THE GREAT AMERICAN BAKING SHOW: SPICE EPISODE

SPOILER INSIDE!
If you have not watched the show,
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Ten and a half years of blogging, and I hit the most difficult post ever to write. I was eliminated in the show that aired last night, in the worst possible way. Somehow I managed to keep my composure in front of the cameras, but went through buckets of tears after, and for more days than I would like to admit.  The feeling of intense sadness came back again as the premiere approached. It got worse after the first two episodes aired last week because I was overwhelmed with positive feedback from friends and from viewers who don’t even know me personally. With each compliment, with each “I just know you did great”, my heart sank a little bit, but I had to go with the flow. I had to give no indication whatsoever that my world was about to collapse. Literally. I had to smile and be cheerful when in fact I felt (and still feel) like hiding away in a cave. A couple of weeks after we came back from London I made a video in which I try to explain what happened. I did not practice, did not take notes with me, just sat in front of the computer, and spoke. So don’t expect a TED talk… 😉  But I hope you have 10 minutes to spare to watch me. Watch me for a final 10 minutes. Please and thank you.

(same video, two different formats, not sure which one will work best depending on your browser, feel free to share the youtube version)

SIGNATURE BAKE
WOKE UP IN RIO CINNAMON ROLLS

Strangely enough, I did not keep photos of the bakes I did at home for that particular challenge. I made the recipe three times, trying to get the banana flavor to be more and more prominent. I was reasonably happy with the way they turned out, but Paul did not care for the fresh slice of banana as decoration on top.  I had to smile a bit inside, because I actually got that idea from Sherry Yard’s cookbook, Desserts by the Yard…  Go figure. You win some, you lose some. And you butcher some with enough drama to last you a lifetime of regret.

TECHNICAL CHALLENGE
LINZER COOKIES

Believe it or not, I can do a pretty decent looking Linzer-type cookie. These were made back in March, I never blogged about them but will do so in the near future.

My recipe was a little different but the principle is the same.  If you watched my video I think it explains (or tries to) how things degenerated so quickly. Bad decisions, forgetfulness, like not rolling the dough on a floured parchment paper. By the time I realized my mistakes and their dreadful consequences, it was too late to do anything about it. I knew I was in serious, serious trouble. No one can imagine what I was feeling when the technical judgment started. I wanted to be as far away as possible from that tent.  I wanted to be able to say, sorry folks, it turns out I am not tent-worthy, I will show myself out, thank you.

SHOWSTOPPER CHALLENGE
GINGERBREAD SCULPTURE

That’s what I hoped it would look like, with actually a few more components around it, but as we all know, it was not meant to be. I tweaked the recipe for the gingerbread component in the hotel, but could not have the modifications with me in writing, which posed a bit of a problem at showtime. But the worst was the Royal icing “glue”, I did not practice that in the hotel because it was such a small kitchen, but thinking back I should have. The icing sugar from the UK did not behave the same way ours does, at least not in my recipe. Paul told me I should have used caramel to glue the pieces, because it works fast and is absolutely solid. I tried that in my gingerbread coffin that I made for Halloween last month and indeed it works like a charm. I had seen recipes using it while preparing for the show, but was unsure of being able to keep the caramel hot during the whole assembling time. And I was also afraid I would get burned with hot caramel in front of the cameras. I did not get burned literally. But went down in flames in the figurative sense.  If ABC Network wanted drama, they got it.  From now on, when I refer to myself as Drama Queen, I will have a very solid background to justify it.

So that was that, my friends. Every cell of my body wanted to stay in the tent longer. I enjoyed the experience so much, much more than I imagined, even though it was very stressful.  I loved the crew, the support people who never show in front of the cameras but are there full time, bringing you a couple more eggs, taking away that dirty bowl and magically bringing you a spotless clean version to work with. They pay attention to every single detail, if you look around your work bench seeming a bit lost, one of those angels will be right there “do you need anything, Sally?”  Yes, I need a mulligan. Can you get one for me? Pretty please? I will bake you a macaron!

I loved the cameramen, who made us feel like movie stars even when we suspected there was flour on our eyebrows and ganache splashed all over our apron. They are amazing, they work long hours with a heavy camera on their shoulders (trust me, I held one), and a permanent smile coupled with constant words of encouragement. I feel lucky that I got to witness it all. Not for as long as I hoped, but I at least for a little while.

I will never forget the vibe in the tent when I was eliminated, and the hugs that were clearly trying to soothe my soul. I don’t know how I managed not to break down in a puddle of tears, when inside I was badly hurting. I am gone from the tent, but not gone from the adventure. I will be back for the final party, and until then I will share in the blog the bakes I hoped I could have offered to Paul, Sherry, Spice and Baby Spice. The bakes I hoped I could have shared with you on TV.

Keep watching, my baking buddies have awesome stuff waiting for you! And I will be here writing about what comes ahead, from the perspective of a friend cheering for her buddies.

I am so very sorry I disappointed you.

ONE YEAR AGO: Pork Tenderloin Roulade with Pumpkin and Pecans

TWO YEARS AGO: White-Chocolate Peppermint Macarons

THREE YEARS AGO: Shrubs, a fun alternative to alcoholic drinks

FOUR YEARS AGO: Date Truffles 

FIVE YEARS AGO: Mascarpone Mousse from Baking Chez Moi

SIX YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Brigadeiros

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Espresso Loaf

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Caramelized Carrot Soup

NINE YEARS AGO: Miso-Grilled Shrimp

TEN YEARS AGO: A Special Holiday Fruitcake

 

62 thoughts on “THE GREAT AMERICAN BAKING SHOW: SPICE EPISODE

  1. Oh wow! You are really hard on yourself! I know that is what a professional baker and competitor is like. The perfectionist in you is what got you where you are today. I honestly haven’t seen the shows yet. I can’t imagine the stress. Although you may not have survived that particular competition I am so glad you survived all the tremendous stress you were under! Here I was aggravated over the thanksgiving holidays when my favorite most requested honey pecan pie just wouldn’t come out of the 9″ deep dish pie plate. I have never had that happen before. Here I am the family dessert lady for several family branches and you couldn’t even get a slice out in one piece! Sorta embarrassing but since I am the only one putting the extra effort in sometimes on show piece type desserts I just had to laugh. I now know what pecan pie cobbler looks like! We are country folks. It was still nice a tasty. LOL
    Thank you for all the effort you put in for us bakers that are learning and experimenting trying to learn from your recipes. Right now I am establishing some of my own basic recipes. I didn’t have any handed down from my mom since she wasn’t that kind of cook. I so enjoy all my internet mom’s recipes ! I usually only try the recipes from professionals like yourself. You always have better flavor and I don’t waste my time, energy and ingredients on failed recipes from your website.
    Your much appreciated !
    Love Ranchmama

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Darling Sally, The only person who’s disappointed in your performance is you. I know how talented and driven you are and I figured you could pull it off. My apologies if my positive comments caused you any pain. You’re still a rock star, my dear. The tent, stress, the judges, and so many more things conspired against you. Anxiety and losing your confidence can be major difficulties under your special circumstances. I knew that brave smile was hiding tears because I’ve known you for a long time. You’re a good, decent, emotional person, and MY Star Baker! Lessons learned and you’ll go on from there. You’re very special Always! xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dearest Sally

    You did not disappoint us! quite the opposite actually, you inspired us! you have always been a source of inspiration for me! and this very situation was no different!
    I would never apply to a show like that, I fear judgement and always struggle with the thought that I won’t be good enough! yet at the end of the day, I always beat myself up on all the opportunities that I have missed because I was too scared to even try!
    You applied, you got selected, you took part and faced the challenge! That is something you should be super proud of! I know I am beyond proud of you for it!
    You made a mistake, so what? life is about making mistakes and learning from them! About facing the challenge, falling down and getting up again!
    Please don’t be so hard on yourself. We were NOT disappointed! We do NOT think any less of you for what happened, actually, we think higher of you for going through this!

    You are so much more than a single mistake. You are a kind soul that makes the world a better place by just being part of it. You are a brilliant baker that have inspired (and I know will continue to inspire )many people. Myself included

    Sending you a huge hug my friend
    And I mean it when I say, I am proud of you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • you have no idea how happy I am that you stopped by! It’s been so long since I heard from you, but I always think about you and your absolutely fantastic work in the kitchen – YOU are the one who have always inspired me! thank you for your super kind words, they mean the world to me!

      Like

  4. Sally, most of us get to hide our broken Bundt cakes under a cloud of whipped cream, get to, as your friend noted in the comment above, call it Pecan Pie Cobbler when it won’t come out of the pan without a chisel, and there’s no TV camera and national audience to witness our wobble. You ARE, and ALWAYS WILL BE, a star in our eyes, and we think nothing less of you after that episode than we did before it. In fact, the legion of us who do not have 1/100th of your courage would never even apply to be on the show. And as I tell everyone I know who dreams of entering a contest…if you don’t enter, you can’t win. You entered, you EARNED YOUR WAY INTO THE TENT, you competed! You’re a winner, in all the ways that count to us. LOVE YOU!

    Like

  5. Sally: I can appreciate the difficult you express so well in your video, but know your friends are supportive and caring for your feeling. You did not disappoint anyone and you should be so proud of yourself. As you say in your video, there are many good things to be found in your experience, and as time passes, those are the memories that will endure. Ned

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh for heaven’s sakes Sally!!! Virtual hugs from me. You didn’t disappoint anybody but yourself, and hopefully you’ll quickly forgive yourself. Mistakes happen, and the fact that you were able to survive baking on camera with all that goes with it is what’s mostly incredible to me! I am sorry for you because I do understand that you weren’t able to do what you’re best at, but what an experience. Quit beating yourself up! You know you’re an exceptional baker, and as an extremely intelligent individual I know you’re also aware that there is always more to learn. So keep on baking!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sally, You are the most amazing baker and woman! You are an inspiration to everyone that crosses paths with you and I’m so glad ours did. I will always treasure our time together in the tent and the hugs, conversations, and all that we learned and experienced. This is so hard and I know the feelings you are going through firsthand. It will pass but that doesn’t make it better right now. Take your time and just remember how much you are loved and adored! I mean, my kids like you better than they like me!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nothing can take the joy of the experience in the bigger picture – the what iffs keep coming to my mind, but what’s the point? There is one reality and we either learn from it and embrace it, or we’ll be beating ourselves up forever. I don’t want to do that….

      It was super special for me to meet a #brigadeirobabe on the very first bake.. I mean, what are the odds of that???? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I agree with all the above comments of your friends and admirers and think very similarly. I too was in one episode of an Italian TV programme where couples invite one another to dinner. The stress was incredible as you said. Yet, what I had to do compared with you was nothing!!! You have been incredibly brave and should pat yourself on your shoulder for even trying. And crying and being disappointed is totally normal, you are a human being, not a robot! That said – and nothing whatsoever to do with you – I really am becomng less and less tolerant of TV food shows where it’s all about competition. I also think it gives the wrong impression to many new-comers who would like to start cooking and/or baking, It is good to want to do well and do better and, why not?, compete with ‘oneself’. But cooking should not be thought of as an army drill and put people in flight-or-fight mode. There is enough of all that in the world already. What we need to come up with is an idea of a TV show where the competition is missing? Ha ha. Well done. Brava. All the very very best for the coming new year and new decade!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is an interesting concept I guess. I am not at all interested in the competitive shows of FoodTV – in which there is an underlying aura of self-promotion and “I will beat everybody, I am here to win” – I think the Great British and Great American, and those that spin off from it have a different take, at least that’s the way most see them. You are trying to perform do make a recipe you carefully designed to impress judges – but the timing and the overall stress of the situation will get to you at points. It gets to everybody – the goal is to negotiate the stress and see how far it takes you – but the idea of “beating” your opponent is never there. Simply no chance to focus on that.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh my Sally, we are very disappointed for you but we are absolutely not disappointed in you. Just the fact that you made it onto the show at all is such a huge accomplishment. We are all so very proud of you and you just hold your head up high. You are one classy lady and I’m happy to say we are blogging friends.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts. That had to be almost as hard as leaving. You are in no way a disappointment! You are a huge inspiration!! Can’t wait to keep reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I knew episode 3 was the toughest for me by far. Well, there was another one in a later time that had me a bit worried – I will get to that in a later post. But nothing scared me like Spice and I was not on top of my game at all…

      Like

  10. I’m so sorry that you were eliminated. I missed watching the show but had planned on doing so this weekend. Now I’m not sure I actually will as I only watched it because you were on. There are lots of cooking shows and my time is limited so it takes a lot of motivation to watch a particular one. I look forward to more of your amazing posts here even if not in the tent. All the best, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Not spoiled at all. I watched the first 2 eps ‘live’ before reading your post and then knew what I was getting when I read your post before downloading the cookie and spice ep. (No commercials.) Just disappointed for you that you weren’t able to continue.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. **applause** Sally, I think you are awesome–even more so now! I can only imagine your disappointment in not getting to go forward, but I hope you can see that to people like me, you are an inspiration, and most definitely not a disappointment. Your skill and enthusiasm inspire me, and after watching last night’s episode, your grace inspires me. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m not sure if this is the best place to post this. I may post in multiple locations.

    Shortly after I learned that you’d be on the show, it occurred to me that, in all likelihood, there would be an episode where you were eliminated: it was a simple statistical consideration. I also thought about how you knew that it was coming – and how you must have been dreading the airing of that episode. Those thoughts only increased my respect for you, for your bravery, and for the vulnerability you displayed for all the world to see. Am I disappointed *for* you that it happened so soon? Yes, of course. Disappointed in you? Not at all! Why would I be?

    I don’t have 10% of the baking skills, determination, or discipline that you have (you hold down a “real” job – one that I’m confident isn’t restricted to 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, keep fit, take care of your home including “those animals,” and manage to cook, bake, and blog with an intensity and creativity that is truly impressive).

    In a comment on another blog post, you described imposter syndrome and I commented that winning the first technical bake objectively demonstrated your “tent-worthiness.” Nothing about that statement has changed. Furthermore, reading about the application and audition process confirms that you outshone many, many other would-be participants. Keep your head up and be proud of your truly impressive accomplishments! And keep on bakin’ on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • you covered pretty much all that took place, I mean in terms of my anxiety about the episode airing and how to handle the fact that people were so sure I would surf through longer, but…. it was not to be.

      I am still feeling that maybe I was not tent-worthy – after all, if I let my mind get so out of touch with the baking…. what’s the point? But maybe it was just that episode that had me so scared, it was like a storm forming in the horizon, I was terrified of it, and hoping that somehow I could survive it. I knew there would be some sunshine and blue skies after it… (sigh)

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh Sally! You are so brave to even have competed! You have nothing to be ashamed of! Of course we were all rooting for you, and we were disappointed for you, but not at all IN you! Besides, things like bread sculptures and gingerbread houses do not hold a candle to the amazing cakes, artisan sourdough loaves, and macarons you bake! I’m so proud to know you and be your friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thank you so much, Karen…. I know I will feel better as the days go by after yesterday’s airing. I already feel a lot lighter… the anticipation of the show was hard to deal with

      Like

  14. I can’t imagine ever being disappointed in you or by you. I was sad to see your gingerbread house crumple, but the fact that you kept your grace and poise in the face of such devastating disappointment inspired everyone. Who hasn’t faced crushing disappointment? The rest of us are just lucky that only a handful of people witnessed ours. But you were given an opportunity to rise above it and inspire young (and not-so-young) bakers everywhere on how to handle it, and you rose to the occasion. Your video is the cherry on top, and was a hug to all of us, and now we all just want to hug you too. You are a brilliant baker, or you wouldn’t be there in the first place. And we couldn’t be prouder to know you, if only virtually through FB and our blogs. A woman I met once, many years ago, had a book on the New York Times best seller list. She was over the moon, as you can imagine. She relayed to me that shortly after her book landed on the list, she told a friend, and her friend’s response was “what number?”, meaning where on the list was her book. She was hurt, as if she still hadn’t achieved enough. But later, she realized what she should have said. It didn’t matter what number. Whether she was #1 or #8 or #38, omg, really? What an incredibly honor to be anywhere on that revered list. So don’t forget to hug yourself with the realization that you made it to the tent, became an even better baker, and met some amazing people you shared this remarkable experience with. And major bonus points for having the courage to audition (twice!) and then do it at all. Most of us don’t have that courage. And along the way, you made some new friends, some that might be lifelong. Because in the end it’s all about the connections we form with people. OK, enough philosophy. I’m proud to ‘know’ you, my friend. Now go bake something delicious for us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • it is so true! I am shocked that a friend would ask her “which number?” so insensitive, and so pointless and ignorant even.

      No, I am thrilled that I made it to the tent, and I realize it is a huge accomplishment – I just wanted to leave in a less horrific way, but… hey, I am the Drama Queen. WHen I go down, I do it with all the bells and whistles… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies – I do wish you weren’t so hard on yourself – human nature I guess! We learn from all our experiences and difficulties serve to mould us into more compassionate beings. I know you were disappointed that you didn’t have a chance to really show the judges what wonders you’re capable of, except for that yuzu-ginger olive oil cake that was spectacular but hardly raised a judgy eyebrow.

    I’m curious about a few things though, one of which you’ve already addressed – that there is a crew of people on set who clean up and I’ll bet we all wish we had a crew like that at hand in our kitchens:) I was also wondering if you get a chance to taste the other “bakes”. Also, how long do you have to wait between segments of the show? Is there any place to rest and hang out? Eat lunch? Down a coffee or tea? Was your husband able to accompany you to England (and hold you tight after your huge disappointment and self-only-perceived humiliation)? Were you able to become a tourist in the days between your elimination and the final show?

    Finally, thanks so much for putting yourself out there. You are fearless and that’s why I’ve followed your blog all these years.

    Virtual hugs to you and all the best for a wonderful Christmas and a healthy New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I will address some of these points in another blog post – because I think the subject might be interesting to readers really… but Phil was with me in the first few days then left, so I went through some private hell on my own, with the other bakers and with some friends from the UK who were absolute angels. It is amazing how much support you can get when you really need it. I feel lucky. Filming is usually two days in a row. You do signature in the morning, technical in the afternoon. Next day showstopper. No matter what you film, you are there for 12 to 14 hours of the day.

      Like

  16. You’re the best anyway no matter what so you are a winner and a wonderful person. Big hugs xox. I was asked to go on a show similar a long time ago. I didn’t go because I know I’d be crying half the time. I wasn’t just baking though. I’m a sook lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh sally! No disappointment! We know what you can do! I can’t imagine what it must be like under some of those time constraints, they’re crazy. Also, baking in that tent seems cold and drafty! Remember all the challenges Marilyn has had with gbh? And she makes them every year.

    You were great! Don’t let anyone, least if all you, tell you otherwise! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sally, so sorry you were eliminated- I still think you were fantastic- and i admire you tremendously for all the baking and situations you share with us via your blog. Bake on girl. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  19. All I can say is that in real life you are so much better than this show could ever portray, even If you were the winner. You cook better, sound better and look better…. Real life is the ultimate stage to shine on.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. You are still and always will be a ROCK STAR BAKER, Sally. I know you are sad but know that your fans still love you and admire your talents. Goodness know, us bakers have all had one of “those” days.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I really enjoy your blog and recipes and felt like I was connected to a contestant on the show! I am so sorry about your loss, but what an amazing experience! Keep up the good work – you have a lot of followers who really enjoy your recipes (sweet and savory)!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Boxing Day lunchtime in Australia . . . Have been back from hospital just a day or two and am still in bed afraid that the next wind change may loose me my home . . . am amidst the worst bushfires just outside Sydney with no rain in sight. Am only mentioning this as I have just caught up with this post and nothing was going to stop me from sending you all my love, all my understanding and a lot of scolding . . . have you any idea of how proud each and every one of us who reads your posts, loves when they arrive and learns so much from you, is lady ? You reached a position and situation only a minuscule number of people, however talented, do and tho’ naturally hoped to be in that tent awhile longer, achieved something so, so few are able ! Thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk to us, even those of us so far across the land and sea as I am. One wonderful thing came out of my sharing some of my Christmas with you just now . . . I somehow feel I know you so much better . . . know how you speak and how your body languages works, and . . . .thank you for that Yule present . . . and we’ll talk the next time around . . . and I just loved that Sawsan was also able to come and tell you her thoughts . . . oh some of us do go a long way back, don;t we . . . all my love . . . Eha

    Liked by 1 person

    • WOrdpress only has a stupid LIKE button, and I need the LOVE one. I need the ADORE button… I cannot imagine you sitting down to write me with all that is happening around you…

      PLEASE keep me posted, I am sending you all possible positive vibes for winds to change, rain to come, ANYTHING to prevent you from losing your home… I cannot stand the thought

      I am saving your comment #4ever

      Liked by 1 person

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