The Great Australian Bake Off, Season 3 Episode 10: Finale #BakeOffAU

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It’s finals week! Dave, Claudia and Barb are our top three, and there are only a handful of bakes between now and the end of the series. There’s not much fanfare at the beginning of the episode – the judges congratulate our finalists and then it’s onto the first challenge!

Signature Bake: Battenberg Cake

The bakers have three and a half hours to make a checkered Battenberg cake, which must have at least two flavours and a hard covering. Before they make a start however, the bakers meet in the middle of the shed for a hug – another demonstration of why this is the nicest show on television. We’re at the serious end of the competition, but there’s always time for kindness (see also: Paddington 2). And Mel and Claire always bring the levity.

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Claudia makes a citrus-themed Battenberg, with orange and lemon flavoured sponges, a key lime buttercream, and two kinds of marzipan: pistachio for the outside of the cake, and almond marzipan for her fruit decorations. At the beginning of the challenge, Claudia says some words to the camera about how great Barb is. Then Barb overhears and thanks her, because this is that kind of show. The judges love the flavours of the cake, particularly the key lime in the buttercream, and Maggie praises Claudia’s marzipan fruit decorations.

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Barb made a lemon and lime Battenberg, using small tins that save time when it comes to assembling the cake. The sponges are glued together with an orange jam, and the cake is decorated with marzipan, which is painted to look like a planter box and buttercream flowers. Barb gets the shakes towards the end of the challenge, and it almost looks like she won’t make it. The judges praise Barb’s flavours, but Matt says the sponges are a little too dense (he doesn’t bring this up later in the show which indicates this is a finale nitpick).

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Dave made a lemon and chocolate Battenberg cake and took it one step further, as he is wont to do. Instead of long fingers, Dave cuts his sponges into cubes, which he sticks together with buttercream. He covers his Battenberg with modelling chocolate, and makes buttercream sunflowers for decoration. The judges say that it looks amazing but there’s too much buttercream, which is a side-effect of using cubes instead of fingers.

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Technical Challenge: Kumquat Rum Babas

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A rum baba is some sort of Polish bun that’s soaked in a rum syrup, and it sounds delicious. I’d like to try making them one day. They’re made from an enriched, yeasted dough and need to be proved twice, so the bakers are busy for all three hours of this technical challenge. My favourite part of this challenge is when Barb brings Claudia and Dave some oranges for half-time and gives them a pep talk as she would her own netball team.

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Despite the half-time oranges, this was a tight challenge. So much of the baking time was devoted to proving the rum baba that the bakers had a lot to do in the last hour: bake the babas, soak them in the rum and citrus syrup, cool the babas in the freezer and add the chantilly cream and kumquats to serve. Dave decided to poke holes in his babas so that the syrup would soak through quicker, Claudia followed instructions, and Barb left them in the syrup for as long as possible, which meant that the end of the challenge was quite tight.

Dave is third because his Babas weren’t soaked long enough and there was too much cream, Claudia was second (not enough syrup), Barb came first. The judges emphasise that even though they have to give the bakers official places, there’s barely anything in it.

The next morning Matt and Maggie discuss who could win, and it seems like it’s down to Claudia and Barb before Matt says they can’t rule out Dave. It’s very close, so we’ll have to go to the showstopper.

Showstopper: Pièce Montée

Throughout the day we see the various stages of the finale picnic, which is always fun. There’s a sausage sizzle, plenty of baked goods and even a merry-go-round, so we get to see what Matt and Maggie get up to when they’re not walking around the tent talking to the contestants. We also see the Ghosts of Bake Offs (Bakes Off?) past, including this seasons eliminated contestants. One of the highlights of the season has been Chris and Barb’s friendship, and I’m delighted that Barb’s family has adopted Chris.

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Right, the showstopper. The bakers have four and a half hours to make a pièce montée – a stunning decorative centrepiece suitable for a grand occasion that also tells a story close to their heart. This was also the final showstopper challenge in series 5 of The Great British Bake Off. A pièce montée is traditionally made from choux pastry, spun sugar, nougatine and marzipan. The bakers must use at least four elements in their pièce montées, two of which are choux pastry and spun sugar.

Claudia‘s pièce montée is a cockatoo, because she likes the bird that gets a bad rap – Claudia painted cockatoos on her biscuit puzzle earlier in the competition. The cockatoo is made from choux buns filled with vanilla and chocolate, the wings are nougatine with rice paper feathers, the face from white chocolate and it has a pulled sugar crest. The cockatoo sits on a log of choux buns, which is topped with lemon myrtle marzipan, and is accompanied by a spun sugar nest. It looks amazing, and Maggie says she doesn’t want to take it apart – Matt does though. The nougatine is sticky which means it hasn’t been taken far enough but that doesn’t matter because the flavour is good. The judges love the marzipan with lemon myrtle, and appreciate that Claudia has used native flavours in her bake. The crispness of the choux pastry is fantastic – Matt says it’s some of the best he’s ever had – and the sugar on top gives it another texture.

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Barb‘s pièce montée is a treasure chest representing her time on Bake Off. The chest is made from nougatine, and is filled with lemon biscuits, a spun sugar nest and choux buns filled with vanilla and chocolate custards. The scene also includes choux seaweed, puff pastry sea creatures and a fondant floor. When the judges come to Barb’s bench, Maggie asks Barb who she’s most excited to see, and Barb says her daughters. Then Maggie makes Barb cry when she asks if she’s seen them at all throughout the competition. This may be the first time Maggie Beer’s made anyone cry on this show and it’s with kindness. Barb has to shape her nougatine chest while it’s still hot, and she does it with her BARE HANDS. Barb is a warrior. When she’s putting the chest together, the WORST THING happens – a piece of nougatine cracks. She takes a moment before gluing it back together with something edible. Claudia finishes her cockatoo early and helps Barb fill her choux buns. Barb thanks Claudia and says she owes her another piece of her soul. Is Claudia secretly the Devil? The judges say that the detail on the chest is fantastic, and that the nougatine is spectacular. When it comes to the crack, Matt says it’s just been on the ocean floor for a while. The nougatine is perfect, the lemon biscuits are great and they love the chocolate-filled choux buns.

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Dave workshopped his winning face with Mel and Claire at the beginning of the challenge, and this is what we got:

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Anyway, Dave lived next door to an oriental garden as a child, which he uses as his inspiration for the pièce montée. The tiered pavilion is made from passionfruit cake and covered with white modelling chocolate panels. It’s surrounded with cream-filled choux buns and sits on a river of spun sugar. The judges praise Dave’s intricate work and say that it looks amazing, but it could be bigger for a showstopper. Last time they said that to a contestant Chris made a giant trifle, so they’re lucky this is the final week. The judges love the fillings for the choux buns and praise Dave’s cake, which Maggie says gets better with each bite.

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The judges go to deliberate, and the contestants finally get to see their families for the first time in nearly two months. There are lovely clips of their family members saying what they love about them. Barb’s daughters didn’t think she’d make it past athe first round, and Claudia’s son is easily distracted. I thought he saw a puppy, but it turned out that he was describing Claudia as happy – which her daughter repeated for the camera.

And the winner is Claudia! I guessed Claudia about halfway through the season when I spoke to Robert, and I have a screenshot of our messages to prove it. Claudia’s a deserving winner, and I’m very happy with this result. Congratulations to Claudia and everyone else this season. It’s been a fun ten weeks and the online community around this show is one of the best. The show leaves us with an update on how the bakers are going, which is one of my favourite things (yes, they’re all my favourite things). I’ll speak to you all on Twitter next season, if not before.

Other thoughts:

  • My screeners expire in a week, so if you’d like any GIFs let me know on Twitter. Please tell me which episode, because as much as I love this show, I don’t want to watch the entire season again.
  • I can’t really think of anything else right now because I just got back from work and edited those GIFs. My mind is blank.
  • Once again it’s been a pleasure watching along with all of you, I’m looking forward to next season.
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The Great Australian Bake Off: Season 3, Episode 9: Celebration Week #BakeOffAU

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Dave: The last 8 weeks has been the story of Dave and his Star Baker Friends.

It’s nearly the end of the show, so the judges have decided to celebrate a week early. This week the contestants are baking foods to celebrate special occasions: Easter, Christmas and weddings! Thankfully no one sings celebrations, but we get a great dance from Claire.

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Signature Bake: Hot Cross Buns

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I went on a bit of a rant about hot cross buns last week because I’m that person in your life who doesn’t like dried fruit. I also used to work at Bakers Delight, so I have opinions:

  • The best chocolate chip hot cross buns are from Bakers Delight. That’s not bias speaking, bread dough shouldn’t have cocoa in it. If the supermarkets made chocolate chip buns with a regular spiced dough I’d buy them because I don’t have a lot of money.
  • I quite like fruitless hot cross buns but they need more spice.

Anyway, the contestants have two hours to make 24 hot cross buns. They can use any flavour combination, but the dough must be yeasted and will need to be proved twice. Maggie believes you shouldn’t eat hot cross buns before Good Friday, and my parents are also of that belief system. But when you do the closing shift at Bakers Delight the hot cross buns go to charity, so we’d take them home and keep them in the freezer.

Claudia makes a different kind of hot cross bun every year – without fruit peel, because her children don’t like those. Her ‘Boozy Bunnies’ have prune, apricot and orange zest mixed in the dough, and a chocolate rum ball in the middle. The judges love the presentation of the buns, but the dough is a bit heavy. Maggie loves the flavours saying that they’re complex but they marry together.

Barb‘s hot cross buns are filled with figs, walnuts and candied orange peel. She puts some loaf tins of boiling water in her proving drawer to speed up the process. Her hot cross buns are fluffy and Maggie loves the glaze. Unfortunately there isn’t an even distribution of flavours, but they taste good when they’re together.

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Dave made matcha and red bean paste hot cross buns using a traditional Chinese technique to keep moisture in the dough. His buns come out really soft, and he says “You can literally sleep on my buns if you want…. ohhhh, dirty!” It’s good to see that Dave is joining in the innuendo game. Matt describes the hot cross buns as “pure fluff” because they’re so light. The hot cross buns are different to anything the judges have tasted, but they love it. Maggie likes that they aren’t too sweet because the matcha has offset the sweetness of the red bean paste.

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Chris made the hot cross buns that I’d most like to eat: cranberry, white chocolate and cinnamon. I’m not big on dried fruit, but I don’t mind cranberry, especially if there’s chocolate involved. Chris mentions that he didn’t know where the cross came from, and I yelled “flour and water!” just before he explained it. One of my favourite things at the bakery was watching the bakers do the crosses on the buns, and I’m glad we get to see it here. Like Barb, Chris had an uneven distribution of fillings. Maggie would have preferred more fruit, but she loves the cinnamon, and the hot cross buns were nice and light.

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Technical Challenge: Mince Pies

This challenge was quite Christmassy; Mel is wearing Christmas colours this week, and the judges’ nicknames were Verjuice Mary and Joseph Moran. Claire calls mince pies the baked treat you turn to on Christmas when all the good stuff is gone, and I agree. Chris doesn’t like them either, so we’ve formed a little club. Just before he leaves the shed, Matt’s hints to the bakers are: seal well, I like even pieces, and make sure it’s sticky and fulsome.

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Mince pies date back to the 13th Century, when they were made with minced meat, fruit and spices. Now the mince refers to the fruit. There’s also a lot of brandy involved, and Claudia says it smells like Christmas. Chris has never made mince pies because he doesn’t like them, but Dave’s never had them before. He eats pudding or fruit cake at Christmas, both of which also have fruit and alcohol in them. It’s raining in the shed, so we know this wasn’t filmed at Christmas. Mel and Claire try some of Dave’s leftover fruit mince, and Mel spits it out because it’s disgusting – it tastes just like fruit.

From last to first, we have Dave, Claudia, Barb, and Chris. The next day, the judges say that there’s no one on the top or bottom. We’re at the semi-finals, and it’s too close to call.

Showstopper: Wedding Cakes

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If you don’t remember this wedding cake, it’s because it wasn’t on the show. My sister and sister-in-law got married a couple of weeks ago, and made their own cake (that’s who they are) and it took DAYS to make. I went over two days before the wedding for icing and fondant, and there were at least three days of baking before then. There was a six person cake crew, and my sister-in-law’s sister made those sugar flowers over FOUR WEEKS. The bakers have five hours to make a three-tiered wedding cake, and they all do a great job. Claire also brought (and possibly made) Matt and Maggie finger puppets:

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Chris’ wedding cake has three tiers – mixed berry and white chocolate, orange and poppyseed and chocolate and peppermint. It’s covered in buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers. The judges say it’s his most refined piece of work in the competition, and he’s come a long way in 9 weeks. The orange and poppyseed cake was delicious, but there wasn’t enough fruit in the berry cake and there was too much peppermint. The judges praise his presentation again at the end of the tasting.

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Claudia‘s Prince Regent cake has eighteen layers, one to represent each year of her marriage. The Prince Regent cake (which would normally take two days to make) is filled with alternating layers of vanilla custard buttercream, morello cherry jam, chambord ganache and almond praline. The top two layers are rum flavoured tree cakes, which are cooked in layers under the grill. The cake is decorated with marshmallow fondant and rice paper feathers and topped with lovebirds. Maggie says that the cake is beautiful and a showstopper. She loves the combination of the praline and the sour cherry and the cake is moist and luscious. Matt describes it as “absolutely superb” and they can definitely tell that there’s rum in the top two tiers.

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Barb wanted her wedding cake to reflect her personality: out there, a bit alternative and loud and proud. She’s also pulling out all the stops and making four tiers: date and rum, chocolate and bourbon, ginger, and carrot. The cake is decorated with buttercream and coloured candy melts. When the judges stop at Barb’s bench they mention that they can smell all the alcohol in her batter. Barb runs out of time when she’s decorating her cake, but she also gets some help from Claudia and Chris. Maggie says it’s definitely a showstopper, but Matt says it definitely looks unfinished from one side. The rum is definitely present in the date cake, but it’s not overpowering. Maggie says that the chocolate is a lovely strong flavour, and Matt says the ginger is his kind of cake.

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Dave says that looking at wedding cakes with his wife is how he got into baking. Then he made a floating wedding cake that would normally take three days and he’s won Star Baker, we don’t need to wait for the announcement. The bottom tier is raspberry, the middle is passionfruit and the top is lemon, decorated with Italian buttercream and modelling chocolate. Dave gets out his cake levelling tool to make sure it’s even – Mel and Claire joke about it, but the cake floats, so it had better be level. Matt says that in three years he’s never seen anything like it, and Maggie says it’s a shame to cut it open. The fruit flavours come through very well and are offset nicely by the buttercream. The judges praise the presentation again because it’s so beautiful.

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Dave wins Star Baker, which everyone knew would happen after he presented a floating wedding cake, and Maggie and Matt spend a lot of time deliberating who out of Chris and Barb will be sent home. Chris just misses out on the final, and it was a really rough decision. I can only imagine how hard that would have been, and Claire was crying when she made the announcement. Bye, Chris! It was great having you on the show and we’ll miss you next week.

Other thoughts:

  • #wildlifewatch: There was a rabbit today, but it looks like a domestic rabbit rather than a wild one.
  • My least favourite Bakers Delight slogan is easily the year they went with “Our buns are hot and cross, but our bakers are warm and happy.”
  • The day before Good Friday (Holy or Maundy Thursday in the Church) is known in the industry as “Bun Day.” It was one of my favourite days to work.
  • My least favourite part of hot cross bun season was getting chocolate all over my arms bagging hot cross buns.
  • When Mel said “Good luck” at the start of the showstopper, I expected the RuPaul “and don’t fuck it up” to follow.

The Great Australian Bake Off Season 3, Episode 8: British Week #BakeOffAU

Matt: it was a good sponge, it just didn’t move me.

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I wasn’t expecting British week until I looked up the episode guide on the show’s website, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s an appropriate theme that honours the humble beginnings of Bake Off, but perhaps it would have been better in the first half of the competition. The shed is decorated in British flags, Dave has a fantastic wave and I enjoyed Mel’s British accent, so British week is actually pretty good.

Signature Bake: Sponge Cake

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This week the show is making that up to Devondale for last week’s dairy-free challenge.This is also what I meant about the theme being better for earlier in the season. In British Bake Off they’re making sponges week one, which makes sense – Britain has a baking history that’s much longer than Australia’s due to colonialism (has anyone written this PhD? I would read it) – so it seems strange that our bakers are making sponges that need to have two tiers and a filling in week 8. This isn’t a knock on anyone, I would be a complete mess in the tent. The sponge needs to be filled because as Mel points out, there’s nothing worse than an unfulfilled sponge.

The first time I watched this episode I said that they broke the record for how many times they say butter in a minute so I’ll do a ‘butter tally’ for this challenge, at least until I get tired of counting. At the start of the challenge Matt says that a sponge isn’t just about the filling, “it’s also about that light buttery flavour,” so we’re already at 1.

Raeesa made a three layer lemon and poppyseed sponge filled with cream cheese and strawberries. Oh and there’s no butter, Rae used olive oil instead. She intended to make a Union Jack jaconde sponge around the outside, but it didn’t work so she put some on the top and decorated it with Bake Off bunting. The oil gave the sponge a good texture, but it didn’t have any flavour or richness that butter would have provided.

Barb looks amazing in her bowtie. She and Chris also have inverted colour plaid this week, and I love it. Oh, the cake? Barb made a tropical sponge with alternating orange and pineapple layers filled with passionfruit curd and marscapone cream. And yes, she’s used lots of butter. The judges say that it looks spectacular. Maggie was worried that it wouldn’t be airy enough with so many layers, but she was thrilled to be wrong. The flavours are great, even though Matt comments that it’s not particularly British.

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Claudia is making a German sponge that doesn’t have any butter. It’s a vanilla and raspberry sponge (she injects jam into the sponge), filled with custard and topped with poached rhubarb. The judges love the look of the sponge with the poached rhubarb which Claudia has fashioned into roses. The cake is spongy even without butter, which the judges aren’t missing thanks to the custard and rhubarb.

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Chris also used butter in his vanilla and chocolate sponges, which he filled with passionfruit buttercream and raspberry jam. The judges love the presentation of the sponge. The sponges are nice and light, and the only problem is that they can’t taste the chocolate in those sponges, and they were unnecessary. This is what I mean about the challenge being too simple for this stage of the competition, because Chris is over-thinking how to do well in this challenge. The judges don’t need four tiers (they were worried about Barb’s cake as well), they just want something simple done well, and when you’re in week 8, the expectation is higher than ‘something simple done well.’

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Dave made a royal sponge with a recipe that uses less butter and more eggs as well as condensed milk. It’s filled with strawberries soaked in ‘melon liqueur’ (I guess they couldn’t say Midori, like last week’s ‘dairy-free spread’/Nuttelex) and Italian buttercream. He also decorated the cake with buttercream dyed to make Wedgwood blue. The judges said that the sponge was buttery (there was a lot of buttercream), but the melon liqueur was too subtle and a jam would have been more appropriate.

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This was a fun little challenge. Dave brought out his tea set, and a few of the contestants tried their British accents (which I won’t comment on because I’m sure mine isn’t great). Most importantly, I counted the word butter and its variations 37 times between the judges, contestants and hosts. I counted the times buttercream was mentioned in Dave’s cake but I can’t remember whether I did that for Chris. Onto the next challenge!

Technical Challenge: Bakewell Slice

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Matt’s not-so-cryptic tips for this week’s technical are: an even base, perfect layering, a quick steady hand and a hot, clean knife every time. Matt would like the bakers to make a bakewell slice, while Mel would like them to make nachos. Unfortunately Mel doesn’t get them to make the rules. Back in the potting shed, Matt shows Maggie his bakewell slice, which has a biscuit base, raspberry jam, an almond filling and icing with a feathered pattern on top. When Mel and Claire go to Dave’s bench, they say that precision’s needed for this recipe, which is probably good for him, before teasing him about his top button being undone.

Barb cracks two eggs at once, and this GIF will be the subject of my next #JusticeForBarb meme.

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Dave’s nervously eating raspberries while he waits for his bakewell tart to well, bake, and Claudia and Raeesa have some tea.

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Raeesa decides to emulate Dave and gets out her ruler to measure her slices, while Dave is on the other side of the shed demonstrating his feathering technique. This was a fun challenge.

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From last to first we have Raeesa, Barb, Claudia, Chris and Dave.

The next morning Matt and Maggie have their conversation, and once again it’s too close to tell who will be going home pre-showstopper. Raeesa is in trouble, but as we saw with Claudia a couple of weeks ago you can go from the bottom of the technical to winning Star Baker. Meanwhile, Claudia and Barb are sitting pretty comfortably at the top.

Showstopper: British Pudding

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This challenge poses the question: how do you make a pudding a showstopper? The answer is somewhere along the lines of ‘give them four and a half hours to make it.’ When Maggie thinks of British pudding she thinks of lemon delicious (my favourite) and bread and butter pudding (I’d long stopped my tally at this point).

At the beginning of the episode Raeesa says that one of her favourite British bakes is spotted dick, so naturally she made a bread and butter pudding. There’s are two puddings – apple and walnut, rhubarb and blueberry – which she intended to decorate with miniature toffee apples and serve with custard and salted praline ice cream. The judges warn that she’s probably doing too much so she leaves off the ice cream, but there are still too many elements to the dish which makes it confusing. She didn’t need both puddings and it would have been better just to serve the one. Unfortunately the pudding is also burnt on top, and there’s too much bread to custard.

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Barb made a sticky date pudding in the shape of the London Bridge before we’re told it’s actually the Tower Bridge. It’s a bridge in London! Got it. The towers of pudding will be bridged with pecan brittle, decorated with candied pecans and served with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream. Maggie doesn’t like ANY of these things, and Mel points out that the only way to make it less appealing to Maggie is to put some chilli in it. Maggie hints that maybe Barb could add some ginger, and Barb knows how to take a hint. The judges love the presentation of the pudding and enjoy smashing the toffee bridges, calling it ‘great drama’. They both love the taste of the pudding, especially the addition of the ginger, and say it’s ‘undeniably British.’

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Claudia is the first baker to make a Queen of Puddings, which is something I’d never heard of before I watched this episode. It’s a layered dessert tht has a custard and breadcrumb base, a jam filling and meringue for the top layer. Claudia decorates her pudding with nougatine and cinnamon ice cream. When the judges come around, Claudia admits that she’s worried about the custard setting. The judges praise Claudia’s presentation and argue over who should wear the crown. You’re meant to eat it, not wear it! The custard set perfectly and the judges love the flavour. Matt says it’s very rich but that’s not a bad thing. He also says it’s a bit messy to eat, but it’s pudding! That’s how it’s supposed to eat!

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Chris made a three tiered tower of puddings with an apple and blackberry pudding base topped with two apple and raspberry puddings, which he decorated with berries and vanilla custard. He had trouble getting his puddings out of the tin, and when it comes to tasting the judges say that it’s too firm and has been overcooked – but that it doesn’t really matter when it’s smothered in custard.

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Dave is the other contestant to make a Queen of Puddings, which he’s decorating with a Union Jack pattern with fresh berries and serving with a whisky ice cream. The judges say that it looks spectacular and they can see the layers. They love the ice cream and the flavours are great, but the base is too dense. Like Raeesa, Dave’s bread to custard ratio was a bit too heavy on the bread, and it’s come out more like a custard.

Barb wins Star Baker this week, and I don’t know if it’s enough to make up for what happened two weeks ago when Claudia apparently came out of nowhere. Just kidding Barb has had a great week and I’m really happy for her and her bowtie. Raeesa goes home, and we’ll miss her in the last two weeks, she was always a joyous presence on the show.

Other thoughts:

  • I bought hot cross buns yesterday, and suggested that it would be a good signature challenge over on Twitter. Good news! I have it on good authority (it’s Robert) that the hot cross buns are next week’s signature. Once again I would have preferred this earlier in the season because there are so many bakers whose interpretations of hot cross buns I would have loved to have seen.
  • Last week I mentioned that I had a wedding on the weekend and I was helping with the cake. There were three tiers: vegan chocolate cake (I didn’t have any, there were quite a few vegans there), raspberry and white chocolate (this disappeared really quickly) and gingerbread with lemon buttercream, which was delicious. I had three pieces. I had a great day baking with friends, and there are some photos of the process over on my Twitter feed.
  • Most importantly my sister and sister-in-law are now legally married, and I’m house sitting for them while they’re on their honeymoon. Their wedding cake was decorated with rainbow colours, and my sister-in-law’s sister (is there a better way to say that?) learned how to make sugar flowers on YouTube. No, those flowers are not real.20180304_115353-746248610.jpg

The Washing Up Podcast

via The Washing Up: Mel and Claire for Star Baker w/Leah

The latest episode of The Great Australian Bake Off finished a couple of hours ago, and I had a great time as a guest on The Washing Up with Chris and Kristie talking Bake Off, Mel and Claire, #JusticeForBarb, the names of our cookbooks and several other non-Bake Off related topics. Chris and Kristie are wonderful, and I love the show and its fandom on a larger scale. Being able to have fun with other people who love Bake Off and have been on it is a pleasure. Or perhaps Layers of Pleasure.

We also had a chat about food privilege and I mentioned an article about the sort of food we see on Masterchef, which you can find over on Kill Your Darlings.

The Great Australian Bake Off: Season 3, Episode 7: Free-from??? #BakeOffAU

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Claire: Bessie’s teats go untouched today!

We’re back, and it’s free-from week! That means that certain ingredients or types of ingredients must not be used in each challenge, whether it’s dairy, eggs, gluten or sugar (they should really have a nut-free week, that’d stump a few of them). I’m going to a wedding this weekend (very excited), and one of the cake tiers is vegan. I think I know where the recipe’s from, so it should be delicious. Anyway, Mel’s been going around the park ‘stealing’ dogs to give to the bakers. Oh dear.

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Then Claire does interpretive dance because her email said Free-form week! I would watch that episode.

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Signature Bake: Dairy-Free Fruit Tarts

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The thing about this week’s bakes is that they’re fairly self-explanatory. The bakers need to make six fruit tarts that must have a filling, fruit and a glaze in an open pastry case. Matt would like the bakers to get creative with oils and coconut milk, and Maggie would like the pastry to be crisp and buttery without the butter.

Rae made fig and frangipane tarts. Her shortcust pastry substituted coconut and olive oils for butter, and it was decorated with fig and pomegranates. Raeesa may have put the glaze on too early, because it all soaked into the tart and the judges couldn’t see it. When he cuts the tart, Matt tells Rae that the pastry is brittle, pausing before he adds that it’s a good thing. Maggie says that the pastry is buttery, but the frangipane is quite dense – it’s a different texture without the dairy.

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Rob made lime and strawberry tarts. His pastry used vegetable shortening instead of butter, and they were filled with a lime and coconut custard. The judges are looking for something decorative after last week. Rob nearly ran out of time in this challenge, which affected his tarts. The pastry was blond, and they weren’t in the oven long enough to bring out the flavours of the lime and coconut. Most importantly, Matt said the magic words…

Ya basic

Dave made raspberry and chocolate tarts with maple syrup in there somewhere (probably the pastry), because we hear Dave say that he loves maple syrup. Me too! There is almond flour and coconut oil in the pastry, and Dave has made a dairy free dark chocolate ganache. He’s made this recipe before because his aunt can’t have dairy. At the end of the challenge Barb sees that Dave’s made seven tarts (just in case one doesn’t work out), and jokes that they were supposed to do eight. Matt and Maggie love the presentation of the tarts and say they’d buy them from a patisserie, but the flavours were too rich, which is an achievement without dairy. Unfortunately they were also a bit hard to handle because the pastry was crumbly.

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Chris mentions the infamous ‘soggy bottoms,’ which makes me wish that we had a pies and tarts episode this season. There are still three left, so it could happen. Anyway, Chris made lemon tarts. His almond pastry substituted lard for butter, it was filled with a lemon curd and topped with kiwifruit, blueberries and raspberries. Matt thinks kiwifruit is a bit ‘twee,’ which is a choice of words they should have unpacked more. The judges love the flavour of the curd and Matt doesn’t mind the kiwi, but the pastry was too thick and more like a biscuit.

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Claudia made tropical tarts. Her shortcrust pastry was made with non-dairy spread, the filling was a guava and coconut mousse dome (MasterChef’s favourite shape) surrounded by strawberries. Claudia had some issues with her mousse because she wasn’t sure how much gelatin to add. Matt tells her that he’d prefer soft over too firm and that ‘rubbery balls ruin the whole tart,’ which didn’t get quite the same reaction as his ‘symmetrical balls’ comment last week. The mousse is too firm, but Maggie loves the flavours of guava and strawberry together.

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Last week’s Star Baker in our hearts, Barb made raspberry and chocolate tarts. She substituted avocado for cream in her chocolate ganache and added some coconut oil and cointreau, saying ‘If in doubt, add more grog.’ Barb used pork lard as a butter substitute in the pastry, and the tarts were topped with raspberries, which apparently feel like nipples (Barb is the best. #JusticeForBarb!). The tarts had beautiful brittle pastry and the judges loved the avocado chocolate ganache, which they tasted during the challenge. Matt says it’s great and he can’t tell that it’s dairy-free.

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Technical Challenge: Gluten-Free Tiramisu

2018-02-27

This week’s technical challenge is Maggie Beer’s gluten-free tiramisu, and she’s looking for smooth edges and well-defined layers. She’d also like the bakers to ‘set and forget’. Over in the potting shed, Maggie tells Matt that she uses gluten-free flour for the savoiardi (I’m going with Barb and calling them spongy biscuits)and almond meal to make the amaretti biscuits. The syrup is coffee, quince and vino cotto, and the mousse is quince and vino cotto to give the tiramisu the Maggie Beer twist.

The bake is fairly uneventful, but there are a few highlights. Claire teased Dave about the length of his spongy biscuits saying that he’d measured them wrong, and Rob chanted “coffee” at the coffee machine. That clip was in the beginning montage and I wasn’t sure if it was for the bake or he really needed caffeine. Claudia says something about “layers of pleasure,” which Claire says should be the title of her cookbook. I would buy it. Raeesa put whipped cream around the whole tiramisu instead of just the top when she was decorating. When asked about it (she would have been first otherwise), she said she did a Rob: “panicked and threw cream at it.”

From last to first, we have: Dave, Barb, Claudia, Rob, Raeesa and Chris. Raeesa’s whipped cream cost her first place, but this is Chris’ first technical win! It’s also the first time I’ve remembered the order without writing it down (it gets easier as the cast gets smaller). Chris and Raeesa are both up for Star Baker, while Rob and Dave are in trouble.

Showstopper: Sugar-Free Trifle

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After two weeks of (signature) challenges I’d love to eat – sausage rolls and waffles – this week’s showstopper is one that I don’t really want to eat at all. At least they look fantastic. ANYWAY. The bakers need to make a trifle without refined sugar, and they do quite well with fruit nectars and other substitutes. The trifle must contain cake or biscuits, custard or a creamy filling, and jam or jelly.

Dave made a rose trifle with lychee jelly, almond dacquoise and rosewater cream topped with fresh raspberries. He used agar agar to set his jelly instead of gelatin because it can set in fifteen minutes. The judges warn that rosewater should be used with ‘great restraint’ – we all remember last year’s ombre cake challenge. Dave used coconut sugar and stevia as his sugar substitutes and learns that Maggie’s not a particular fan of stevia. The judges say that the trifle is refined elegance and love the texture. There’s a little too much rosewater for Matt, but it goes so well with the lychee and raspberry flavours that it doesn’t matter.

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Barb made a family friendly Christmas trifle, which means it’s alcohol-free as well as sugar-free. Her berry jelly is set at an angle, which she layers with blueberries, swiss rolls and crème anglaise. Maggie asks about the alcohol, but Barb is making a syrup instead. Everyone’s already had a few at Christmas lunch, there doesn’t need to be grog in the dessert as well. The judges reaction to the trifle’s appearance is simply ‘woah.’ It’s beautiful to eat and the jelly is excellent, but it’s drowned out a bit by the cream.

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Rob made a berry trifle with berry and cherry infused jelly (say that five times fast), date-sweetened custard and jam filled swiss rolls. He uses agave nectar as a sugar substitute in the jelly and sponge mixtures. The judges warn him that he needs to do something great to stay in the competition. Matt loves the wobble of Rob’s trifle, and they describe the jelly as ‘beautiful,’ but there’s a little too much custard.

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Claudia‘s trifle has figs, orange and mandarin jelly, cream and honey-sweetened custard. There’s grog in there somewhere, and Claudia used muscavado sugar and agave nectar as sugar substitutes. Maggie says it’s one of the most beautiful things she’s seen, and the judges love the mandarin and orange jelly. Once again, there’s too much cream. It seems that this group is a little too fond of cream, but they make great jelly, so does it really matter?

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Raeesa talks about how she’s always on fad diets, so she’s made things without sugar before. Her pineapple trifle has pineapple jelly, roasted pineapple, dried pineapple slices and some sugar work. Mel’s a Queenslander, so she’s drawn to pineapple like a moth to a flame. The judges say it’s stunning and beautiful. They love the layers and can tell just by looking at it that there’s not too much cream. They love the flavour of the pineapple with the coconut, and Matt says “kill me now,” so it must be pretty good. He then says that she’s nailed it, and Maggie thanks her for bringing them something so spectacular. It seems like we might have a new Star Baker in the group.

Chris made a GIANT Black Forest trifle (Maggie said his crepes were too dainty last week), which means this group has now made a black forest meringue, crepe cake and trifle. There are so many layers of vanilla and chocolate cake, cherry jelly, cream and custard that he’s written which layers go where on the container. The judges are shocked speechless, which might be a first for the show. The flavours are great, but the judges say that since it has custard it doesn’t need cream at all. Then the thing with the giant spoon and ladel happens so nothing else matters.

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Raeesa is Star Baker this week, and Rob is sent home. Farewell Rob, except I’m sure I’ll see you on Twitter. It was a pleasure to meet you in Perth a couple of weeks ago. Thanks for the cider that I practically had to scull before I went to a show.

Update on last week’s Star Baker choice:

#justiceforbarb

Other thoughts:

  • Yes, there will be photos of the wedding cake, which one of the participants is making themselves. I’ll also be house sitting for them next week, so there’ll be no live-tweeting but maybe cake. Definitely chickens.
  • I have a family member who is allergic to nuts, so there should be a nut-free week, because there are nuts in at LEAST one bake every week.
  • I forgot to take screenshots the first time I watched this episode, and all I remembered is that I wanted it to be Mel and Claire, but I couldn’t remember the moment. I thought maybe it was the Bootylicious thing, but I remembered when I saw one of them with the giant wooden spoon.
  • YA BASIC! Count: Technically 5, but I didn’t notice it last week.
  • The show I saw after I met Rob and Tash was an improvised film noir with detective Butt Kapinski, a character played by comedian Deanna Fleysher. See it if you get the chance. Then I went to a western comedy sideshow. Fringe festivals are a lot of fun.

The Great Australian Bake Off Season 3, Episode 6: Batter

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Heck yes. I am here for this theme. The preview shows both waffles and crepes, and breakfast foods are always welcome on this show. It’s also really good for puns. Chris mentions potato scallops, so this is probably a good time to reignite the potato scallops vs. potato cakes debate (I’m joking, it’s okay to have regional names for things, and the debate is stupid).

More importantly, a return to #wildlifewatch: Are these baby bin chickens?

2018-02-21

Side-note: I spent 10 days in Perth and had the opportunity to meet Robert and his lovely wife Tash so there will be at least one story about that in this recap. It’s two degrees of separation from Maggie Beer!

306 egg

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