Lots of good stuff! Younger continues to be excellent. I haven’t highlighted the show this season, but I’m sure I will very soon. Even though it’s shutting down in January, Presto has some really good content coming up. In addition to the final season of Penny Dreadful, the film 45 Years is dropping on Tuesday, and I never got around to seeing that one in the cinema.Netflix has some horror films on the way, including an original production in I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House. The Circus continues to be essential viewing for people closely following the Presidential election, so there’s a lot to choose from.
Claire: No Lorraines please, don’t be a quiché.
Last season I was a bit annoyed that this show didn’t follow the tradition of doing bread on Week 3, but no more! Pies and Tarts is a fun one, especially after biscuits (which I love to eat, but aren’t the most compelling television. Mel and Claire are looking forward to wardrobe loosening their waistbands.
Then, after a year, Mel gets revenge on Claire for last season’s stunt. Claire only has one face though…
Signature challenge: Savoury Quiche
For the signature challenge, the bakers are making a family sized savoury quiche. Maggie emphasises the importance of savoury vegetables for the camera, and Matt provides us with a list of all the different ways a quiche can go wrong. I hope he did that out of earshot from the contestants.
Olivia is making a bacon, feta and asparagus quiche, which she makes for her husband and her brother. It’s just something they love to eat, and she has some experience making it, which helps. Matt says the quiche is a bit too firm, but the flavour is “beautiful,” which is high praise for him. Afterwards Olivia says that bacon makes everything better, and she is correct.
Monica is “fondling her mushrooms” (her words) for her Trio of Mushrooms quiche, with wild, porcini and button mushrooms. Matt warns that the porcini mushroom can overpower the other flavours. The mushrooms aren’t cooked enough, and it needs more salt. Maggie says that mushrooms are the vacuum cleaners of salt.
Noel is making a smoked salmon quiche with asparagus and leek from his garden. His pastry is perfect and golden, and Matt cuts a big slice because he anticipates loving it. It’s definitely the judges’ favourite quiche so far.
Antonio is taking a risk by not chilling his pastry dough before blind baking in order to save time. His pea and asparagus quiche also has parmesan cheese. Maggie likes the creativity of the asparagus over the edge of the quiche, but she’s worried the tips are over cooked. It tastes fantastic, and Maggie’s surprised that not chilling the pastry has worked.
At this stage Liesel’s quiche is the healthiest. It’s filled with asparagus and capsicum, and topped with broccolini. She’s the first baker to have a soggy bottom on her quiche, and Matt says it’s underseasoned. Liesel knows it’s not her best work.
Diana is making a Mexican taco quiche complete with minced meat, which is a new interpretation on the quiche in Australia, but it’s a popular Friday night dish in Sweden. I’m interested to see how this one turns out. It turns out quite dense, and there’s not enough room for the custard. It’s too “out there” for our judges.
Fiona is making a zucchini and feta quiche (some more traditional quiche fillings), seasoned with mint and garlic. Maggie is concerned about the amount of water in zucchini. She was the last person to get her quiche in the oven, so she’s worried it won’t set in time. The pastry is baked well on the bottom, but the moisture of the zucchini has seeped into the pastry at the top. Maggie would like more seasoning.
After last week’s disaster, James is flustered and gets zucchini confused with asparagus. His vegetarian quiche has asparagus, tomato and roast pumpkin. Mel’s concerned about James’ knife skills, so she gives Maggie and Matt a quick demonstration. He’s done well; Maggie can taste the herbs, and Matt loves the roast pumpkin.
Jeremy‘s quiche is inspired by curried egg sandwiches. His curried egg quiche also has potato and eggplant. The pastry is very good, but Maggie and Matt advise that he makes his own curry powder next time.
Bojan‘s Loaded quiche is filled with chorizo and sundried tomato, and topped with caremelised onion. This is the one I most want to eat. Matt says the seasoning is “pretty good”, but Maggie says the egg to filling ratio isn’t quite right.
Signature bake: Pistachio and frangipane tarts
Before our bakers know what they’re baking, Maggie Beer tells them to get their pastry blind baking as soon as they can and really push it. No soggy bottoms allowed. The challenge is to make four pistachio and frangipane tarts with rhubarb and raspberries. They have two hours to complete the challenge. Matt remarks that a lot can go wrong, but Maggie insists it’s worth it. Noel has some trouble getting his Kenwood device to crush his pistachios, so Monica helps him out for a kiss on the cheek. Noel tells Mel he’s had technological issues, so Mel asks what’s wrong with his iPhone. Noel doesn’t have an iPhone, but he bought his first mobile phone last week. Liesel realises that she doesn’t know whether to classify rhubarb as a fruit or a vegetable. She also says that you can call the colour of the filling spring green or baby puke green.Olivia accidentally takes Jeremy’s rhubarb, so they swap!
From soggy bottom to top we have Jeremy, Noel, Diana, Antonio, Monica, Fiona, Olivia, James, Liesel and Bojan. Bojan thinks it’s time to get a Maggie Beer tattoo. At least he’s going to tell his wife first.
Showstopper: Three-tiered pies
The restrictions for the showstopper challenge is that the pies must be united by a common theme and they need to be self-supporting. The bakers have a choice of sweet or savoury.
Jeremy‘s pies have an apple theme, and he’s pairing apple with a different ingredient for each pie: caramel, rhubarb and pear. They taste great, and the apples have kept their shape even though they’re perfectly cooked.
Once again, Olivia is cooking with bacon, because she knows what she’s good at. Maggie is happy to hear that Olivia’s made a hot watercrust pastry for her pork pies, accompanied with apple, quince and fig respectively. Matt is impressed with Olivia’s choice of filling, which will be dense enough to support the structure. Maggie loves the pastry, and Matt said the fig pie is one of the best things he’s tasted in the competition so far.
Liesel is also going for an apple theme, with different flavours in each pie. The top is cinnamon, the middle is quince and ginger, and fig and honey at the bottom. Unfortunately they didn’t stack well, so she’s had to put them on two boards. Maggie and Matt love her fillings, and Matt just says she tried to do too much as Maggie keeps eating.
Bojan is using onion as the theme for his pies, and he’s been creative. The top tier is accompanied by mushroom and prosciutto, hamburger in the middle and beef stroganoff on the bottom. I have a lot of recipes to look up tonight. They love the pastry, so he’s off to a good start. The fillings are great, so I’m definitely looking up these recipes. Bojan is definitely up for Star Baker this week.
Monica’s pie is a three course meal. The top tier is kale, spinach and cheese (one of my favourite savoury pies), chicken and leek in the middle (another one of my favourites), and a spiced apple pie at the bottom. Monica gets an “excellent” from Matt.
Antonio is making sweet cheese pies flavoured with lemon, vanilla and raspberry. He’s a bit worried because the filling for all three pies is the same, so it’s going to have to taste great. Maggie loves it, but Matt thinks it’s a bit grainy, and would have liked more flavours. It wasn’t a disaster, so he’s probably safe.
Fiona‘s pies have a winter fruit theme. Her top pie is rhubarb and pistachio frangipane topped with a rhubarb lattice, pear and nutmeg in the middle, and apple and salted caramel on the bottom. With only two pies to present to the judges, the apple pie is delicious, but there’s too much nutmeg in the pear pie.
Noel has already over-cooked his pistachios for his three tier frangipane pie. The top tier is a bakewell tart, a berry frangipane in the middle, and pistachios, dates and apricot at the bottom. Matt questions whether it’s a pie or a tart during the challenge, but doesn’t seem to mind when he’s eating it. The frangipane is cooked perfectly, but the date is overpowering the pistachio.
James‘ pie is a Ploughman’s Lunch. The top tier is apple and custard, cheese and potato in the middle, and pork in the bottom. The cheese and potato pie isn’t great, but the judges love the apple and custard.
Antonio’s pies are in the oven, so he wanders around the shed, sniffing Liesel’s fortified wine before Olivia puts him to work.
Something at Diana’s bench catches fire, which catches Maggie and Matt’s attention. She’s making princess themed pies presented as a castle. The top tier is elderflower and vanilla for Frozen, apple and saffron in the middle for Snow White, and spiced pumpkin at the bottom for cinderella. Unfortunately the spices weren’t properly balanced.
Disaster strikes when Fiona’s frangipane pie slips out of her fingers and splatters all over the oven door. She’s understandably upset, because she cooked it perfectly. Everyone feels horrible for her, and James can sympathise. Noel just wants everyone to be able to present three pies to the judges because he’s a gentleman.
Olivia wins Star Baker, and really, it’s about time. She’s been in discussions for Star Baker every week so far (I watched the first three episodes in the space of 24 hours, so I could be wrong on this, but she hasn’t made any big mistakes), so it’s about time. Unsurprisingly, Diana goes home. Diana, you have been great, and I will miss you.
- #wildlifewatch: Wherever they film this show is home to kookaburras, bees and magpies, as well as the small birds whose name I don’t know.
- All images courtesy of Foxtel, Fremantle Media and BBC Worldwide.
- EDIT: Here are the recipes from this week’s episode.
Claire: We started with a dozen. Now we’re one sandwich short of a picnic.
As is tradition, Week 2 is Biscuit Week! Or bikkie week! The producers asked the contestants what sort of biscuits they’d be. James is shortbread: light and fluffy in the middle. As someone who isn’t particularly fond of shortbread, I would like to give his a try. Fiona is something a bit flakey and probably a bit cheesy. She’s my favourite just for that.
Signature bake: Savoury biscuits
Our bakers are making 36 individual biscuits each! That’s 396 savoury biscuits, so I really hope the crew didn’t go hungry this week. Matt says making biscuits is the first thing you ever do as a baker. Is that true? I can’t remember what my first bake was, but the first thing I did as a baker was lick the bowl.
James is making parmesan and chive biscuits topped with smoked salmon cream and a parmesan crisp. 5 minutes in and I’m already hungry! Matt says it’s the best thing he’s tasted so far, but it’s too soft for a biscuit (I like soft biscuits).
Olivia is making salted oatmeal and poppyseed biscuits, which sound perfect to have with cheese. And she’s served them with cheese! The biscuits are very good, but they’re too salty.
Monica is making savoury macarons, so hats off to Adriano Zumbo. They’ll be filled with gorgonzola, fig jam and prosciutto. The judges aren’t too sure about this one. Maggie suggests burning the fig jam, which is one of her ice cream flavours. The flavour combination doesn’t quite work, and Matt Moran says it doesn’t feel like a biscuit.
Cheryl barely made it through last week, so she’s going big with checkerboard biscuits. They’re flavoured with blue cheese, garlic and chives and coloured with activated charcoal. I don’t know what that is, either. Oh, it’s from the health food store. Okay. The judges praise her creativity and thankfully the charcoal doesn’t have any flavour.
Noel is making a savoury shortbread, the most overrated of biscuits. Except he’s replaced the sugar from his sweet recipe with cheese and he’s added rosemary, parmesan and cayenne, so I’d probably eat that. Maggie advises a light hand when it comes to cayenne. Noel is worried because he’s never made savoury biscuits before, but the judges love them.
Bojan is also making a savoury shortbread, but Mediterranean themed with sundried tomato and parmesan cheese. Everything’s going according to plan, so he’s worried a disaster will befall his biscuits. His biscuits are good, but too cakey.
Fiona is the early leader in pun awards for her Cheesy Good Thyme biscuits, flavoured with chilli, thyme and fennel. Maggie was a bit shocked when the chilli came through, but both of them loved it.
Jeremy is my new hero with his pizza biscuit topped with ham and gruyère and a cheddar stuffed crust. I really hope this one works. Matt Moran is worried about this because for some reason he doesn’t like cold pizza. They taste good, but the pizza biscuit is a dish best served hot. He eats his biscuits for his post-challenge interview.
While waiting for their biscuits to bake, Antonio and Noel meet over a cup of tea. A nod to his heritage, he’s making savoury biscotti filled with sundried tomato, fennel and garlic. They taste great, but the biscotti isn’t dried out enough. I’m going to put that down to not enough time.
Diana has had some trouble with her biscuit dough. She’s making bacon and fennel crackers which sound delicious. Her biscuits come out very crisp, and she remarks that someone could break their teeth. Matt says they taste good, but they’re a bit too simple.
Liesel is making pumpkin seed oatmeal biscuits filled with goats’ cheese and pomegranate. She helps Jeremy with his pizza sauce. Her biscuits are delicious and the flavours are perfectly balanced. She’s one to watch.
Technical challenge: Florentine biscuits
The bakers have two hours to make Maggie’s florentine biscuits, complete with Australian fruit. Many of them are unsure as to what a florentine looks like, so this is going to be interesting! Maggie’s secret ingredient is angelica. Cheryl says it looks like celery. Mel says “Perfect. Who doesn’t love celery in a biscuit?” James says that if he comes first in this challenge he’ll get a florentine tattoo. We can only hope for this outcome. People are re-cutting their florentines after they’re baked. Someone did that on GBBO a couple of years ago, and Mary Berry does not approve. It’s been an interesting two hours for our bakers.
From last to first: Jeremy, Cheryl, Noel, Monica, Bojan, Fiona, Liesel, Diana, Olivia, James, and Antonio wins, depriving the world of James’ florentine tattoo. Noel is going to make them at home, sans chocolate.
Showstopper: Biscuit landmarks
As always with biscuit week, the Showstopper tests the bakers’ construction skills. This time they’ve been asked to make a recognisable landmark out of biscuits.
Cheryl is very aware that she needs to perform well today, and her showstopper is a recreation of St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow with chocolate and orange flavoured biscuits, decorated with meringue and fondant. The presentation is good, but the biscuits haven’t worked out well. The shortbread is too hard.
James is honouring Perth with his Bell Tower biscuit structure. Matt has been to Perth many times, but he’s never heard of the Bell Tower, so this could be interesting. The structure will have sugar biscuits, chocolate covered gingerbread and isomalt shards. It breaks during construction, and James is understandably upset. He’s got something to present, but it’s not what he wanted, especially since he considers biscuits to be his strength. James explains what happened, and then Maggie and Matt praise his biscuit, so he’s done something right. He karate chops his Bell Tower after it’s been judged and everyone rushes to eat it. Praise all around!
Diana has chosen to make the Eiffel Tower out of chocolate biscuits with vanilla icing decoration. Matt asked why she chose the Eiffel Tower, Diana says that if she can’t go there, she’ll build it and eat it, which is a fantastic reason. At least Matt has heard of the Eiffel Tower, so that’s a point in her favour. The structure holds, and her icing detailing is intricate. Furthermore it tastes good, so well done Diana.
Antonio is making a gingerbread Big Ben. He’s “pretty sure” it’s in London. He’s using caramel as his glue. It’s a bit too hot for Matt (Maggie says it’s the nutmeg), but Antonio has done a “damn fine” job. I wonder where he’s at with his Twin Peaks rewatch.
Noel is also using gingerbread to recreate l’Arc de Triomphe. The top of the structure will comprise of shortbread, chocolate creams and ginger creams. It’s in honour of his mother, who made all of these biscuits every Christmas. The gingerbread was a bit too tough, but the creams were good. The judges would have liked some more intricate decoration.
It’s an ‘Arc-Off’ as Olivia is also recreating l’Arc de Triomphe with gingerbread. She’s using three different kinds of sugar to set her gingerbread apart. Her Arc is decorated with royal icing, and she’s included the roundabout and cars as part of her structure. Maggie loves it, and Matt says she’s done a “pretty good” job. His standards might be a touch too high.
Liesel is making a butter biscuit, infused with chai and earl grey tea to recreate the Taj Mahal. She’s put a lot of thought into it (the pool is going to be filled with custard), and Matt is excited to see how it turns out. She poured her custard into the pool from a teapot and it was amazing. Matt says it’s “superb,” so she’s definitely up for Star Baker this week. Also Star Human.
Jeremy is also making the Taj Mahal. His biscuits are flavoured with saffron and cardamom. His pool will be filled with blue jelly. Maggie loves the cardamom and saffron. Matt says the biscuits are a bit too thick, but it’s “pretty damn good”. He’s a man of few words.
Fiona‘s decided to recreate the pyramids of Egypt! Her pyramids are orange and cardamom flavoured, the sphinx is flavoured with rose water, and she’s made a pistachio and rose water praline for her sand. Her flavours and concept are great, but Matt is concerned that it’s not big enough to be a showstopper.
Bojan is also recreating an Egyptian structure and his Sphinx is made from spicy gingerbread. Maggie says that the sphinx has a presence, and the biscuit is very good. Matt says Bojan has done a “great” job. I’m going to figure out his scale of praise at some point.
Monica has decided to reimagine the brief; her structure is inspired by her travels, so she’s made a biscuit tier with fourteen different gingerbread landmarks. With her different flavoured gingerbreads and stunning decorations, she’s redeemed herself in Matt’s eyes.
Over in the potting shed, Matt says they’re choosing between two to go home. Mel asks if it’s her and Claire, and Matt tells her she would have been gone long ago.
Liesel is this week’s Star Baker, as well as Star Human for comforting James when everything seemed to go wrong, and Cheryl is going home. Come back next week for pies and tarts!
- As always, this is where you can find recipes from this week’s episode.
- #wildlifewatch: The first three shots this episode are of a spider, a kookaburra and a dog with a very large stick. Following on from there, we have the small bird I need to look up, a bee, a black and white bird that isn’t a magpie, and then I stopped keeping track.
- On the prominence of macarons in Australia: MasterChef has a lot to answer for. When I was at uni, one of my classmates from the US was seeing them everywhere and asked what they were.
- There were so many cuts to James’ disappointed face when the judges praised someone else’s work. That’s just cruel.
I had a lot of fun with this one. When Foxtel announced that they were shutting down Presto last week, I made it my mission to promote the most bizarre content in their library. I hereby present to you The Ant Bully. Nicolas Cage is a wizard ant. Meryl Streep is the Ant Queen. The main human character gets shrunk to the size of the ant in retaliation for trying to drown their home. His grandmother is obsessed with aliens. The exterminator tricks a 10-year-old into signing an extermination contract, which I’m fairly sure is illegal because he’s unable to pay for their services and the parents who have gone away for the weekend could refuse. I have never seen this film, I just got all of that information from Wikipedia.
Aside from The Ant Bully, there’s something for everyone. Stan has the Lego Brickumentary and the third season of Hannibal. Presto also has Carol, which is one of 2015’s best films. My determination to promote The Ant Bully meant I had to relegate Being George Clooney – a documentary about the men who voice George Clooney for foreign releases of his films – to the list section. Also, did you know there are at least 14 Land Before Time films? I remember watching them as a child, but I thought they stopped at 6 or 7. That could have just been something my parents said so we’d watch something else though.
Welcome to another year of The Great Australian Bake Off and my recaps. I have been blessed with #screenerprivilege for at least the first three episodes, so I can schedule these to go up as soon as the episode finishes. This week we have to fit in meeting the contestants, three challenges and one person going home. We’ve only just met them, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. On your marks, get set, bake!
I got to write my piece about Jane the Virgin, which unfortunately meant that the Justin Timberlake concert got cut. I don’t know if I’d have that much to write about a Timberlake concert though, so it works out. Season 2 of The Flash drops today, so I’ll probably watch some of it with my brother when he gets home. Also: Foxtel announced earlier this week that they’re folding Presto (the DeciderTV Slack Channel was predicting this the day before they announced it), but there are still some good things on there. I chose Hap and Leonard, and while Presto and I are going to have a strange relationship over the next few months, I’m definitely going to highlight some of the weirder stuff. Also I was really happy to be able to highlight Ava DuVernay’s 13th, because she’s one of my favourite directors and also a great role model.
I’ve wanted to write this piece since I watched all of Younger about six weeks ago, and I pitched it to Junkee the week before last. The piece is an introduction to the show as well as a commentary on female friendships on television. I’d really appreciate it if you checked it out, because I put a lot of work into it. Thanks to Meg for helping me out, working with editors is great.