Cupcake Wars: Cupcake Champions 2012 came to a dramatic close on June 10 as the four winning bakers went head to head for the title of ultimate show champion. Wondering how it all went down and which talented baker was declared the biggest winner of all? Read on for a full recap.
Competing in the finale were the champs of weeks one through four, including Kevin VanDeraa of the Minneapolis-based Cupcake, winner of the Glee episode; Brave episode winner Jane Marie Kane of Rockville, MD's Cupcake Dreams; Kyra Bussanich of Crave Bake Shop in Oregon, who won the Madagascar bake-off; and Suite 106 Cupcakery's Rebecca Ybarra, who took week one's Spiderman show-down.
Host Justin Willman greeted the four hopefuls and went over the prizes awaiting the winner. In addition to $50,000 and the title of champion, the top baker would also receive a trip to the Food Network's New York headquarters to celebrate the launch of a new app.
Justin turned attention to the inspiration table, where the hopefuls found groups of foods representing Food Network Star mentors Bobby Flay, Alton Brown, and Giada DeLaurentiis. Each contestant was told to choose a star, and to incorporate two of the star's ingredients into a cupcake created to represent said star's personality and style. Kyra opted to go with Giada, confident that basil and mascarpone could make a "really good cupcake." Jane appreciated Bobby's "bold" flavors, which included blue corn and cilantro. Rebecca also found inspiration on Bobby's table, as piquillo peppers and cilantro caught her eye. Finally, Kevin went with the "scientific" Alton Brown, opting to create a cupcake using grape juice and bourbon.
Food Network Star judges Bob Tuschman and Susie Fogelson joined usual panelists Candace Nelson and Florian Bellanger to evaluate the contestants' delectable creations. Kyra's lemon basil cupcake drew high praise from Candace, who called her a gluten-free baking "goddess," and Bob called the cupcake "Giada in paradise." Rebecca's vanilla cupcake earned a "great flavor" nod from Candace, but Susie thought it was overcomplicated. Jane's blue corn and salsa cake was lacking in "kick," according to Candace and Florian, but Susie thought it represented Bobby's personality "beautifully." Finally, Florian thought Kevin's cake was "messy," but Candace found flavors to be "divine."
Following deliberations, Rebecca was booted thanks to a flavor-deficient cake.
The three remaining contestants moved on to the second round, which challenged them to tell their own unique stories with three different cupcakes. With the clock set, they got to work. While Kevin banked on winning with his "proven" carrot cake recipe, Kyra planned to go big with fillings and decorations. Jane pressed her baking assistant—her mom—to hurry with their batters, and was devastated when the duo failed to completely decorate their cupcakes as the clock ran out of time.
But the judging had to go on. Kyra presented first. Candace remarked on her "unusual" flavor combinations, and Florian enjoyed her decorations. He called her chocolate cupcake "seriously addictive." Susie thought the cakes were delicious but lamented that she didn't know much about Kyra. Jane followed with her trio. Florian noted a "technical issue" with her chocolate cupcake, which seemed "totally unsweetened," but Candace and Susie liked her strawberry margarita cake. Kevin was last up to present. Candace called all of his cupcakes "so delicious," and Bob liked how he'd put together "Kevin the mini-series in three cupcakes."
Thanks to a sugar faux pas, Jane was eliminated from the competition, leaving Kyra and Kevin to go for the big win. But it wasn't going to be easy for the pair: Justin revealed that they'd need to scrap their original decorations and start fresh, with the goal of representing the "iconic personalities" of Food Network stars in their 1,000 cupcake displays. Each baker was given a master carpenter and four baking assistants, and they got to work with two hours on the clock.
Kevin and Kyra got creative with their decorations, with Kevin spiking his carrot cake with Guy Fieri-inspired frosting and Kyra creating a spicy sugar topping for one of her cakes. Improvement was also the name of the game, as Kyra replaced her overwhelming lime filling with a pomegranate mousse in one of her cakes, and Kevin using the proper amount of flour in his round one offering.
The bakers presented their displays to the panelists and headed to a waiting room while they deliberated. Candace appreciated Kyra's plexi-glass stars, and Florian thought she'd done a good job with her decorations. Candace called the dry erase board on Kevin's Alton cupcake clever, and Bob appreciated the inclusion of network star photos in his display. But who took the cake?
Kyra and Kevin joined Justin and the judges for the big reveal. After a dramatic pause, Kevin VanDeraa was declared the winner of Cupcake Wars: Cupcake Champions 2012, leaving Kyra "bitterly disappointed." Bringing the show to a final close, Kevin called his victory "a highlight of life."