5 Baking Competition Shows You Should Watch as a Pastry Student

We’ve rounded up the best baking competition shows to watch on TV to elevate your skill set and explore modern baking techniques.

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June 2, 2023 5 min read

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As a baking & pastry student, you can certainly explore how to frost delicate European cakes or bake flaky French bread in the classroom. But you can also experiment with modern baking techniques by simply observing other pastry chefs and bakers in their element on baking competition shows.

Not only can you examine how these individuals perform under high pressure, but you can also get fresh recipe ideas and expand your knowledge! Keep perusing to find out the top five baking competitions you should watch now.

1. The Great British Baking Show

Coming up on season 14 and known as The Great British Bake Off in the United Kingdom, this award-winning, light-hearted Netflix baking competition show started in the UK in 2010. This baking competition offers an experimental playground for bakers to compete in various challenges that span homemade cakes, pastries, bread, and other treats. Every episode consists of three challenges contestants must complete before elimination.

The first challenge is called “the signature bake,” which allows contestants to leverage their creative flair and execute a unique twist on a traditional recipe. During the second challenge, bakers undergo a technical round and must generate a close-to-perfect replica of a recipe, with limited instructions. The last “showstopper” challenge allows bakers to show off their baking & pastry chops, by assembling an elaborate masterpiece. Each episode is judged by Paul Hollywood—UK’s leading artisan baker, and Prue Leith—a revered culinary expert.

Pastry chef adding decoration to a brown cake on a golden cake stand

Baker practicing preparing intricate cakes.

2. Bake Squad

Bake Squad premiered on Netflix in 2021 and is hosted by Christina Tosi—the famous Founder and Pastry Chef of Milk Bar bakery. Four talented bakers come together to create an intricate, jaw-dropping dessert for a client in each episode. Usually, these masterpieces push bakers to their limits and oftentimes, they request guidance from Tosi herself.

Opera cake with gold flakes on top

Opera cake dessert assembled for a baking contest.

A rotating panel of celebrity guest judges evaluates the bakers’ creations based on presentation, taste, and adherence to the challenge rules.

3. Cake Wars

Even though Cake Wars on Food Network no longer airs new episodes, this highly-competitive baking show “takes the cake” when it comes to the niche of cake baking.

Jonathan Bennett hosted these grueling challenges, where four bakers would face off in a themed event to potentially win a cash prize of $10,000. In each episode, contestants must leverage their expert baking skills to execute highly-detailed confections—judged on presentation and taste.

Two tier cake with pink and orange flowers

Gorgeous cake with intricate detail work from Online Pastry Arts student Kari J.

Although there are several episodes to view, one of the most memorable to date is the Season 3, Star Wars cake competition that celebrated the release of the video game.

4. Sugar Rush

If you’re looking for an “edge of your seat” type of competition show that’s a race against the clock, Sugar Rush on Netflix is it! This baking competition show features teams of professional bakers who must work together to bake extravagant confections to win the grand prize of $10,000.

So how is this show structured exactly? Four teams compete against each other in three rounds—which consist of baking all types of confections, such as sweet cupcakes and cakes. Each team gets three hours to complete the first two rounds and if they finish under that allotted time, those bonus minutes are applied to the last round. To no surprise, most baking & pastry students can absorb expert-level knowledge by watching Sugar Rush, while also getting an inside glimpse into the intrinsic team environment of a kitchen.

5. Baking Impossible

One of the most high-stakes baking shows on TV is Baking Impossible on Netflix— a series where professional bakers and engineers work together to create edible “bakineering” creations. In the trailer, viewers know exactly what to expect in the enticing voiceover that states, “We’re demanding incredible ingenuity to make the impossible just quite possible.”

Contestants are paired off into nine teams, where they face a series of daunting challenges that must survive an architectural stress test and taste evaluation. Several more Baking Impossible matches also involve robotics and fashion—requiring specific technical skills and an even more prolific imagination to win the grand prize of $100,000.

Expand Your Skills Through Baking Competition Shows

Many professional bakers and pastry chefs say that to become an expert-level chef, you’ll always be a lifelong learner. Aside from expanding your skills by watching baking competition shows, you can also elevate your knowledge through Escoffier’s Baking & Pastry program.

From cake decorating and artisan bread baking to menu planning and foodservice management, this curriculum can help you turn your pastry career dreams into reality. Contact our admissions team to take the next step.

To discover more about baking & pastry, check these articles out next:

*This information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors such as geographical region or previous experience.

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