Provo’s “The Mighty Baker,” Pete Tidwell, competed against seven other bakers on Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship,” making it to the finale show, which aired on Monday.
During the six-episode show, a different baker was eliminated each week. Tidwell, who has always loved Halloween, said the experience will help inspire him to bake spooky treats in the future.
Each of the six episodes included two different challenges for the bakers, referred to as the “preheat” and the “main heat.” Nobody got eliminated during the preheat, but the winner of that first challenge was able to move on to the main heat with some sort of advantage, such as first choice of ingredients.
Each challenge brought something different for the contestants, according to Tidwell. Sometimes, there was a theme, like during Episode 4’s “Creepy Crepe Cakes.” Sometimes the bakers were given specific ingredients that they had to use. The most unusual ingredient that Tidwell incorporated into a recipe was jackfruit.
“That’s a fruit that many of us had not necessarily baked with,” he said. He and his team used it to create a honey jackfruit tart.
Tidwell said his favorite creation during the championship was a German chocolate cake, which garnered him a win for that particular challenge. The chocolate Italian buttercream filling was his grandmother’s recipe.
“She was a baker for many, many years,” he said. “She has always been an inspiration to me.”
During Monday’s finale show, host John Henson instructed the three remaining bakers to construct a “Ghostembouche,” a ghostly version of a croquembouche tower. A croquembouche tower is a French dessert consisting of a tower of pastry puffs.
“We decorated them Halloween-style,” Tidwell said.
His creation, which took about two-and-a-half hours to complete, included cream puffs filled with chocolate hazelnut filling, drizzled with salted caramel and adorned with spider webs and ghosts made from pâte à choux. Tidwell won this challenge.
Because he won the preheat challenge, he had the advantage of choosing which body part he would incorporate into his final creation during the main heat. The final challenge was to create a bleeding zombie cake and he chose to incorporate a brain.
“We walked in the kitchen and there were people dressed up as zombies,” Tidwell said.
After the five hours of creating their zombie cakes, the bakers had to make their cakes bleed in front of the judges. Tidwell baked a lemon blueberry poppy seed cake with lemon raspberry buttercream frosting with white chocolate ganache. His “blood” was seedless raspberry jam.
In the end, baker Karl Fong from Hercules, California, was chosen as the overall winner.
“It was sad not to win, but I made it far,” Tidwell said. “Karl deserved to win. He is an amazing baker.
“Overall, it was a life-changing experience. It was so much fun,” Tidwell said. “These experiences always push me a little and I challenge myself.”
Tidwell, who has won Food Network’s “Cake Wars” twice, in 2016 and 2017, said he would love to compete in another baking challenge.
“When I’m in the kitchen, that’s my sweet spot,” he said.
Upcoming plans for The Mighty Baker include the opening of his new shop called, “The Mighty Baker Cake Creation Studio,” which is set to open in mid-November at The Shops at Riverwoods in Provo.
The new studio will be different from a traditional bakery, as it will be a do-it-yourself cake and cupcake studio. Customers will be able to choose either a 6-inch cake of various flavors or six cupcakes to decorate with buttercream frosting or fondant and sprinkles. Step-by-step tutorials will be available. Additionally, baking and decorating classes will be offered at the studio.