Holiday Baking Championship declares a winner in pie vs. cake battle

In the Season 9 premiere of The Holiday Baking Championship, the new set of 12 bakers were tasked with a massive baking challenge. Which team of bakers would reign supreme in the ultimate dessert battle. Could Team Pie get a win over Team Cake? The judges would choose one for sweet supremacy.

When a new season of the Holiday Baking Championship begins, the first two episodes can be tough. Although every baker wants to impress the judges, no one wants to get it wrong at the start of the contest. Even if the middle ground is safe, it might be better to play the odds in the first challenges.

For the first challenge, the bakers raised crowns of meringue pavlova. The delicate paste may look like a puffy cloud, but it can crumble with just a touch. Even though these bakers are experienced, sometimes the day doesn’t go as planned.

Overall the meringue pavlova wreaths were a hit. There were a few cracks along the way and questionable designs. Still, the first challenge seemed to show that these bakers were ready for the competition.

From clever flavor combinations to proper technique, the bakers impressed the judges. Even though incorporating fruit in innovative and tasty ways is not easy, it seemed like child’s play for these bakers. Yet only one baker could achieve victory.

Aishia earns the first victory of the season. Her khaki pavlova crown was visually stunning. More importantly, the flavors impressed the judges. It would be a welcome gift on any holiday table.

The Holiday Baking Championship forces the judges to choose – cake or pie.

For the Main Heat, the 12 bakers went head-to-head. Divided in the middle, half the bakers had to make a pie and the other half a cake. The flavors were the same. In the end, the side with the most wins would be safe, and a baker on the losing side of the desserts would go home.

As the warm-up winner, Aishia could choose to swap her dessert flavor with another teammate. She pulled the candy cane and decided to keep her flavor. Although her dessert was tasty, it did not earn her the victory. One of the best desserts of the episode was Harshal’s candy cane flavored cake. This clearly impressed the judges.

Since only one, pie or cake, could be declared the best holiday dessert, the judges had to decide. It came down to Harshal’s candy cane cake and Jessica’s pecan pie. In the end, the gooey, decadent flavor of the pecan pie was crowned the winner.

All the pastry chefs were safe and sound, which was a big problem for Antoine. He didn’t ditch the mid-challenge twist of adding snowflake cookies. He has decided not to roll out his gingerbread cookies and hopes for the best. If it hadn’t been for Jessica’s victory, he might have gone home.

Unfortunately, a baker had to be eliminated during the first episode. For anyone who has watched Holiday Baking Championship over the years, the outcome was pretty clear. RaChelle was sent home. Her cake wasn’t up to par. Although her flavor wasn’t bad, the nuggets took on eggnog flavors and her snowflake cookies were clearly undercooked. It was not this baker’s day.

Given that this is the first episode of Season 9 of The Holiday Baking Championship, it’s hard to tell who might rise to the top. Based on these two challenges, this could be anyone’s title up for grabs.

A new episode of Season 9 of The Holiday Baking Championship airs Monday at 8 p.m. on Food Network.