, besides.