David: It’s either going to work, or fail spectacularly.
We’ve reached the end of the season and our finalists are David, Dan and Sunny. There’s no funny intro this week, we’re just going straight into the episode, so I guess it’s story time for me. People may have seen me and some other people mention here and on Twitter that this season was filmed 18 months ago. If you want to know how I know that, I can tell you: I was at the finale, which I no longer have to keep secret. I was there with the season three bakers as well as Chris and Kristie of The Washing Up podcast, and it was a great time. I’ll put some small insights in as far as I can remember. I spent some time chatting to Don and Anston, who were lovely a. I remember seeing Annette and Angela around, but we weren’t introduced. I spent most of the time with the season three bakers, and it was great to meet some of the bakers from this season as well.
Signature: Dobos Torte
The signature this week is a dobos torte, and now that I know what it is, I’m 99% sure my mum’s friend made one for her birthday a couple of years ago and it was delicious. A traditional dobos torte has seven layers of sponge, chocolate buttercream filling and caramel on top with a fan decoration. The bakers have three and a half hours to make their dobos tortes, and Mel and Claire have a lot of fun saying it.
David made a chocolate and peppermint dobos torte with a chocolate sponge and a peppermint crisp buttercream. It had a cashew and pistachio praline on the side and was topped with what David called a ‘loose interpretation’ of a fan. David also let Sunny use his oven but warned her that there would be a points deduction at the end. When Matt and Maggie come over, they point out that his background in program management has been great for his timing. David says that he’s surprised himself with how well he’s managed his time, and Matt comments on how much his presentation has improved. When it came to judging, Maggie said the fan blew her away and she loved the gradated size of the pieces. Matt liked the ball of tempered chocolate in the middle, which Dave said should fit through the hole of the largest ring, which it did. Matt loved the layers and that he couls see the sponge. The crunch of the mint glass was very good. Maggie liked that the peppermint was sweet, but still contrasted the sweetness of the chocolate. Matt said that the crunch of the glass added another dimension to the cake.
Sunny made a chocolate and orange dobos torte with orange sponge and chocolate buttercream. It was covered with crushed pistachio praline on the side, and the fan was alternating arms of pistachio nougatine and tempered chocolate with orange popping candy. Sunny also used candied blood orange to decorate her cake, which came from her garden. She told us that she’d never made nougatine before, but got the idea from Don. When Matt and Maggie went to Sunny’s bench to talk about how well she had done, she became emotional and said she was just happy to be there. When she was putting the cake together Sunny said she wanted it to look like a sun. Maggie said it looked like an Aztec sundial and Matt liked the alternating fan. The cake was level and every layer was the same. The orange flavour was great and Matt loved the nougatine. The chocolate was beautifully tempered. The judges also said that the lightness of the sponge, richness of the buttercream and the flavour of the orange all went well together.
Sunny sprained her wrist from stirring so much in this challenge. Matt hoped that for some reason baking had become a contact sport and Sunny had taken out one of the other bakers.
Dan’s dobos torte was titled “Let’s Celebrate.” It had two tiers of vanilla sponge with alternating layers of raspberry and champagne buttercream. It was covered in mirror glaze, topped with a toffee and sponge fan with almond flakes around the side. He also used raspberries and edible gold as part of his decoration. Matt and Maggie ask Dan how his partner feels about him being in the finale and Dan says he’s excited. When it comes to judging, the judges say taht the layers look great, but the mirror glaze is a little thin and they can see the buttercream through it. Maggie suggests to Dan that his decision to do two tiers pushed him for time. The judges said the flavours were beautiful (the raspberry was superb) and the texture is great. Their feedback for Dan for future challenges was not to overstretch trying to be bolder, instead focus on doing every part perfectly.
Technical: Mont Blancs
Wait, they have to make pens for the technical challenge? Oh, there’s also some sort of cake called a Mont Blanc. Oh well. Anyway, this challenge was a Matt Moran recipe, and as usual the hints were bizarre:
- It’s a mountain, not a mole hill
- Patience and a steady hand
Matt says this is a real challenge because there are so many techniques. Once again, Maggie is desperate for Matt to give her the food. They’re really not feeding them this season, are they?
The weirdest part of this challenge was that Sunny and Dan didn’t know how to make a shortcrust pastry. I guess it’s a weird side effect of all the puff pastry they’ve made that they haven’t learned how to do a shortcrust.
Mel and Claire give their interpretation on soft and stiff peaks:
David’s mont blancs were neat and beautifully piped. The pastry looked good, but when the judges checked underneath, it had popped in, which David mentioned he was trying to avoid when he lined his pastry cases. When they cut it open, Matt said that the frangipane was thick, the cream was a little soft, but the mousse looked great. The mont blancs were good eating, and the flavour of the chestnut, chocolate and cream together was delicious.
Sunny’s mont blancs were a little bit messier than the other two as the piping wasn’t as steady. Sunny chose not to use the turntable. The pastry was cooked more than Dan’s. When the judges cut into it, they said the pastry was nice and crisp and the mousse looked really good. Matt loved the salt hit from the caramel and everything went well together.
Dan’s mont blancs were the neatest of the three and there was lots of definition in the layers. It was good eating, but the caramel was almost burnt and had a little too much bitterness for Matt. There’s every possibility that Maggie liked the bitterness and that comment was cut out.
From last to first, we have David, Dan and Sunny wins the final technical for the season!
And we have our final time lapse gif of the season!
Showstopper: Geometric Cake
When we come back for the showstopper, they’re already setting up for the picnic! At the Judges’ tea time, Matt, Maggie, Mel and Claire discuss how the bakers have gone so far. Sunny has had an exceptional week and her signature was fantastic. Maggie reiterated that Dan keeps pushing himself and if he’d stuck to one layer for the signature, it would’ve been perfect. They also said that the technical was very close. David’s flavour combinations were fabulous and the judges said his presentation in the signature was beautiful.
A geometric cake is a cake that uses a geometric pattern to create an illusion. Claire mentions a bunch of shapes and then calls the geometric cake the “maths club nerd of the cake world.” The bakers could use as many flavours and fillings as they wanted, but the cakes needed to have three tiers and be an edible work of art. They had four and a half hours to make their cakes.
Sunny made a stairway geometric cake with three offset cubes made from a vanilla and cacao nib cake. The layers were filled with raspberry jam and caramelised white chocolate ganache. It was decorated with Swiss meringue buttercream and a geometric staircase made from marshmallow fondant. Sunny’s mum, siblings and friends came to support her at the finale, and she was very emotional upon seeing her mum.
Here’s what I remember from Sunny during the final challenge: she seemed completely calm from a distance and it never looked like she was in trouble. I also remember Anston saying that she was the most consistent baker throughout the season.
Maggie loved the finesse and playfulness of Sunny’s cake, especially the staircase. Matt said it cut really well. The raspberry sang because it wasn’t sweet. The judges let Sunny know that the white chocolate and raspberry make the cake, while the cacao nibs are almost a distraction and didn’t need to be there. They tell Sunny that she should be proud.
Dan made a white chocolate mud cake with apple and cinnamon flavours. When Matt and Maggie ask Dan what he’s using to offset the white chocolate, he holds up pink ladies as if he’s advertising for them. When he tells the judges that he’s using cinnamon, they asked if he remembered spice week. He said that he used teaspoons instead of tablespoons. Dan’s hexagonal tiers were filled with white chocolate ganache and decorated with white chocolate squares and edible rose gold dust. Dan’s partner, sister-in-law and friends came along to cheer him on.
I tasted Dan’s cake, thanks to Michelle from last season grabbing a piece. It was delicious, but I mostly remember the gold dust getting everywhere.
When Dan brought his cake to the judges, Maggie said all that glitters is gold. They commented that it looked antique, and Matt said it feels like mardi gras. Maggie congratulated Dan on balancing the cinnamon and said that the apples have balanced out the white chocolate.
Claire points out that Dan’s cake doubles as a crown in case he doesn’t win:
David made a raspberry and white chocolate mud cake for his bottom tier and salted caramel mudcakes for his top two tiers. The cakes are filled with white chocolate ganache and a white chocolate buttercream flavoured with apple cider. The feature of the presentation is an abstract grid design made of fondant on the middle tier. David was focused on getting the cakes done quickly so he can dedicate time to presentation. He puts his cake in the fridge so it has time to cool. David’s parents, sister, wife and daughter are there to cheer him on and his daughter is adorable. Hi Harper!
About three quarters of the way through the challenge (we arrived about halfway through), David opens the fridge to get his cake and the top layer had slid off in the fridge. He didn’t want to put the cake forward without the top layer, so he made it again. His excellent time management skills are what allowed him to do so, even though that meant his presentation suffered.
I didn’t know that David’s cake collapsed while it was in the fridge, I only heard about it (I think from Chris Asquith’s brother) afterwards. We were towards the judging end of the shed, and when I stood up to watch I could only see Dan and Sunny. Sunny seemed completely calm and Dan was a whirlwind of glitter. I did notice that David seemed stressed and now I know why.
Matt said that the cake looked like a formula one trophy, but slightly unfinished. David explains that he needed to remake the bottom tier. When they cut into the cake, they said it was very soft. The raspberry against the white chocolate was beautiful and lush, and Matt said it was one of his best cakes. The caramel was like butterscotch but toastier because it had been baked, and Matt said he should be proud of his efforts.
The guests arrived halfway through the challenge and our first talking head is of Dennis, who said that he was nervous that he had to bake when he drove up, but he’s now relieved that he doesn’t have to. I’ve missed you, Dennis! We see familiar faces from this season and previous, as well as some excellent burgers. I was waiting in line for burgers with Chris Asquith when Don came up and started talking to him. That’s when I found out that he came fourth.
Towards the end, Matt and Maggie have their discussion of how they went. Matt said that David’s cakes were two of the best they’d ever had, but his presentation let him down. Meanwhile, Sunny’s cake looked fantastic, but the cacao nibs were unnecessary. And Dan as usual has done a stunning job. Matt and Maggie said that this was the first time they haven’t had a clear winner in mind.
When it comes to the announcement, Sunny won! Congratulations Sunny, I didn’t realise how close it was on the day.
- The epilogue is always delightful, and we now know why Matt looked so upset while he was gardening. He didn’t even get the job!
- I mentioned a few weeks ago that Robert Harwood expressed the difficulty of finding canele moulds. Well he managed to get them at the finale as they were selling off all the used baking goods. He was excited about them for the entire weekend and I still didn’t know what a canele was until I watched the episode they were featured in this season.
- Monica Cavallaro (season two runner up and excellent person) made marshmallows as treats for the finale and they were amazing. The raspberry lemonade ones were the best. Pro tip: Bakers make very good friends.
- Special thanks to Chris and Kristie of The Washing Up for getting me an invitation to the finale. Listen to their podcast if you haven’t already. Their interview with EP Nicole Rogers is excellent, and the Verjies are coming up soon, you won’t want to miss them. They also have quite a few interviews coming up with the contestants. They were a little pressed for time as they were covering both Australian and Canadian earlier in the season.
- There’s a lot I haven’t written about my experience of my finale long weekend. That will come in a separate post later this weekend. However Chris and Kristie did briefly talk about parts of the weekend when they covered MasterChef last year. Mainly karaoke.
- But here’s what I’ll say briefly: going to the finale and meeting Chris, Kristie and my now housemate Gabby was what planted the idea of moving to Sydney *ahem* miscellaneous city into my mind. Then this season premiered exactly a year after I moved.
- Let me know if you have any gif requests over the weekend for any of the last four episodes. Request them over on twitter.
- As far as I’m aware, I’ll be recapping next season as well. I don’t know, it hasn’t filmed yet. Recapping this season has certainly been pretty stressful since I’ve had other commitments on Thursday nights. We’ll see when we get there.