Claire: This will get you into the final, or it’ll be what you eat tonight when you cry, so make it count.
It’s semifinals week on The Great Australian Bake-Off! Our bakers are going back to classics, and based purely on the promotional photo for this episode, I’m guessing that the Technical challenge will be scones. I am 100% prepared to be wrong at this stage (update: I was wrong). Our four remaining bakers are Jasmin, Sian, Angela and Suzy, with seven Star Baker awards between them. Everything gets very tense this week, because the final is next week! Yay! Even though this can’t hold a candle to the original show, I have enjoyed this series very much, and I’m looking forward to its return next year. On with the show!
Signature bake: doughnuts
Doughnuts are one of my favourite sweet treats. I don’t want anything too fancy (although a well-made cronut is also appreciated), just a hot doughnut with cinnamon sugar. Our bakers had to make at least 8 doughnuts, and they could make as many or as few flavours as they liked. Jasmin did both raspberry jam and custard filled doughnuts and a glazed ring. The words the judges used to describe her doughnuts were soft, fluffy and crisp (all good things), her jam was fantastic and her custard was silky. Sian opted to just make one doughnut, which was dark chocolate and licorice flavour – there was a dark chocolate filling, and a licorice and white chocolate topping. The most interesting aspect of this particular judging was that Maggie Beer pronounces licorice as lico-riss. She’s embarrassed that she says it wrong, but as Matt Moran points out, it’s more likely that she’s right. The dough was a little too dense, but they looked great and the flavour combination worked.
Matt interrogated both Angela and Suzy, suggesting that what they were doing was too simple. I get Matt’s ‘it’s semi-finals week’ thing, but it’s a signature, not a showstopper. Maybe he was just trying to do a Paul Hollywood and freak them out. It worked. Suzy made pink and chocolate glazed doughtnuts as well as one cinnamon. Matt suggested that it wasn’t fancy enough and suggested that she made some traditional Greek doughnuts as well,* which ended up being the best of the lot. Angela was making a lemon curd filled doughnut topped with pistachios, and Matt questioned whether or not it was too simple. So, she made half of her curd into a custard, which was her downfall, because the custard wasn’t as good as the curd.
* A few weeks ago I wrote something about how on GBBO they have to bring their own ingredients, which doesn’t appear to be the case here. Clearly it isn’t, because Suzy just needs to ask the ingredients department for honey and walnuts to make her traditional Greek doughnuts. I also realised that unlike GBBO, this show is on a commercial network and has sponsors, Devondale and White Wings. Therefore the only labels they’re allowed to be showing are for those products, which is possibly why everything else goes into standard containers prepared by props. I still maintain that it would have been better to let Suzy take in a bottle of Cointreau and a bottle of Skipping Girl Vinegar. They could have just not had the labels pointed at the camera!
scones? Matt Moran’s passionfruit tart
So I was wrong about the technical challenge, it wasn’t scones, but Matt Moran’s passionfruit tart, the recipe for which you can find here. Maggie and Matt are off to ‘braid each other’s hair’ in the potting shed. What hair? The challenge didn’t get particularly interesting until Sian tried to take her pastry out of the oven without mitts and obviously burnt her hand. Angela and Suzy helped her pour her curd into the tart, because Angela’s was already in the oven and Suzy was waiting for her blind bake to finish. Sian’s sentiments about the whole thing: “Who cries over a tart? This is ridiculous, get a grip.” Jasmin’s pastry was uneven in the oven, so she uses some foil to prop up the back end of her tin, which looked dangerous.
It was at this point that Mel started bothering everyone, and Jasmin asked if she was bored. By this time Angela already had her tart in the fridge, and Suzy was using her oven door to check the wobble on her curd to see if it had set (something I will need to remember in the future). Mel has a look and says something about a wobble, does a dance and says “and then there’s the matter of your tart.” As Angela brought her tart out of the oven, Claire asked Jasmin if she wanted to have a look at it, and Jasmin replied “No, I’ll just get depressed.” Unsurprisingly Angela won, followed by Suzy, Sian and Jasmin in that order.
Showstopper: High tea
This is the point in the show when the hosts and judges confer to see who’s in the lead, and it’s too close. Onto the showstopper! It’s time for tea! There had to be at least three items, and one had to be an Australian themed bake. Jasmin made strawberry tarts, a chocolate slice, mini pavlovas with ANZAC crumbs and a Victoria sponge. The tarts were not great, but the sponge was perfect, and they raved about the chocolate slice. This was a great result for Jasmin after this exchange during the challenge:
Mel: Are you stressed?
Jasmin: I’m not stressed, just panicking
Mel: Panicking, that’s good.
Mel stirred something while Jasmin was doing something else, because Claire was having a crafternoon making doilies for Suzy, and Mel felt a bit left out.
Suzy’s high tea had an international theme, with baklava, an almond biscuit, a lemon and basil tart, and an orange cake lamington with passionfruit filling. It sounded like the lamington was the best thing ever, and the biscuit and tart were also great, but the judges praised Suzy for being able to make baklava during that time. We know from last week that Suzy is good with pastry, but I remember how much trouble they had making filo for their baklava on GBBO last year.
Unlike everyone else, Sian just stuck to three pastries, all of which were praised by the judges. Her tart had a raspberry and grapefruit curd filling with decorative meringe, she made an opera cake (I’m still not entirely sure what that is other than a cake that has layers), and finally some earl grey and blueberry flavoured mille feuille, all of which were so good that Maggie and Matt praised how professional they looked. The mille feuille were described as ‘heavenly’, and Matt said the opera cake was her best work so far. Then he told Mel and Claire that they had to try it, to which Mel responded, “Yay!” That’s how I’d respond too.
Angela, in true Angela fashion, made five different bakes for her country high tea. Lemon myrtle scones, which sound delicious, a yoyo, a tart with some sort of filling, lamingtons and melting moments. Angela did all of this very quickly, leaving Suzy to remark “Of course she’s finished”. Unfortunately Angela’s bakes weren’t fantastic – there were good elements and flavours, but they weren’t detailed enough for high tea.
In the end, Sian won Star Baker for her fantastic high tea after being in the middle for the first two challenges, and Angela went home. Next week: finals!
- As always, you can find all the recipes on the Bake Off website.
- I wasn’t doing a close wildlife watch this week, but I did notice the bushes near the shed, which appear to be either lillies or agapanthus. They weren’t in flower at the time, so it’s impossible to tell.
- The photo gallery is telling me that there was at least one kookaburra appearance, which makes sense, they obviously live there.
- Once again it was tough to choose photos, because there was a great one of Claire and Mel as well. This is just a great photo though, so it deserves to be at the top.