’Tis holiday season in the Great American Baking tent! From cakes and cookies to bread and pastry, 10 new contestants are ready to battle it out with fondant and flour to be crowned Star Baker. The season 2 premiere sees the bakers take on cake, with the second hour all about the cookies. Check out the highlights of the first two episodes below, with some added wisdom from judge Mary Berry — quite the cherry on top, we’re sure you’ll agree.
Week one: Cake Week
For the first Signature Challenge there’s an a-bundt-ance of cake… The contestants have to make a bundt cake with festive flavors.
Michael’s Cherry Bourbon Bundt Cake won warm praise from Mary: “It’s very spectacular. The appearance is so tempting.”
Amanda’s Cardamom and Espresso Swirl Bundt Cake had Mary going in circles: “That’s a swirl and a half, isn’t it?”
She was mostly relieved Ashlyn’s Chestnut Bundt Cake made it out the pan: “No one was more relived than me when I saw it came out.”
For the Technical Challenge, it’s Mary’s Apple Almond Christmas Cake.
Jeremiah’s Apple Almond Cake went against the grain and won top place: “Even though it’s upside down, it is a beautiful apple cake and I went back for a second slice.”
Time for the Showstopper Challenge! The bakers must concoct a holiday celebration multi-tiered cake with decorations that have a holiday theme.
Courtney’s Garam Masala Cake had Mary all mixed up: “Garam masala is something I put in my curry, so just explain yourself.” And later: “That is not a very nice chocolate cake.”
There were words we all long to hear from Mary Berry for Michael’s Winter Holiday Cake: “Your mother would be proud of you; it looks perfect.”
And wobbly praise for Jeremiah’s Winter Forest Cake: “Ah, right. It’s a little bit drunk on one side… but you’re little marzipan balls are sheer perfection.”
Week Two: Cookie Week
For the Signature Bake the tent-dwellers are required to hit the bar. They must make 12 bar cookies that are uniformly cut and feature one homemade element.
Mary has one rule when it comes to cookies: “We don’t want soggy bottoms.”
Antoinette’s Bourbon Pecan Bars had a winning ingredient: “The base is undercooked, but the boozy cream? Bit of alright.”
Prachi’s Fruit and Nut Oat Bars brought us the first innuendo of the night: “You’ve got it quite stiff. How did you do that?”
The Technical Challenge was Biscotti. Those twice-baked cookies are back and they must be crunchy yet chewy.
“I’m in for another bite!”
Next up the Showstopper Challenge: The bakers are tasked with making a three-dimensional iced holiday cookie scene.
Mary’s standards aren’t too high: “A 3-D cookie scene; what could be better? It should be breathtaking when you look at it and it should be magical.”
Mary was a little confused over Amanda’s Christmas Tree and Presents cookie scene: “Whatever is a snickernoodle? Doodle? Did you make up that name?”
But she was quite taken by Michael’s Sleigh and Reindeers: “I love those little chaps there with their antlers.”
She still hadn’t quite grasped the flavor of Amanda’s Christmas Tree and Presents on completion, but was amused nonetheless: “Is that the flavor a snickerdoodle should be? I can’t stop saying it!”
Stephanie’s Holidays in Space was simply out of this world: “No one could be more original could they? Who would ever think of a rocket in space?”
Mary sympathized with Prachi’s Gateway of India in Winter: “I just thought they were a little bit drunk.”
If these cakes and cookies tickled your taste buds, be sure to tune in next Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.