Here at Less Than Reality, we love cakes. And we love the movie Kung Fu Panda. So when we learned that the two would be coming together on the Food Network show, we had to tune in.
The challenge was to make a cake inspired by the upcoming movie Kung Fu Panda 3.
First up was a flavor challenge. The bakers had to use one of the ingredients from an Chinese inspired list in their cake: ginger, sesame oil, five-spice, rice vinegar or soy sauce, plum sauce, chili sauce or garlic. Interesting! The design had to reflect the designer if he or she were in Kung Fu Panda.
First up was Samantha Kestin, who brought her husband Adam Kestin to help her. The New Jersey native envisioned a cake featuring a momma panda with her kids. She decided on a dark chocolate, soy sesame cake, topped with cold noodle inspired butter creme. You can check out her amazing cakes here, if you're interested. She aimed to cover her whole cakeboard with decorations.
Next up was Liz Huber from Florida. She brought her sister as her assistant. She made a chocolate chili cake with ginger buttercreme. Her design is a panda holding weights. She was concerned about her cake looking lumpy due to heavy fondant.
Darla Swain from California was third. She's from a family of bakers. Her daughter in law joined her as a designer. Her design was a dancing panda. They made an apple five spice cake with ginger buttercreme. Darla worried throughout the challenge because it didn't appear as if her cakes were baking fast enough.
Antoine Lee from Maryland was last. He got his love for design from working in an ice cream shop. He brought an assistant named Abigail. Their cake would look like a panda playing basketball. He chose a tosted sesame oil almond cake with a pineapple filling. Antoine struggles with his panda decorations staying intact.
We met the judges, Waylynn Lucas, Ron Ben-Israel, plus the guest judges, co-directors of Kung Fu Panda 3, Jen Nelson and Alessandro Carloni.
Ron Ben-Israel loved the presentation of Samantha's cake. He said he thought the taste would fall flat but he was proven wrong. Jen loved that Samantha captured the fun of the movie.
Antoine was told that he played it safe and he didn't take enough risk with the flavor. Jen said it was too bad that Antoine didn't have time to finish his design.
Darla was told that she created a good spice combination. The apple and spices mixed well.
Liz was told that more time should have been spent on the facial features of the panda but the flavors were good.
Unfortunately, someone had to go, and that was Antoine.
Next up was the final round. The contestants had to create a cake depicting an epic kung fu battle featuring characters from Kung Fu Panda. Each contestant was given two assistants and four hours to build their panda cake.
Samantha imagined a big pagoda cake with lots of characters. She decided on a vanilla almond cake with an orange vanilla almond glaze and a whole bunch of other stuff. Unfortunately, one of her cakes fell, but she had to keep going.
Darla designed a cake featuring the characters on a mountain. She decided on a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. The cake had coffee in it to kick it up a notch. She required at minimum eight sheet cakes. As Darla cooked, it was noted that her rock structure didn't look as amazing as her pagoda did.
Liz also thought about a pagoda cake with Po saving the day on top. She chose an almond cake with ginger butter creme and plum sauce.
It was noted by the judges that all of the contestants seemed to be building similar structures.
Liz presented first, and she said she imagined Kai coming in to split the pagoda and Po keeping it together. She was complimented on the flavor and fun elements of her cake, but told that the bottom of the cake was dark and dreary. She was also told her cake was mushy and the proportions were off.
Darla's story was Po training the other pandas to be warriors. She was told her cake tasted great and had great gold design elements, but her characters didn't interact and allow the cake to tell a story.
Samantha's cake portrayed the story after the fight ended. She was given compliments on the taste balance of the cake, but it was overmixed. She was also told that her cake suffered from lack of details. She was also told that the cake was a little too real.
Finally, we had the results. Darla was eliminated first, with Liz being announced as the winner. That put Samantha in second place.
Congratulations to all of the contestants - you're all awesome for getting on the show in the first place!
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