Olivia: I love white bread. Screw this wholemeal shit.
BREAD WEEK! It’s my favourite week of the show, and today’s challenges look absolutely delicious. Mel is bready for puns. Noel likes wholemeal and wholegrain bread, but Olivia disagrees.
Olivia remembers that Monica’s Lady Marmalade joke made the cut last week.
Signature bake: Burger Buns
Liesel: If you don’t have a good bun, why have a burger?
Our contestants have to make 6 burger buns, along with a filling, so our judges will be getting bout 8 full meals on the first challenge. How do I apply to be designated leftovers eater?
Fiona is making a brioche bun flavoured with lemon and dill for her salmon and crème fraiche filling. I’m not a big salmon eater, but I would definitely try it. She’s had some issues proving the dough, so her buns are a bit dense. Other than that, the flavours are great, although Matt would like some more creme fraiche.
Noel is hoping that the addition of spelt will help his burger buns stand out. His beef patty and caremelised onion is accompanied with an avocado and garlic aoili. Maggie warns that too much spelt makes a dense bun. It doesn’t matter, Noel’s done a great job! The bun cuts easily, and the flavours all go well together.
After Mel accuses Noel of making graphic artwork with his vegetables, we go around the tent for some innuendo.
Monica has decided that making a hamburger from scratch isn’t enough work. In addition to a milk bun, beef patty, cheese and salad, she’s also making fries and a milkshake so it’s an entire meal. Fillings fall out of the bun as Matt cuts it (a good sign) and the judges love the flavour, but think it’s a bit too big to eat. Once again judges, no such thing. That’s what the paper from the fish and chip shop is for!
Jeremy‘s Fancy Burgers have a meat patty, brioche bun, and a spicy jalapeno sauce. Jeremy’s quite nervous becuase he’s never made bread before. Good luck Jeremy! His patties are ‘Jeremy Burgers’, which means he can only fit three in the hot plate at a time. You’re still doing this show right Jeremy, don’t listen to the judges. Jeremy’s brioche is a bit cakey, but the judges love the flavours.
Antonio‘s classic burgers have a beef patty, with cheese and home made tomato sauce (the best kind) inside a brioche bun. He likes the classic flavours, which is fine, but he also seems to think that bacon doesn’t go on a burger. This is news to me. Antonio is finished with a few minutes to go, and he’s worried that he hasn’t done enough. The brioche is a bit too dense and Matt would like more filling in there. Maggie thinks the meat is cooked well. One of the issues with this challenge is that there’s more focus on the burger than the bun.
Olivia seems to be taking Matt’s advice and is adding pineapple to her burgers. With a beef patty and white bun, her burgers are what she likes to cook on the barbecue at home. While Matt believes that an Australian burger should have pineapple on it, Olivia’s using tinned pineapple, which has the judges worried. Maggie gives feedback on the bread part of the challenge, which is that the bun needed a bit more proving, and Matt says the burger tastes great.
Just as Matt says he wants to see something a bit different, Liesel tells us she’s making German burgers! The bun is half rye with carroway seeds, and will be filled with chicken schnitzel, sauerkraut and mustard. I would like to eat this one, please. The judges love it! Maggie praises the bread, and Matt’s just a fan of the whole thing.
James is going for a Japanese themed hamburger! His nori (seaweed) bun will be filled with fried chicken, wasabi mayo and pickled vegetables. Matt says there’s too much bun (once again, that was the baking part of the challenge), and it’s a bit too dense. Fortunately it tastes great, and the flavour combination is good too. Matt’s decided to keep eating after he’s finished judging it, and that’s all that really matters.
Technical Challenge: Baguettes
These baguettes are a Maggie Beer recipe, so naturally the recipe includes figs, walnut and fennel seeds. Also verjuice, which is Claire’s beverage of choice this week. It doesn’t go so well.
This week in Claire tries something she shouldn’t: Verjuice!
As the bakers wait for their dough to prove, Olivia mentions it’s a mind game. The next Survivor immunity challenge should be making bread.
Mel, Claire and Antonio watch Australian Survivor as they wait for Antonio’s baguettes to bake.
From eighth to first: Noel, Jeremy, Fiona, James, Liesel, Monica, Olivia, Antonio. Noel makes an unintentional double entendre and everyone laughs.
Showstopper: Bagels and edible basket
For this week’s showstopper, the bakers need to make 12 bagels (6 sweet and 6 savoury) and an edible bread basket. They have four and a half hours, because they have a lot of proving to do. Maggie is glad that she’s not a contestant.
Fiona is aware that she’s in trouble this week, so she’s hoping her Japanese inspired bagels will get her through. She’s toasting sesame and poppy seeds (maybe more) in her frying pan, which is a good start. Her bread basket will contain six savoury Nori bagels with the seeds, and six sweet matcha tea bagels with read bean filling. I hope James gets to have some of the leftovers. The judges praise Fiona’s presentation, and Matt says her basket actually looks like a basket. The judges love her savoury bagels before they even try them, and Maggie waves one in front of Mel and Claire. They love it, and Matt says it’s the “essence of Japan”. Mel and Claire also take some time to sample the savoury bagels. They’re impressed. The sweet bagels are also delicious with the matcha setting off the red bean paste, so I think Fiona’s safe for another week.
Jeremy is a bit more confident coming into the showstopper. His sweet bagels will be filled with craisin (dried cranberry) and freeze-dried raspberries, and he’s making spinach and feta savoury bagels with pistachio paste. Yum. Matt is worried that the pistachio paste will overpower the other flavours. The savoury bagels are a little flat, but Maggie enjoys the dense and chewy texture. Unfortunately the sweet ones don’t work out as well, and they’re a bit too tough.
Antonio is being daring with his flavours again. His savoury beetroot bagels are bright, and he’s gone back to the booze with a rum and raisin sweet bagel. He has some trouble getting his basket off his tin, but Olivia helps him, and I think this is the first time we’ve seen relief on young Antonio’s face. The judges test Antonio’s basket, and it doesn’t fall apart when they lift it by the handles. His bagels are all very nicely glazed. The judges love the beetroot bagel’s dough, and the rum and raisin bagels are also a hit. Antonio could very well win back-to-back Star Baker.
Liesel is also making beetroot bagels with some thyme added for good measure, and a sweet spiced orange bagel with sultanas, which sounds delicious. Matt’s feeling generous today, so he suggests to Liesel that she add some sugar and vinegar to her beetroot. Then he makes a joke! “Sweet and sour – just like us.” Unlike Antonio’s beetroot bagels, Liesel’s have beetroot chunks, so they don’t get the colour of Antonio’s. Luckily Maggie enjoys the chunks of beetroot. Liesel’s sweet bagels are a bit flat and heavy, but the judges enjoy the flavour, saying it reminds them of Christmas cake.
Monica is going for a French theme with sweet strawberry bagels and savoury French onion bagels. Another reminder to not watch this show on an empty stomach. Matt asks if there’s going to be melted gruyere on the top of the French onion, which is something Monica hasn’t planned for. Monica appreciates the tip, because she loves cheese. Claire accuses Matt of disguising his requests as tips. The French onion bagels are delicious, and Maggie praises the addition of the cheese. The strawberry bagels are a little tough on the outside, but the flavour comes through, and her presentation is excellent, so Monica has done well.
Noel is making savoury onion and thyme bagels, and sweet cinnamon, orange and fig bagels. They sound like great flavour combinations and if it goes well, Maggie Beer will love the fig. He’s poaching the sweet bagels in Tasmanian leatherwood honey. How do I place an order? When he takes his bagels out of the oven, they’re stuck to the paper. I hope it all works out, Noel! James and Liesel help him out because everyone on this show is wonderful. The flavours on the savoury bagel don’t come through enough, and Matt says the sweet ones also lack flavour, but he also says it tastes like a hot cross bun. Mixed messages!
Little-known fact: Rihanna’s “Halo” was inspiredc by Maggie Beer 
really wants to try Fiona’s Japanese bagels, but he’s decided to focus on his own while he waits. His savoury bagels are flavoured with onion, garlic and fennel, and the sweet bagels are blueberry, white chocolate and vanilla. The onion bagels are a little bit too dense, but the judges love the blueberry ones.
Right now Olivia‘s bagels are the ones I most want to try. Her garlic bagels are poached in beer, and her sweet bagels will have cinnamon and brown sugar to give the impression of French toast. She poached them in molasses and maple syrup. All of these contestants should seriously consider opening bakeries and sell their bagels. Matt says the garlic bagels are some of the best ones he’s tasted, and describes the French toast bagel as “bloody good” – the most Australian compliment you can get. Maggie loves the crust and the sugar topping, so Olivia is in contention for Star Baker this week as well.
Olivia wins Star Baker again, and I’m looking forward to when she opens her bakery with those bagels. Jeremy is going home, and the elimination is easily my least favourite part of the show. They’re all so lovely! I will miss Jeremy and his wolf apron.
- If you’re looking for recipes, click here.
- One of the best burgers I’ve ever had is the snapper burger at Piggery Cafe in the Dandenongs. That was over 18 months ago, so the menu may have changed since then.
- Pineapple doesn’t belong on burgers. Or pizzas.
- Should we have a larger discussion on hamburger buns as a challenge? By requiring the contestants to make an entire meal, they’re not being judged on the baking as much as they would be for other challenges.
- Podcast fans: If you’re after a short discussion of the show, check out Tegan Higginbotham and Paul Verhoeven’s The Cooling Rack.
- Melbourne: where do you buy your favourite bagels? Leave a comment or contact me on Twitter (I am 100% serious about this).
- #wildlifewatch: WHO PLANTED THE AGAPANTHUS?
Agapanthus is a weed. Our bakers are lovely.
- All images courtesy of Foxtel, Fremantle Media and BBC Worldwide.