12 Biggest Mishaps From Spring Baking Championship, Ranked

Each spring, Food Network's "Spring Baking Championship" offers some of the most creative baking creations you'll see all year, with a strict time limit thrown in to raise the difficulty and really maximize the drama. Even though the show's format is one of the more difficult and dramatic Food Network competitions, the level of competition pushes the best chefs to create some truly beautiful and delicious goods.

However, not every creation on "Spring Baking Championship" is a winner. The show's quickfire format also means that some challenges get the better of even seasoned bakers. When that happens, the results can get pretty ... interesting, to say the least.

Whether it was a messy presentation, a bad use of flavors, or an inclusion of a foreign ingredient, these dishes just didn't come together the way the chefs were hoping and ended up being memorable for all the wrong reasons. We're taking a look at 12 of the biggest mishaps from "Spring Baking Championship" and why these epic fails were closer to what you might expect on "Worst Cooks in America". 

12. Stephanie DeVoll includes a plastic egg mold

First rule of any Food Network competition show: never include anything inedible on the plate. Depending on the judge, you can get some pretty brutal criticism, and it might even send you home.

Stephanie DeVoll made that critical mistake in the preliminary heat of Episode 3 in Season 7 of "Spring Baking Championship". Bakers needed to make egg desserts that featured a mystery flavor, and DeVoll got peanut butter. With this in mind, she cut out puff pastries with an egg mold and planned to serve peanut butter and jelly egg sandwiches. 

Combining peanut butter and jelly is always a good idea — assuming that you leave out the egg mold. Unfortunately, DeVoll accidentally included the mold on one of her pastries, which happened to end up in front of Duff Goldman. Goldman didn't need to say much, simply giving a disapproving, "Oh, chef..." and holding up the mold to an embarrassed DeVoll, who clapped her hands to her mouth in horror.

Goldman decided that DeVoll felt bad enough about her error and didn't add any criticism. Even more fortunately for her, this was only the preliminary event, giving her a chance to redeem herself. In the main challenge of the episode, DeVoll laughed off her earlier mistake and promised the judges there was no plastic in her food. Once he'd tasted it, Goldman proclaimed, "Redemption is yours! Zero plastic!" and allowed her to survive the episode.

11. Cilantro and salsa don't make a cake

Making an ombre cake can be challenging for anyone. Making a naked ombre cake is even harder, and doing it when you have to incorporate a specific herb can seem nearly impossible. Michelle Kaiser knew she was up against it when she was the last one to grab an herb and got assigned a red naked ombre cake with cilantro.  

Her creation missed the mark by miles. She might have had cilantro assigned (the show said coriander, but used the British definition), but nothing said she had to go savory for her cake. But that's what she did, making a salsa and adding it to her batter. She then doubled down on the polarizing herb by including toasted coriander seeds in the salsa.

The result was a mess of a sponge cake that even Kaiser described as "sad". After explaining what she'd done, Duff Goldman brought his hands to his mouth, and Kaiser said that he was scaring her. Goldman shot back, "Not as much as you're scaring me."

Goldman's fears were confirmed, as the cake proved savory and completely firm. Goldman admitted he tasted the coriander (never good, given how many people hate cilantro) and said going spicy might have worked better. He then finished by saying he was asked what's the craziest thing he'd ever eaten on the show, and proclaimed Kaiser the new sheriff in town. Kaiser's mock celebration showed even she knew she'd be going home that episode.

10. Shortening-based frosting means a short stay

Duff Goldman doesn't have many rules for cake decorating, but one of them is apparently to never use a shortening base for your frosting on a baking championship. Home bakers might sometimes use shortening because shortening won't melt as easily as butter. That means it won't lose its shape very easily, which can help make something look perfect. But professional bakers are supposed to be experts at decorating cakes. If you're competing on a baking show, you should know that butter and shortening work differently, and you shouldn't rely on shortening as a crutch.

Will Poole went this route in a rainbow baking challenge, where bakers had to use all the colors of the rainbow in their dish. While his cupcake certainly looked pretty, his shortening-based frosting left an unpleasant taste in the judges' mouths. Because shortening and butter work differently, Poole's frosting didn't have as much flavor as his competitors, and the judges called him on it.

Goldman put it bluntly: "Why would you make a shortening frosting on a spring baking championship?" Poole responded that he wanted the bright white color of the shortening to carry the other colors of the rainbow. Goldman wasn't having it, telling Poole that he could have used whipped cream and that he would have much rather eaten whipped cream than shortening. 

In the judges' deliberations, Goldman and Nancy Fuller agreed that a shortening-based frosting didn't belong on this show. Poole was sent home.

9. Keem Jackson seeds his raspberry basket

When making a raspberry sauce, coulis, glaze or ganache, it's always important to remove the raspberry seeds. The seeds aren't necessary and aren't particularly pleasant to bite into. Unless you're eating whole raspberries, there's no reason to have the seeds involved.

Keem Jackson sold the judges a great story about his love for raspberry lemonade during the spring, but his failure to remove the seeds from his raspberry ganache ruined his dish. All three judges found plenty of seeds in between the layers of cake, which made Duff Goldman's line about Jackson using "$183 worth of raspberries" hit a lot harder than it would have.

Seeds weren't the only issue. Jackson had also left some seams in his chocolate fondant basket, which detracted from the look of the cake. Those two mistakes overwhelmed the cake itself, which was a shame because Jackson's cake turned out well. Kardea Brown and Nancy Fuller both commented that they enjoyed the cake, but Fuller pointed out that she was getting a lot of chocolate and not enough cake.

But nothing was saving Jackson once he left the seeds in the ganache. As he walked off, Goldman shouted to the cameras, "Seeds!", with Brown agreeing that she couldn't stand them. That was the end of the line for Jackson.

8. Kristine de la Cruz makes citrus desserts with no citrus flavor

When a challenge focuses on a specific flavor, it's a good idea to make sure that your creation actually includes that flavor. For this challenge, bakers needed to create one lemon dessert and one lime dessert. Kristine de la Cruz seemed to have a pair of good ideas, making a meringue roll with lemon custard and a lime fritter with a basil-lemon whipped cream.

But as anyone who's made a lemon dessert or lime dessert that's served cool knows, it needs powerful flavor when it's done cooking. Otherwise, the flavor will dissipate as it cools, leaving a lack of citrus flavor in your finished product. And that was de la Cruz's mistake: her lemon and lime flavors weren't strong enough.

As Duff Goldman and Lorraine Pascal tasted the lemon custard, they exchanged shocked glances at the lack of lemon flavor in the dish. Goldman offered his typical bluntness: "How is it possible that I am staring at four ounces of lemon custard, and I cannot taste lemon?" Pascal then followed up: "Duff and I tasted, looked at each other and conversed with our eyes at the miracle of this lemon custard with no lemon flavor whatsoever."

It got worse: the lime fritter also had no lime flavor. Nancy Fuller summed it up: "They're both delicious, but they just don't have any lemon or lime." Given that it was a lemon and lime challenge, the writing was on the wall.

7. Samirah Williams makes dense, oily doughnuts

Even though the modern doughnut is related to the Dutch olykoek (literally oily cake), oily doughnuts really aren't an appetizing thought. Neither are dense doughnuts; doughnuts are supposed to be light, airy, and flavorful. 

Samirah Williams' doughnuts were anything but. Cake doughnuts aren't going to be as airy as yeast doughnuts, of course, but there's a reason that 14% of Mashed readers named cake doughnuts as their favorites. It was not because of a dry texture and overwhelming chocolate flavor, both of which were present in Williams' doughnuts. Nancy Fuller wasn't pleased with the dry, dense doughnut, and Duff Goldman said the chocolate flavor was so pronounced that it made the flavor almost sour.

They hadn't even hit the biggest criticism yet: the doughnut holes. Williams had sold the doughnut holes as representing toasted marshmallows at a mountain resort (each doughnut was supposed to resemble a different part of a mountain vacation), but the doughnut holes came out looking like unrecognizable blobs. Even worse was their taste: Fuller got nothing but corn oil in her bite. 

With a set of doughnuts that didn't meet the challenge, didn't taste good, and didn't look good, all Williams had was an interesting presentation. That wasn't anywhere near enough to keep her around.

6. Sandra Danso-Boadi pairs contrasting desserts

When you win the preliminary round on "Spring Baking Championship", you're given an advantage in the main heat for that episode. That doesn't mean that the judges will go harder on you than your fellow bakers, but it does mean you don't have as much of an excuse if your dish isn't up to par.

Sandra Danso-Boadi won the edge with her sunset-themed doughnuts in the preliminary heat, which gave her the exclusive right to use NASA photos as a guide for her starry skies dessert in the main heat. She used that advantage well, as all three judges complimented her on her design of the supermoon.

Unfortunately for her, she forgot to make sure that her supermoon went with the rest of her dessert, and notoriously difficult judge Duff Goldman noticed. Danso-Boadi made the supermoon into a chocolate cake with dulce de leche and placed it on a mixed berry cheesecake. Goldman noted that the flavors didn't work together, and to make matters worse, her cheesecake didn't have the right texture. 

According to Goldman, a good cheesecake should be something the eater can cut through with their fork, leaving tracks behind. Danso-Boadi's cheesecake was too soft for that, making it seem more liquid. Despite her advantage, she was sent home.

5. Nickey Boyd and Alex Bonnefoi need a double save

It's rare to get to the end of the "Spring Baking Championship" season and see a critical mistake. To see two out of the final four bakers make a crucial mistake was unprecedented ... until Season 10 came around. 

Both Alex Bonnefoi and Nickey Boyd appeared to be solid contenders, as Bonnefoi had multiple episode wins and Boyd had a pair of preliminary wins to her name. But in this episode, an entremet challenge proved too difficult for both of them to handle. For this task, bakers had to create a traditional French entremet cake (a mousse dessert with multiple layers) along with a New Orleans snowball (a snow cone). Bonnefoi seemed to handle his strawberry entremet well, as it had the look and texture the judges expected. Then they tasted it and found the dessert to be lacking sugar.

Boyd's mistake came in spite of a 10-minute head start from winning the preliminary challenge. Her coffee-flavored entremet was supposed to be a take on tiramisu, but she made a crucial mistake that you can't make with tiramisu: she forgot to soak her cake. 

The judges weren't happy with either effort, but they ultimately decided to give both a second chance and eliminated nobody. Boyd took advantage and won the next episode, while Bonnefoi couldn't recover and was eliminated in the following show.

4. Najie Mercedes learns flavor beats presentation

This cake is living proof of the phrase "You can't judge a book by its cover." In this case, the cake actually had no cover, because the challenge was to make a naked cake, which has no frosting. The naked cake certainly has its detractors, but Najie Mercedes had no problem with that part of the assignment. In fact, Duff Goldman complimented her on its appearance, telling her that it looked great before taking a bite.

And that was where things went off the rails. Unlike fellow bakers Audrey McGinnis and Dustin Charbonneau, both of whom made unattractive but delicious cakes, Mercedes' cake didn't meet expectations. Goldman complimented her berries and her mascarpone-ricotta frosting, but then devastated her with a backhanded compliment: "It has the right amount of sweetness — if this was a good cake. This is not a good cake. This cake is weird; it tastes like bread."

Things only got worse when Lorraine Pascal described the cake as style over substance and asked if she'd put sugar in her cake. When Mercedes said she'd put two kinds of sugar, Pascal replied, "Two grains of sugar?" Unsurprisingly, Mercedes ended up bottom with McGinnis, and because it's "Spring Baking Championship" and not "Spring Decorating Championship," McGinnis survived the episode.

3. Kendra Stevens makes a skirt steak cake

Usually, it's a good thing when a judge likes the look of your cake. Unfortunately, when said judge is Duff Goldman, that can be either positive or negative because of how widely his tastes run the gauntlet. And in this case, Goldman's appreciation for the appearance of Kendra Stevens' cake was more of a warning light than a good sign.

The reason: Goldman thought Stevens' cake looked like skirt steak.

The assignment was to create a watercolor cake highlighting a specific fruit (in Stevens' case, cherries) and make an edible representation of said fruit using a specific ingredient (gum paste). Goldman himself is well known for making cakes that look like other things, but the difference is that he's trying to create that look. Stevens wasn't going for meat at all; the look of her cake was an unfortunate coincidence.

A good cake would have saved her, but Stevens' frosting didn't work. Lorraine Pascal said that her buttercream frosting tasted like butter. When the judges openly say your frosting could go on toast, that's a bad sign.

2. Stephon Cook puts a truffle on a cookie

When you present a dessert on "Spring Baking Championship," it had better make sense. If it doesn't, Duff Goldman will question it. That proved true here when Stephon Cook placed a fully formed chocolate-orange truffle on a cookie, presenting it as one of his tea party desserts.

Even though savory truffles can be controversial, chocolate truffles are usually winners in cooking competitions. But Cook's addition of a truffle to a cookie made his desserts far too large for a tea party and created contrasting flavors with the addition of chocolate and orange.

On top of that, combining the truffle with the cookie just didn't make any sense to Goldman. He directly asked Cook: "Why is there a truffle on a cookie? I feel like it's weird." Kardea Brown further explained that it made the dessert feel disconnected, even though she enjoyed the truffle.

In a further twist of the knife for Cook, the judges all praised his raspberry macaron. Had he left the cookies out and just presented the truffle and macaron, he likely would have survived the episode.

1. Michael Bass makes a layer cake without layers

When they're made right, a layer cake is one of the most popular and traditional American desserts. But to make a good layer cake, you need to bake your layers separately and take extra care with frosting the cake. Most importantly, you have to make sure that you put enough frosting in between each layer to create a cohesive bite.

Michael Bass wasn't able to do that with his floral dome cake. Making a dome cake meant that even layers wouldn't be part of this cake, but the sloppy way he prepared his cake meant that the layers got pushed out of the cake and out to the sides. When the judges tasted the cake, they found nothing in between each layer. Inside the dome, the three layers essentially collapsed onto each other.

That meant the judges couldn't taste the lychee or jasmine in the frosting, which ruined the bite Bass was trying to create. Even though the cake tasted fine, it didn't match the flavor profile the judges wanted. Poor presentation and an average cake proved too difficult a combination for Bass to survive.