The Great Australian Bake Off, Season 1 Episode 4: Pies

This week on The Great Australian Bake Off, our nine bakers are making pies! The meat pie is a great Australian staple, and my personal favourite pie shop is Parker Pies in Rutherglen. Pie in the Sky in Olinda is also pretty good – they have sweet pies as well as savoury. My favourite thing about pie week in The Great British Bake Off is the number of times Mary and Paul say the words “soggy bottom”, so I will have a running soggy bottom tally this week.Anyway, on with the show!

Signature bake: savoury pies

This week for the signature bake, our bakers were asked to make six savoury pies. Angela made creamy lemon chicken pies with thyme and chilli, which was a family recipe. Towards the end, Mel went to ‘help’ Angela with her already baked pies, and talked about how she loves opening the top and putting tomato sauce in. Then Angela called Mel a bogan for even thinking about putting tomato sauce on a chicken pie. Maggie and Matt loved Angela’s pies, which had good pastry, tender chicken, and was well balanced. Ben also made chicken pies, but his also had ham, leek and mustard, and they sounded great. His pastry was really good, as was the filling, and the judges made special mention of how the sharpness of the mustard added to the overall flavour. Suzy made her ‘perfect trio’ pies, filled with mince beef, potato and caramelised onion, as well as homemade tomato relish. The relish was really good, but it overpowered the pie, which was a bit bland.

Sian made a vegetarian pie with four kinds of mushroom and ricotta. Here we have the first instance of Matt Moran’s pie bias for the night, as he had no idea how it would work without meat. Thankfully he was proven wrong, and was surprised that it was so meaty. He has a hatted restaurant, surely he knows that mushrooms are meaty. I doubt his judging credibility more as this show continues. James made a pork and sage pie with prunes, which the judges loved. Janice made Chinese pork pies with a lard pastry which the judges liked, but they found her filling to be too bland. Brendan’s chicken, bacon and vegetable pies were also bland. In our second instance of Matt Moran’s lack of imagination when it comes to filling, he doubted Nathan’s satay pork pies, because he has satay prejudice. Satay sauce has to go on top, it can’t be a filling. Nathan did a great job though, and I’m always happy when Matt Moran is proven wrong. Jasmin made sage and pork pies with a quail egg. She was running out of time, so she got help from Brendan and Janice. Mel also offered to help, but Janice doubts her intentions, worried that she’ll just try to eat Jasmin’s pies. The quail eggs are cooked perfectly, but the pastry is undercooked and the filling doesn’t have enough seasoning.

Soggy bottom tally: 0

Technical challenge

The technical challenge this week was a Maggie Beer recipe for a blood orange and chocolate vino cotto meringue pie with hazelnut pastry. I had no idea what that meant when I first heard it, but luckily the show broke it down into its component parts for me. The curd was made from blood oranges, and it was a fantastic colour. There was some chocolate spread between the pastry and the curd, and the meringue also had chocolate flavour as well as Maggie’s vino cotto. The rankings for this challenge from last to first were Janice, Sian, Brendan, James, Angela, Suzy, Nathan, Ben and Jasmin came first.

Soggy bottom tally: 1. Mel mentioned soggy bottoms in reference to blind baking the pastry in a voiceover.

Showstopper: deep dish fruit pie

At the end of the first two challenges, Maggie and Matt have Nathan and Ben doing well, while Janice, Sian and Brendan are in trouble. The showstopper for the week is a deep dish fruit pie, which needs to be family sized, full of fruit and decorated on the top. Sian made an apple, prune and vino cotto pie, and her pastry was cooked this time! Maggie loved the filling, but the apple was too firm for Matt, so Sian said “I’m going to pretend you’re not here”, which is wise (I don’t dislike Matt Moran, I just don’t think he’s a very good judge). Janice made a compost pie, with three kinds of pastry – chocolate, custard and orange, inspired by autumn leaves – and a spiced pear filling. Maggie and Matt loved the pastry, but the flavours weren’t balanced so it just ended up too sweet. James made an apple and nutmeg pie with a custard filling, and the judges loved it, although they questioned whether or not it was impressive enough for a showstopper (this irks me to no end), and said there could have been more custard. Jasmin made her Very Berry pie as a dedication to her Nan. It had lovely decorations, but the only feedback that made it into the final edit is that the pastry was overworked. Suzy made an apple and pear pie with a touch of sparkle, and it wasn’t quite right. The poor thing added a bit too much spice to her filling, and the pastry was slightly underdone, but it wasn’t a disaster.

Brendan decided to buck convention this week and not decorate his pie, despite it being part of the brief, and he made a baklava pie with apple, honey and walnuts. The flavour was good, but the filling wasn’t suitable for a pie of that size, because it all just oozed out. Angela made a strawberry, apple and rhubarb pie with cinnamon and almonds, and she used her own recipe for shortbread pastry. Maggie Beer asked for the recipe, which is all you need to know. Ben made a spiced pear and walnut pie with a caramel sauce. The pastry was good, but the filling was too reduced, and there was so much saffron in the pie that it stained the pear. Finally Nathan made an apple and blackberry pie, which Maggie loved, but as with Sian, Matt thought he needed to cook the apple a bit more.

The star baker this week was Angela, because even though she was around the middle for the technical challenge, Maggie Beer asked for her recipe. Janice went home this week, she didn’t have a good time – each baker has their specific strengths, and pie week just wasn’t Janice’s week. She was an absolute delight in the tent, so I’m glad to see her go. I’m surprised Brendan is still there, he’s scraped through for three out of the four weeks so far.

Soggy bottom tally: 2. In addition to Mel’s explanation of blind baking in Round 2, Claire warned the bakers at the beginning of the showstopper that their pies shouldn’t have soggy bottoms. This number was much lower than what I had expected.

This week in Australian wildlife, we had a kookaburra (it’s so great when you hear them communicating with each other), and two colourful birds that I want to say were rainbow lorikeets, but I really don’t know. A bird also flew into the tent to visit Jasmin at one point.

Next week on The Great Australian Bake Off, our bakers are doing chocolate. Chocolate is difficult to work with, so it makes a great end of series theme, rather than the middle. And we still haven’t had bread week! At least in The Great British Bake Off, you know the first three weeks will be cake, biscuits and bread. Then again, chocolate is one of my favourite things, so I will be watching.


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