Cupcake Wars: Cupcake Champions 2012 continued June 3 with a final preliminary round, setting the stage for the finale's $50,000 grand bake-off and championship. Which baker won the last spot in the finale and had their cupcake display featured at a VIP party for Brave? Read on for a full recap.
The bakers returning for a shot at the last available spot in the finale included Annette Starbuck of Goodie Girls Cupcakes, Jane Marie Kane from Cake Dreams, Megan Faulkner Brown of The Sweet Tooth Fairy, and Paul Conti from Casereccio Cakes.
A kilt-wearing Justin Willman greeted the hopefuls. He revealed that the winner of the evening's competition would have his or her cupcake display featured at a Pixar Studios party celebrating the new release Brave. He turned attention to the inspiration table, which featured a host of Scottish favorites.
But, of course, there was a twist: The contestants were required to "choose" their ingredient by hitting it on a bullseye with a bow and arrow. As a non-drinker, Annette was upset to wind up with whiskey, but Jane was pleased when her arrow landed in the same spot. Paul shot a bullseye and scored oats, while Megan wound up with perhaps the most challenging ingredient of all: mutton.
Up first to present to judges Candace Nelson and Florian Bellanger and guest judge Tia Kratter was Jane. Candace thought she "hit just the right note" with her cupcake, but Florian didn't care for the pecans on top. Paul presented his cupcake next and drew poor reviews from Florian and Candace, who thought he'd missed the mark with an overly simplistic cake. Megan's mutton cake earned praise from Florian, but Candace didn't like how she used pear juice to sweeten up her otherwise savory mutton offering. Finally, Annette showed off her whiskey cake, which Candace called "on the mark," but Florian didn't like.
After deliberations, Paul was first to be booted.
Justin told the three contestants remaining to create three "bold" Brave-inspired cupcakes for round two. It was a rough go for some of the hopefuls, and the troubles showed when some presented. Jane went first with her trio. Candace called her fondant decorations "dazzling" and said she wanted to "take an extra bite," and Florian loved her tiramisu offering, while Tia called them all "delicious." Florian called Megan's unfinished cupcakes "overall very tasty" but noted her troubles with the clock, and Candace wasn't impressed. Annette drew praise from Candace for her "very pretty plate," but Florian thought it was too "Valentine's Day."
Megan was eliminated, thanks to her unfinished cakes, leaving Jane and Annette to battle it out for the win. Justin instructed them each to create a Brave-worthy castle for their 1,000 cake displays, and they were off to work with two hours on the clock.
When time expired, the two women presented rather similar turret-centric displays for the panelists' consideration. Tia was impressed by the color and height of Jane's display but was concerned that the logo was a bit too hidden. Candace appreciated the "story" and "mood" of Annette's showpiece, but Florian knocked her strawberry cupcake for being too pink for the movie's heroine. But only one contestant could win, and the victory went to Jane Marie Kane.
Cupcake Wars: Cupcake Champions 2012 concludes next week with the final $50,000 battle. Which hopeful will come out on top? Tune in to the Food Network and find out.