We’ve had generalist cooking shows galore this year, so how will a show about just baking fare?
Shane and Anna welcome us to the show as well as the judges (Dan Leopard & Kerry Vincent) before we have a sneak peak of the contestants- ‘this country’s top home bakers’.
We are told that every week, they will undergo three challenges- the signature bake, a challenge that asks them to bake something that symbolises them; the technical bake, where they will all be given a recipe that has bits missing from it; and the showstopper, the ultimate test of creativity, skill and ambition.
Every week, one baker will go home with one other being crowned star baker of the week. The winner of the entire season will get a holiday and an appliance package. This series doesn’t look as bad as it sounds.
Today, the will be focussing on cake. The contestants roll up to the marquee for their first ever challenge. The judges and hosts enter the room after they get set up at their benches. Their first challenge is a ‘signature cupcake’ challenge. They must make 24 of these cupcakes, twelve of one flavour and twelve of another. They will have to be consistent in both size and texture. They will have two hours.
The judges go to visit Monique, a younger brunette girl who doesn’t have hot water in her Adelaide home. She runs a retro lemonade van and was a WNBL player. Kerry notices her lack of skill with some of the equipment but Dan sees her enthusiasm. She will be making strawberry and lemon curd cupcakes.
Steve is a rugged boxer and stone mason. He is making some healthy, flourless cupcakes- some with orange and some coffee & whisky flavoured. Meanwhile, teacher Sara-Jane is nervous about the challenge. Kerry is worried her cupcakes will be too watery.
Nancy is nervous about filling the cupcake tins as her sister usually does it. One woman, Julie, is making some nutty cupcakes. Dan is worried the pistachio nuts she is using won’t bring enough flavour.
Steve Jacobson is excited about Mark’s orange zest cupcakes.
When the cakes come out of the oven, most of the contestants only have half an hour left to decorate. Sara-Jane has had an overfilling accident, meaning her cupcakes look more like muffins.
Monique is worried her lemon curd has curdled, so she starts again. And then, the worst happens- bubbly blond celiac disease sufferer Bliss drops two of her cupcakes. Luckily she made extras however when she tastes them, she realises they’re a bit underdone.
Soon, their time is up and it’s time to judge. Monique only serves one of her vanilla & Rosewater butterfly cupcakes.
The judges taste two of each cupcake type from the contestants. First up are Nancy and her Lemon-filled lavender cupcakes and Vietnamese Coffee Cupcakes. Dan calls the Vietnamese cupcakes ace, but Kerry doesn’t like the flavour of the other variety.
Next is Bliss and her White Chocolate & Passionfruit Cream Cupcakes and Flourless Choc Hazelnut Cupcakes. Dan thinks they’re really good and sticky. He wishes the icing had richer colour.
Monique is next with her chocolate & lemon curd cupcakes and one vanilla & rosewater butterfly cake. Dan loves the combination in the butterfly cake but Kerry wanted more.
Next is Mark and his Rose-flavoured buttercream swirl cupcakes and orange & grapefruit curd cupcakes. The judges are wowed but Kerry thinks the frosting is overkill.
Brendan is judged afterwards. He has raspberry marshmallow cupcakes and peanut butter Rocky Road cupcakes. Dan likes where it’s going and Kerry thinks it is good stuff.
Julie presents her spiced pumpkin cupcakes and pistachio & Rosewater cupcakes. Kerry calls it doughy and says she can’t taste the pistachio. It’s bland. Dan however loves the pumpkin ones.
Maria presents Coffee, Chocolate & Hazelnut Cupcakes and Passionfruit Cupcakes with White Chocolate Ganache. Dan thinks they look beautiful but he can’t taste the passionfruit. They love the icing on the chocolate cupcakes.
Sara-Jane has coconut cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream and spiced chocolate & pear cupcakes. Kerry likes the set up. They are impressed despite the fact Kerry doesn’t get excited too often.
Steve presents his Coffee & whisky cupcakes and flourless orange LSA cupcakes. Dan thinks he has knockout flavours but Kerry doesn’t like his decorating.
Finally, we reach Jonathan and his Cherry Cheesecake cupcakes and banana & peanut butter cupcakes. Kerry notices some structural flaws. Overall, he’s hit a home run.
We’re told at the end that Sara-Jane & Jonathan are ‘on the rise’ while Nancy & Monique are ‘falling flat’.
With challenge one over; we head to the technical bake. Today, the recipe is a chocolate and orange chequerboard cake. The cake has an intricate and precise structure- however they won’t be told how to make EVERY element! The judges will be judging this round blind, so they go behind the scenes to show what a proper chequerboard cake looks like. Doesn’t look easy.
The contestants seem to know that they have to make two separate sponges- chocolate and orange. Brendan is having trouble fitting all the sponges in the oven. Maria is doing OK, but she’d prefer there to be some music.
Bliss’ chocolate mousse will not set. Jonathan is making his chocolate Ganache a little differently than usual, but will it work to hold the chequerboard together?
When the contestants begin the alternating their layers, they only have a few minutes. Some cakes are underdone while Steve thinks he’s done it completely wrong. Panic is clearly setting in. All of a sudden, Mark’s cake begins to collapse. It’s tragic. It all happens in slow motion!
When they’re done, they have to place their cakes on a table with their faces (printed on card) turned from the judges. Once tasted, the judges have to rank the cards in order of their least favourite to favourite cake.
Brendan’s cake is praised relatively well. Sara-Jane is criticised for all of her Ganache. Maria’s cake holds together really well and Kerry likes the Ganache. Steve’s cake has chequerboard, but not enough for Kerry. Bliss’ cake ticks a lot of boxes. Monique’s cake also looks good. The cake however is not sweet. Jonathan’s cake has good shape however the outside chocolate lining is not good. Julie’s cake lacks Ganache. Mark’s mini cake is likened to pudding. His reaction gives it away that it’s is cake. Lastly is Nancy. Her cake looks fantastic. And it has good flavour.
Ranked, the judges decide the order from worst to best goes from… Mark, Steve, Sara-Jane, Julie, Jonathan, Bliss, Monique, Brendan, Maria and Nancy.
The next day, the contestants head into challenge three- the showstopper!
Their challenge is to bake a children’s party cake. They have five hours to do this cake! Nancy is doing a Ballerina Pillow Banana Cake. She is doing it as an ode to her sister. Julie is making a Honey Hive Cake. Mark is planning a Chocolate Mud Cake with Plum Syrup. Steve is confident with his banana sandstone castle cake. Brendan will be doing a flavoured rainbow cake. Sara Jane is also doing a ‘very vanilla’ rainbow cake. Jonathan is doing a 3D Rocket Cake on a carved half-moon. Kerry is surprised at the presence of alcohol in it. Maria is doing a Magical Butterfly garden ripple cake. Apparently, if a blue eyed person looks at her cake, it will be a disaster. Brendan is on the case!
Monique is doing a Pool Cake. She isn’t happy that her cake is dry so she starts again. So far, everyone else is on time. Some contestants are rolling fondant. Julie gets emotional as she believes her grandmother is watching over her.
Brendan has finished and is mocking the other competitors.
At the end of cooking, some of the contestants’ cakes look awful while some are looking quite glam. Monique is first with her pool cake, complete with Rhonda & Ketut! Dan calls it delightful, saying there is heaven in it. Kerry appreciates it.
Next is Brendan and his cake comes complete with markers to write on the fondant. Kerry isn’t impressed by the look of it, but is wowed by the rainbow layers. There’s not much flavour. Sara-Jane’s cake is a bit unimpressive. The flavour is great. Julie’s cake is loved by the judges, who call it charming.
Maria is next and the judges think it looks amazing. Kerry says it has the best flavour thus far.
Jonathan’s cake looks impressive but Dan likes the appearance more than the flavour. Steve comes up and his cake is blasted for its lack of its appearance to a castle and how overcooked it is.
Bliss comes up with her princess cake. They like the concept but Dan says it is rough. Kerry calls the icing gritty and Dan says it is heavy on the crumb.
Mark’s cake is unimpressively ugly but they love the aroma and flavour. Nancy’s cake is sweet but delightful. Kerry thinks it is unfinished. It’s not Kerry’s favourite banana cake. This upsets her. Now, who will go? Who will be the star baker?
The star baker is… Maria!
The person going home this week will be… Steve.
With nine left, who will be eliminated next?