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

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


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.


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

Streaming Guide March 2 – March 8

via What’s New In Streaming For The Next Seven Days — DeciderTV

Every once in a while you get to write about two shows you love at once, and this week that was Marvel’s Jessica Jones and The Games. There’s so much TV coming back. I’m still behind on Atlanta and The Good Fight, which seems strange given that Community and The Good Wife were once my favourite comedy and drama on television respectively. Thanks to SBS we’re getting them relatively quickly, but there’s too much TV!

In other news, I’ve seen the first two episodes of Jessica Jones and I love it. I’d especially like Trish to become Hellcat because Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat! is a delightful comic. I realise that if that does happen it’ll be nothing like the comic, but it’d be great. Let’s do that one. I’m not sure at this stage, but I think this season is set pre-Defenders – then again I’ve only seen two episodes. Until next week!

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.


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…

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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


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:


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.

Streaming Guide February 23 – March 1

via What’s New In Streaming For The Next Seven Days — DeciderTV

The Olympics are nearly over, which means it’s time for all the shows to come back! I haven’t seen any screeners for this week – I got back from Perth on Sunday evening, and I still haven’t figured out how to get back to East Coast hours. I had a great time at Perth Fringeworld, and I might write something about it in the coming week. ANYWAY: there are new or returning shows on all of the major streaming services, and I can’t very well highlight UnREAL without also highlighting Arie’s season of The Bachelor. I’m interested to see what happens in the new season of iZombie, which distinguished itself as an unconventional zombie show but pointed towards the more conventional route by the end of season 3.

I got dates for March the other day, and I was going to do the spreadsheet today but I watched figure skating instead. Anyway, there’s a lot to look forward to.

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?


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!

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