She’s neither a fan of slasher movies nor psychological thrillers. But on this season of Halloween Baking Championship, Carla Hall says expect to see plenty of scary challenges incorporating those themes. That’s because this season, the show is playing homage to 1980’s slashers movies – both ionic, obscure and just downright freaky.
Carla is joined yet again by her co-judges, Pastry Chefs Stephanie Boswell and Zack Young, as well as host John Henson to help choose this season’s winner. Carla says the group’s common shared interests, such as acting and overall rapport is a huge part of why she thinks Halloween Baking Championship has been such a fan favourite all these years and why it continues to be one of the most entertaining shows.
“ I think the bakers are great, but [the cast] there is a sense of family with John and my fellow judges,” Carla says. “We just don’t keep ourselves strapped with boundaries. We really play and we get into the characters that we dress up as. And no other show has the costumes. I think the costumes every year just level up.”
Carla Hall’s Highlights From Halloween Baking Championship
Speaking of levelling up, Carla says fans can expect to see bakers create some of the scariest cakes to date – with the set and costumes coming in a close second! “This year, the network allowed us to get really scary [meaning] we can have skin hanging off of our faces,” said Carla.
“The fact that the setting of the show is at Camp Devil’s Food Lake, so [think] legs, scariness, spookiness, things jumping out at you – you can plan on all of that. I might not be able to tell you when it’s going to happen, but just know it’s going to happen.”
What else? Maybe not as frightening, only “ugly delicious” as Carla calls them, but “you’re going to see a lot of great crusts this season.” And who doesn’t like a good crust? Carla says she’s first in line for a delicious slab of pie.
“If I had to choose between cake or pie, I would choose pie because I love fruit and I love the flakiness. I love the differences in texture with pie. I love a flaky buttery crust.”
Tips for Going Beyond Cake Decorations
Decorating a cake so it wows the judges on the show takes technical skills, artistic abilities – and a load of experience, says Hall. But her advice for home bakers aspiring to be on the show or who want to be the star in their own kitchens at home? Take risks and go beyond focusing on just the decorations.
“It’s not just about decorating, but really [bakers have to] make sure that the textures of your baked goods are great,” she says. “Understand how butter works: Do you want to use room temperature or softened butter? I mean, those are very different things. Start slowly, then go to [the] decorating and then just make sure that it’s something that you enjoy.”
As for that one winning element that edges out the competition? Dare to be different.
“I think white sugar is overused and I think I would like to see the bakers explore different sweeteners because it gives more interest to the baked goods. I’m thinking there’s always some kind of raspberry with chocolate. I would like to see them break out and use something that’s not so predictable.”
Related: Apple Spider Web Pops
Carla Hall’s Trend Predictions for 2022: Savoury Sweets and Spices
Using savoury spices in baked goods is something Carla says bakers on the show typically shy away from using – but not this season.
“When I think of spices, I think of cumin, cayenne and black pepper, [and] we actually forced them [the bakers] to use them. You’re going to see cinnamon, you’re going to see nutmeg, you’re going to see allspice. Those are the very traditional spices, you see those. What we challenge them to do, though, is to go beyond their comfort level and use some of these other spices.”
“What I think could be a trend or maybe I want this to be a trend is vegetables sweetened and turned into something else,” Carla told us. Using parsnips, or something like that in a cake, instead of carrot cake, [perhaps] celery root, the texture with celery root could be really nice. People are starting to use beets in a red velvet cake instead of the red dye because it’s natural, but the texture of beets also gives us that moist crumb.”
Carla Hall’s Favourite Recipes and Baking Traditions
Holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving are a great time to get everyone in the family involved in creating a meal and making long-lasting traditions, says Hall. Admittedly, the former Top Chef contestant says she didn’t start baking until she was well into her twenties, but she always loved to eat – especially her grandmother’s cornbread.
“I remember just like watching her waiting for that cornbread to be done..you would have that cast iron skillet, you put the oil in the skillet and then you pour the batter into the skillet, and I remember, the sizzle that the batter would make. And then all of the batter would be rolling up the sides of that cast iron skillet and that she would put it in the oven. And I knew in 20-minutes we’d be eating.”
She says in those early days it wasn’t about learning how to make the cornbread however, but rather for her, it was about recreating the memories surrounding the moments before she ate the cornbread that in part, inspired her baking career today.
Watch Halloween Baking Championship Mondays at 9 PM ET/PT. Watch and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.