The Big Nailed It Baking Challenge

There are certain shows I like to watch when I don’t particularly feel like thinking too much, which is not to say the shows are stupid – more that the premise is sweet in its simplicity. I love baking shows for this reason (my favorite is “The Great British Bakeoff”), and I’ve always been a fan of Netflix’s “Nailed It!” series.

While I would love to think I would hold my own in that great tent of “The Great British Bakeoff”, the truth is, I’d be way more at home on the “Nailed It” set presenting one disaster after another to the judges. I think maybe that’s why a lot of people love the “Nailed It” series – they can see themselves doing a lot of what the contestants do.

The opportunity to binge-watch the latest incarnation of “Nailed It” presented itself when I was taken out by the flu this week and completely bedridden with a high fever on Wednesday, I think it was. Honestly, it’s hard to keep track of the days when you’re sick.

For “The Big Nailed It Baking Challenge”, which is like a cross between “The Great British Bakeoff” and “Nailed It”, the show took 12 people who are relatively bad at baking, gave them two baking teachers, then had the contestants create masterpieces in cake in a limited time frame.

While the first few episodes were entirely relatable (except for spreading buttercream with your hands on a cake), it felt like viewers weren’t given all of what was going on because it went from contestants saying things like “I have no idea what’s going on so I’ll just grab whatever I can find in the pantry behind me” to “Today, I’d like to make a ganache with a complementary raspberry reduction and a coconut buttercream that will hopefully really play up the chocolate notes of the cake” in a matter of about four episodes. The contestants went from “We shall all make vanilla cake and that is all we know” to things like “Today, I thought I’d try passionfruit in my cake, which is going to have orange blossom extract and a little bit of pretzles and freeze-dried strawberries for that added flavor and texture.”

How are they able to just wildly come up with these flavor combinations? My fever-addled brain concluded that we the viewers aren’t being shown all of the conversations between the contestants and the teachers, and that surely those teachers are severely helping them progress at such lightning speed and are teaching them these flavor combinations. I know I would never think to pair the flavors they suddenly do in the latter half of the show without some sort of guidance.

It’s an enjoyable show to watch, though, and I love the Baking 101 they do at the beginning of each episode. I don’t think I’m ever going to air-brush a cake, though, and I’m fine with that.

My last comment about this show is that I adore what they do for people who get booted off at the end of each episode. Normally with these shows it’s “Sorry, you’re out” and then sometimes hugs are exchanged and the poor person leaving gives a heartfelt speech about what a great experience this was for them. Then, they just leave.

On this show, however, those booted contestants get a 1-minute “pantry raid” on the set, where they can take absolutely anything they want and shove it into a tiny golden shopping cart before their time is up. If I were them, I would grab about 10 of those mixers – each one costs about $300, right? I’d gift them out to all my friends and family. And what about some of those extracts and emulsions? Or, above all, vanilla beans. I would dump all of them into my shopping cart. I like that the show doesn’t simply make the contestants leave empty handed, which too many shows do.