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The Great Kiwi Bake Off

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I'm so excited about the new Kiwi version of the Bake Off! The location is beautiful so I hope we get lots of outdoor shots.

On a shallow note, I would never to think to wear a turquoise sundress with a black leather motorcycle jacket and sneakers. Whenever I see people like one of the hosts wearing an outfit like that, I always wonder how confident you must be to see those three things and think, "Yes, I should wear them all together at the same time!"

I always love how the first episode is a softball so that the bakers don't freak out too much. Cupcakes is one of the easiest things, which is a good thing since some of the bakers couldn't figure out how to turn on their ovens (and I'm not judging - there's always a learning curve when you're in a new kitchen.

I like that the bakers are allowed to make whatever they want. I hate on other shows when two people can't make the same thing. Let them make whatever they like and we'll see whose is the best! I loved that both judges tried all of the cupcakes with forks. I can't blame them for not wanting to get their fingers sticky with 24 kinds of icing!

Stacey the body builder aka the one with the blue hair was a bit on the nose with her cupcake dress for cupcake week. I wasn't sure how her vanilla almond cupcakes counted as ice cream sundaes. Later they were described as mixed berry cupcakes so I was even more confused! Judges, let me be clear - there is no such thing as too much frosting on a cupcake. I didn't like that her salted caramel cupcakes with swiss meringue buttercream frosting had caramel dripping down the outside of the cupcake wrappers. I love salted caramel sauce but not everyone wants to get their hands totally sticky.

Jennie the dietician looks so much like Rose McIver at certain angles. Her beetroot red velvet cupcakes with vanilla bean cream cheese icing and candied beet crisps sounded good. Her coffee maple walnut cupcakes looked good too. I'm glad that she was able to show the judges that using different ingredients like beetroot can be good too!

Shannon the IT guy's cupcakes with rhubarb buttercream filling and custard topping looked great. Loved that one of the judges said that he likes a sharp lemon curd. His lemon and passionfruit cupcakes topped with meringue looked a little messy.

Hannah's maple, pecan, and cardamom cupcakes looked so great because of the sugar shards. I liked the slice of candied orange on top of her orange cupcakes with chocolate butter frosting.

Clayton is one to watch because of his decorating skills, but I knew that his dulce de luche Banoffee pie cupcakes were in trouble when he decided to use canned dulce de leche. Using premade stuff is like the kiss of death on Bake Off shows!  I did like the chocolate butterfly wings he made for the dulce de leche cupcakes though. His lemon sunflower cupakes with passionfruit buttercream were also very pretty.

Ana's maple bacon cupcakes looked nice. I love candied bacon too. Her lemon meringue cupcakes looked good.

Larissa the mechanical engineering student made some smart choices with decorating. Her cupcakes themselves weren't that fancy looking, but by using pink cupcake liners for the tiramisu cupcakes and adding cocktail umbrellas to the piña colada cupcakes, she managed to make a platter full of neutral colored cupcakes look bright and colorful. Her piña colada cupcakes with caramelized pineapple chunks and lime looked fun. Her tiramisu cupcakes with coffee cream filling and swiss meringue buttercream sounded good.

I loved seeing Annabel's grandmother's recipe book! Her raspberry coconut cupcakes were so beautiful. I loved the buttercream rose she piped on top of each cupcake Her tiramisu cupcakes with mascarpone topping looked nice too. The chocolate shards gave them some height and drama.

Jeff the flight attendant's tiramisu cupcakes with coffee cream filling and buttercream icing were pretty. I liked that he torched his topping. His raspberry lemon cupcakes looked nice too. I agreed with the judge who said that they looked like they could be in a shop window.

Vanessa's lime and coconut cupcakes with lemon curd sounded good but we didn't get to hear about those. Her vanilla cupcakes with raspberry buttercream looked like classic cupcakes. I was with the judge who asked why she put a maraschino cherry on top of each one. Don't get me wrong - I love those cherries too, but it did seem like there should be a fresh raspberry on top of the raspberry frosting, not a maraschino cherry.

Sonali's stout cupcakes with Bailey's Irish cream frosting and chocolate whiskey sauce are definitely the party cupcakes. It's too bad that her icing was gritty. Her lemon curd cupcakes topped with meringue were beautifully torched. I thought it was interesting that the judges said Sonali thought outside the box with her flavors. Beer cupcakes with Irish cream frosting were everywhere about five years ago.

Joel the landscaper and rugby player's lemon cupcakes looked nice. I liked the lemon curd inside too His red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting looked nice too. I totally cracked up when he said that his rugby mates don't know he bakes and the hosts pointed out that he's on television now.

No technical challenge? Noooooooo!

Children's birthday cakes are another softball challenge so I was excited to see what the bakers created but there were some major disasters. The Kiwi episodes are the same length as the British ones, so how do they not have enough time to show a technical challenge?

Poor Larissa. I felt bad for her when she dropped one of her cakes on the floor. I was confused when she Frankensteined a small layer together.  Was that from the cake on the floor or did she bake another one? When she said that she was making a rabbit garden cake with hummingbird cake, lemon poppyseed cake, and fondant carrots, cabbages, and broccoli, it made me wonder if she knows any kids. I don't know many who would want a pastel cake with fondant vegetables.

Annabel's buzzy bee cake with chocolate cake, honey cake, and sugar wings was such a simple but fun idea and she executed it well.

Stacey's rainbow ice cream drip cake was the best of the four ice cream cakes. It was bright, colorful, and covered in sprinkles. It was well made and kids would love it. My quibble was that the cake layers inside were not in  regular ROYGBIV order. Red goes at the top or the bottom, not in the middle!

Shannon's ice cream sundae cake with chocolate mud cake and rice krispy ice cream scoops was a mess. The bottom looked really terrible, but the ice cream scoops really looked like ice cream.

Jeff's ice cream tantrum cake with pistachio cake and mandarin cake was such a mess, both inside and out. The layers didn't hold together when they tried to remove a slice. The outside was too slapdash.

Ana's ombre ice cream cake with raspberry cake was pretty and the sprinkle center is very popular right now (and such an easy way to make kids go "OOOOOH!").

Jennie's igloo cake with marshmallow bricks and vanilla cake was a fun idea, but the fact that she used store bought/premade marshmallows (for the bricks), icing (for the penguins), and lollipops (for the surprise inside the cake) was a huge problem for the judges. I thought it was interesting that one of their concerns was that kids wouldn't be interested in a white cake. I thought the igloo and penguins were cute enough that kids would like it despite the lack of color.

Joel's volcano cake with chocolate mud cake was a fun idea. I loved the orange sugar shards for the flames.

Clayton's dinosaur slide cake chocolate cake and rice krispies was a fun idea but it looked a bit rough in execution. I think it was mostly that the red frosting looked really lumpy. I agree that using too much marshmallow with rice krispy treats takes away the crispiness. I think kids would love it though. Parents should be warned that if their kids eat that bright red frosting, they should expect red poop for the next day.

Sonali's lime and blueberry under the sea ombre cake was adorable. I loved the way she piped the turquoise icing to look like water and the octopus on top was so cute. Kids would love the colored layers inside too.

Vanessa's vanilla and raspberry unicorn cake looked like every other homemade version of unicorn cake on pinterest. I am all for the judges giving positive comments, but complimenting the colors when most unicorn cakes (which are ubiquitous these days) use the exact same color scheme and saying that the design is amazing makes the judges seem either woefully ignorant or insincere.

Hannah's mermaid cake with chocolate cake, boysenberries, raspberries, and marshmallow buttercream looked a little messy.  Once again, I feel the judges make themselves look either disingenuous or completely uninformed when they say things like a mermaid tail sticking out of the top of something is clever. Maybe it was a few years ago but now you can buy mermaid tail molds in any size on amazon because everyone puts them on cupcakes, cakes, smoothie bowls, etc. That's not a knock on Hannah for doing it though. It's more an issue I have with the judges either not keeping up on current trends or being fake.

Congratulations to Annabel for being the first Kiwi star baker! I was surprised that Jennie was sent home instead of Jeff or Shannon.

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Despite how beautifully sunny it looks, it must be really cold because I could see one of the girls' breath when she was singing at the beginning of the episode. Brrr!

I might be super picky but I would not want to make caramel in a dark pan because it would be harder to tell how dark the caramel was getting before it burned.

Awwww, I loved how all the bakers applauded each time one of them successfully turned their pineapple upside down cakes out of the pan. I also loved all the high fives when time was called. I was relieved when Shannon managed to get his out without a problem even though he was the only one who didn't line the tin with parchment paper - and then he dropped the pan on top of it!

I thought it was unfair for Sue to downgrade the bakers who used pineapple rings instead of slicing up the rings. That's just a personal preference so the bakers shouldn't be penalized for not knowing what she likes. On a shallow note, that multicolored cardigan she was wearing this week looked like a crayon box threw up on a sweater. I couldn't decide if I loved it or hated it.

Poor Ana had to come in last due to her burnt caramel and inedible cake. I felt bad that theyw wouldn't even taste it, especially since they tried several cakes that were underbaked (Sue said Hannah's was lava inside). Sonali's was not quite as burned as Ana's and they still tried hers too. I felt Clayton was unfairly downgraded simply because of his presentation. If there was nothing in the brief saying how the pineapple had to be presented, why should he be penalized for being creative? Stacey, Joel, and Jeff did well though! I'm glad that Sue was willing to break her oh so stringent rules about pineapple rings to give Jeff first in the technical.

I'm mostly neutral on the two hosts, but this week they really annoyed me with their updates to the bakers. "You have three hours left minus two hours minus thirty minutes!" For fuck's sake, just tell them they have half an hour left. They're busy and stressed! Even less funny was when one of them said, "You have 59 seconds left plus one second!" It is their LAST MINUTE so don't try to be cute.

Ana's caramel and peanut butter slice with chocolate ganache looked very neat. And she made up for her caramel disaster from the technical. Mmmm, unctuous.

Joel's hazelnut caramel slice with chocolate looked pretty messy, which I don't think he can entirely blame on the caramel not setting.

Shannon's orange, caradamom, and walnut caramel slice looked okay, but he lost me when he told the judges he hadn't tried the caramel. Dude, you need to taste every component possible before you add it to whatever you're making!

Larissa's Banoffee slice with shortbread base, banana caramel, chocolate ganache, and coffee cream did not look great - and it wasn't just the poop plop of chocolate on top. Putting a slice of banana on top of each didn't help matters - that just made it look like a kiddie snack.

Stacey's chocolate, caramel, and pink marshmallow slice looked like a fun dessert.

Hannah's caramel hokey pokey slice with shortbread base, caramel, hokey pokey, and chocolate drizzle didn't look as bad as I thought it would. I did feel really bad for her when she went to fetch her hokey pokey out of the freezer and found out that someone had put her two sheets on top of each other, effectively ruining both slabs. No one confessed to doing it either (was it Shannon?) so this might be more scandalous than the GBBO icecreamgate from a few years ago!

Annabel's hokey pokey ginger crunch slice sounded like A LOT of ginger: ginger base, ginger icing, and three kinds of ginger. I don't love ginger so I definitely wouldn't enjoy her creation, but the judges loved it.

Vanessa's ginger crunch slice with a ground ginger base, crystallized ginger icing, oats, and dark chocolate drizzle looked very uniform. I think she is a good baker but that she doesn't think too far outside of the box, as evidenced by her telling the judges that ginger crunch is a Kiwi classic and upon being asked what the wow factor would be, saying, "I just have to hope you love it. It's a simple thing done well." Translation: I know there is no wow factor. It's fine to d something classic, but for a showstopper you NEED to have something that is going to elevate it.

Clayton's level up Louise slice with shortcrust base, rhubarb jam, and meringue looked great. When Sue said it wasn't a slice but a biscuit cake, I wasn't sure what her nitpick was. Because he cut the base into a circle instead of a rectangle? That seems a bit pedantic.

Jeff's three nut slice with pistachios, chocolate peanut ganache, white chocolate, and caramelized macademia nuts looked like a lot. I agree with Dean that there was a lot going on which is what I think made it look so messy. I liked the curved chocolate piece he put on top of each slice though.

Sonali's mandarin, frangipane, and thyme slice with white chocolate and orange blossom frosting had a nice presentation. A little effort goes a long way.

While I wasn't surprised by Stacey winning star baker, I was really surprised that Ana was eliminated. Usually the showstopper outweighs everything, even a disastrous technical challenge.

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ElectricBoogaloo, I haven't had a chance to watch this yet, so I'm reading your posts but I have to say this.....

THESE are showstoppers? 

Am I just spoiled by how good some of the UK bakers are?? 

At any rate, will be watching the first two episodes over the weekend so I can get a feel for the Kiwi bakers.....

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I'm surprised that a dietician made such errors in food judgment. Does she not watch other countries' bake off shows? She should have known/understood the brief. That one fellow Jeff?? was lucky that Jen got sent packing ahead of him.

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18 hours ago, PepperMonkey said:

ElectricBoogaloo, I haven't had a chance to watch this yet, so I'm reading your posts but I have to say this.....

THESE are showstoppers? 

Am I just spoiled by how good some of the UK bakers are?? 

At any rate, will be watching the first two episodes over the weekend so I can get a feel for the Kiwi bakers.....

In the bakers’ defense, part of the problem with this week’s showstoppers was the assignment itself. They were told to make a slice which is just a layered tray bake. I was questioning how the bakers would be able to make something like that into a showstopper and the answer is they really didn’t. I still can’t really imagine how to do that myself. 

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9 hours ago, rhys said:

There are just 2 bakes per episode. I feel robbed.

They only did two challenges per week on the Irish version of the show too and it was always disappointing to me. I really don't understand why this decision was made either because they have enough time to show three challenges per episode!

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Yes, I noticed they didn't really call the slices "showstopper".... I'm missing having all three rounds of competition, too.

But I really like these bakers. They're just as fun and nice as the UK and Aussie bakers.

So happy for this!! Especially since I think it's a couple months until Masterchef (UK) The Professionals. :)

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Hayley and Madeleine are quite annoying (I think their voices are too screetchy) and I don't like the 2 challenge format (the Irish Bake Off had that too iirc). 

Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the bakers don't have a week off to go home between the rounds, they film it all in one go or group shooting days. I think that has an influence on the standard of the bakes - they probably can't practice much?

The bakers are lovely and so far I have no issues with the judging. Why did Ana not remake her caramel? She tasted it and knew it was revolting?

The tray bakes were all a bit underwhelming.

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I don't like that they are so crammed together with smaller workbenches. It was so noticeable in the camera shots that there isn't enough space between the stations. But I like the fridges!

I thought the cupcake challenge was a bit beige. And the kids cake challenge is usually a good indicator regarding who is a keen Pinterest user - I hate those rainbowy unicorn cakes with a passion.

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I try to give the bakers a little leeway with the trendy stuff snce the show is filmed in advance of being aired (so sometimes the things they make were still new and interesting when they filmed, as opposed to overplayed by the time it airs) but I agree that you can always spot the Pinterest/Instagram/etsy type people a mile away when you see the kiddie cakes. The unicorn cake, the mermaid cake, and the ice cream cake are all of that ilk. 

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12 hours ago, Aulty said:

I don't like that they are so crammed together with smaller workbenches. It was so noticeable in the camera shots that there isn't enough space between the stations. But I like the fridges!


Oh yes they are crammed and it makes the Kiwis look cheap. Just buy a bigger tent/shed & get bigger work stations so the bakers can spread out more. The group in the center must have felt claustrophobic. I complained before about narrow work surfaces on GBBO now we are shown shorter ones. Arrgh. Each baker needs her/his own frig too.

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16 hours ago, rhys said:

Each baker needs her/his own frig too.

I really wish they would give each person their own refrigerator and freezer. I hate watching the bakers open the doors to try to cram their stuff in with someone else's. Even if they don't mess anything up, it's still warm air getting inside every time they open the door when they're trying to chill something in a relatively short amount of time. On another version of the show (maybe the first season of the Great Canadian Baking Show?), they had to share but the shelves were labeled with each baker's name which was an improvement.

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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There must not be a Kiwi Bake Off without a Pav. It's the law.

I'm still not enjoying this incarnation of the Bake Off as much as I should. The challenges for this week were ... not very difficult? - I mean even I could do those to an ok standard.

Well done Anabel - she has been such a calm baker so far! How lovely that everyone donated their leftover chocolate for Sonali to redo her ganache (her roulade still did not come together in the end), but Clayton and Stacey complained that he needed more chocolate too - do they usually have a limited amount of ingredients? Shannon had it coming, his Pav looked like a pancake cake.

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Yay, dessert week!

I've never made a raspberry roulade (and bonus: mascapone!) but I remember making an ice cream roulade when I was in middle school. It was a welcome home dessert for my parents after they'd gone out of town. I was so proud of myself for making it all by myself, but I still remember what a pain in the ass it was to roll it up. Sonali and Shannon did not do well. I liked how much filling Vanessa had in her roulade. I was a little disappointed that Joel did so well since he had no clue and was just cribbing off of everyone else and not even trying to hide it. Jeff did well, but congratulations to Annabel for coming in first. She did a really great job.

I'm not a huge fan of pavlovas, but it's not the worst thing they could have assigned the bakers. They're generally not the prettiest or most impressive looking dessert but it's always interesting to see what the bakers come up with.

Vanessa's pavlova with lemon curd and limoncello mascarpone cream was really pretty. The piping on the top and the pomegranate seeds made it look fancy. Ha, loved that the hosts reminded them to drink the limoncello shots that Vanessa provided.

Clayton's drunken pavlova with lemon curd and margarita cream and kiwi lime macarons looked like a messy pile so I was surprised that one of the judges complimented it on the height and the distinct layers. I had to laugh because he made such a big deal about how he was going the extra mile to make macarons and then (1) they kept falling off (2) the judges said nothing about them and (3) Larissa made macarons too.

Larissa's chocolate and raspberry pavlova with macarons was a little messy, but I will always root for anything with a chocolate raspberry flavor combination.

Stacey's hazelnut pavlova with chocolate hazelnut cream and raspberry curd looked nice with the pink meringues, powdered sugar, and raspberries on top. The judges seemed really disappointed with how thin the meringue was though.

Josh's Black Forest pavlova with cocoa meringue, cherry curd, and cream was a mess but at least he knew it.

Jeff's pavlova with pomegranate jelly, lemon curd, and lemon gin chantilly cream was very colorful and festive with the decorations on top.

Shannon's strawberry mango pavlova with cream and kiwi lime curd was so flat and tiny. On top of that, it just looked messy.

Annabel's pavlova with lime zest cream and kiwi lime curd was just gorgeous. I don't know what else to say about it.

Sonali's pretty in pink pavlova with pomegranate curd, raspberry curd, and rosewater and rosemary cream was so colorful with all the fruit and flowers on top (I especially loved the little blue flowers). Like the judges, I was skeptical about the flavor combinations.

Hannah's coconut passionfruit pavlova with pineapple, white chocolate wings, white chocolate spheres, ganache, and toasted coconut was pretty but I wish she had something with another color somewhere because it was very monochromatic.

Yay for Annabel winning star baker again! She is really kicking ass!

Awww, Shannon knew he was going home but I had to laugh when his name was called and he said, "WHAT?!" I'm glad he was able to have a sense of humor about it.

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Yum, bread week!

Ooh, braided challah. I have to agree with Dean - good bread deserves good butter! But I feel like asking the bakers to make the bread plus butter plus lemon curd in two hours is a bit much. I guess they figured the bakers have nothing to do while the bread is in the oven. I remember making butter in a jar when I was in third grade.

One of the reasons that I love the Bake-Off shows is the contestants are so nice and we've seen them help each other in a pinch. But I don't think it was fair that Clayton asked Annabel to show him how to braid the challah (and then Jeff and Joel came over to get a lesson too). They were all given illustrated directions for the braiding technique so they should have been able to figure it out without Annabel showing them how to do it. I was surprised that Sonali managed to come in first place after barely getting her bread out of the oven at the last minute. When Joel said he must be doing something right to keep doing so well at the technical challenges, I thought yeah, copying Annabel when you don't know what to do!

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Scones are not my favorite thing (I'd rather have a muffin or a danish), but maybe I just need to try some of these scones!

Hannah's buttermilk scones with apricot jam and a white chocolate drizzle were very pretty. Interesting that Sue mentioned a raspberry flavor but it wasn't mentioned in the description of what she made. Her pepperdew, spinach and feta scones looked good. I had to laugh when Sue said there was a refreshing tang at the end (because I'm still 12).

Clayton's cinnamon, date, and walnut pinwheels sounded like a very autumn breakfast snack. They looked kind of messy though. His pumpkin, spinach, bacon, and feta scones were definitely flat. I'm glad Dean demonstrated and explained the problem.

Wow, the judges really loved Sonali's cranberry, ginger, and white chocolate scones and her sundried tomato, paneer, and herb scones with burnt tomato relish. I don't know if I've ever heard Sue be so enthusiastic about two of a baker's creations. 

Larissa's apple and allspice pinwheels sounded like a great fall snack. Ha, I loved that when Dean said that grating apples with the skin on means the apple skin can get leathery, she said that she likes the fiber. Her sundried tomato, spinach, and feta scones with tomato and onion chutney sounded good and looked really nice. Interesting that Dean said her chutney was extraneous though.

Jeff's pumpkin and lebkuchen gewürz scones with blueberry rosemary jam did not sound like something I would like (I'm one of the few people who hates pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes, etc). I liked that Sue opened one up to check out the crumb, the texture, and how dry it was before tasting it. His kumara (sweet potato), cheese, and bacon scones sounded good but it's too bad they were underbaked.

I was surprised that the judges said Annabel's mandarin scones with blueberry and mandarin jam didn't have enough mandarin flavor. She has been doing so well throughout the competition so she was the last person I would expect to hear that criticism about. Her sundried tomato, feta, and thyme scones looked really nice and the judges really liked them.

Joel's date and orange scones were simple but well executed. His cheese and spinach scones weren't much to look at but they sounded good. His strategy not to do anything too original worked for him this week.

I agreed with the judges that  a drizzle of something would have helped Vanessa's cinnamon and pecan pinwheels. Her bacon and onion scones with caramelized onion jam sounded delicious though!

Stacey's lemon scones with lemon and clotted cream curd sounded good but interesting that the judges said it wasn't as good without the curd. Girl, your actual assigned item needs to be better than the condiment! Her tomato and smoked cheddar scones with paprika and sundried tomato butter looked nice.

I was certain Sonali would be star baker this week. She did so well in the technical challenge and the judges LOVED both of her scones. I was surprised that the judges said Joel was the other person they were considering. Poor Vanessa. She just had a bad week. First she forgot to put eggs in her challah dough and then she forgot the sugar in her scones. I think she just lost her focus this week.

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Oof, this version of Bake Off needs work. The judges are not technical or descriptive enough in their judging, and a lot of times just say that's delicious or creamy or it's nicely done or it's not your day. And they show too much of them chewing, and as @oldCJ pointed out, you can hear them chewing and breathing! ewww!

And the hosts are so bad. Are there really no TV presenters in NZ that have a natural charm and sense of humor? Their scripted lines are terrible, but their ad-libbing and interactions with the contestants are downright painful! 

And finally, if I may complain about one more thing, if they are only going to do 2 challenges, then liminate the technical. I don't need to see 12 of the same thing. I would rather see the challenges where everyone gets to be creative and showcase their own flavors and such.  

To end on a positive note, I now have way more appreciation for the other versions judges and presenters, most especially the British group. 

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Yum, biscuits!

I had to laugh when Dean said that Belgian biscuits are a quintessential Kiwi snack. I don't doubt that it's true but it's just funny to hear that something with another country in the name is a typical snack of a different country.

When Annabel said she was only able to cut 16 biscuits from her dough, I was worried for her. I was surprised that she was able to make and bake another set to get to 20. There was a definite range of results. Some looked really messy (Joel) while others looked very neat (Hanna). Poor Sonali. I agree with the judges that you can't trust that your oven will bake evenly and you should rotate your trays, but still. Larissa did surprisingly well, especially given the general chaos while she was baking. Congratulations to Stacey for being first in the technical challenge! Ha, loved that the judges were correct about Clayton's hands being red.

I'm not a huge fan of gingerbread so on the rare occasion that I've made a gingerbread house, I didn't eat any of it afterward.

I find the hosts much more tolerable when they're just talking to the bakers instead of trying to be funny. Most of their jokes are annoying, not funny. Even though Larissa was laughing when they started singing, I wanted to tell the hosts to GTFO. They saw that she was piping some very tiny intricate details and they decided that they should be loud and distracting instead of leaving her alone. At least they tried to help a little bit Larissa and Sonali when their buildings started to fall apart. And great suggestion to Sonali to make a smaller structure out of the pieces that were left.

Clayton's honey gingerbread beehive had its pros and cons. On the one hand, he really gave himself a challenge in constructing that beehive the way he did using all of those tiny pieces to hold up each level so well done there. On the other hand, it was very sparse looking, as if it were the first phase of construction. I don't know that papering the windows would have made it look that much more finished.

Joel's cookie dough swing bridge BARELY fit the brief. He made a bunch of bricks and stacked them up in layers of two. That is nothing compared with what everyone else did. And considering how little construction he did, it wasn't very tall or detailed. He did no decorating. The only thing he made besides all those biscuit loafs was the floor of the bridge out of sugar.

Sonali's cookie dough birdhouse was such a disaster from the beginning. I give her credit for never giving up. She just kept trying to modify whatever she could to keep going, which really speaks to her character. When the first wall was overbaked in the oven, she made a second one. When one wall broke, she glued it back together. When the birdhouse fell apart, she salvaged pieces to make a  smaller version. She just never gave up, which I love.

Hannah's shortbread and gingerbread lighthouse was colorful and I liked the sugar windows, but it was slightly wonky and messy.

Jeff's gingerbread Eiffel Tower with florentine biscuits was really impressive due to the size and shape. It wasn't as tall as some of the other structures and the icing was a little messy in places, but I loved that he was able to make an accurate Eiffel Tower without any construction issues. No wobbles, no walls falling over, just a solid and pretty Eiffel Tower.

Stacey's gingerbread Invercargill Water Tower was fine, but I wish she hadn't used royal icing as her glue because it made everything look so messy.

Annabel's cinnamon and clove gingerbread Craighead Diocesan School chapel was simple but so beautiful and perfect. The blue icing added some much needed color and I loved the stained glass window she painted for the back.

Larissa's gingerbread Larnach Castle was okay. The shape and structure were pretty simple so it's a good thing she did all that detailed icing to make up for it.

I knew Sonali was one of the bottom two, but I was hoping that Joel would go home because at least Sonali tried to make a structure (and Joel came in dead last in the technical). I loved that after Sonali was eliminated, she said that they call each other the baker's dozen and that they will always be close. Awwwww!

I was a little surprised that Jeff won star baker, only because he did so poorly in the technical (sixth place) but the showstopper is usually weighted much more heavily so you can still get star baker even if you didn't do well earlier.

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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2 hours ago, Writing Wrongs said:

I thought the contestants weren't allowed to help each other during technicals?

On the British version of the show, the instruction sheet for the technical challenge says the bakers aren't supposed to help each other but I don't think they have that as an official written rule. I know I've seen the contestants on other versions of the show giving advice, discussing/debating specifically how to tackle the technical, etc.

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37 minutes ago, Writing Wrongs said:

Maybe it's because I find them so annoying, but it seems like the hosts get more face time in this version. I hate how they bug the bakers during challenges.

I’m fine with the hosts talking to the bakers but these two seem like they’re harassing the bakers which I find annoyimg. They’re already under time constraints so don’t bother them with your attempts to be funny!

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On 11/15/2018 at 12:04 PM, Writing Wrongs said:

Maybe it's because I find them so annoying, but it seems like the hosts get more face time in this version. I hate how they bug the bakers during challenges.

Yep they were way too "in your face" to a couple of the bakers. I commend the bakers for his mind they are to the interviewers. Yeesch--I couldn't be so nice.

I'm not caring much for the judges either. Can't really articulate why. They don't seem to offer much in the way of helpful critiques.

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This is the first episode this season that was rated PG (the previous ones were all rated G) so I kept waiting to see what caused this. F bomb? Nip slip?

Sue's floral print jacket and matching dress were a bit much. I was getting flashbacks to Jessica McClintock floral print prom dresses.

Yum, linzer torte. I will never say no to jam filled pastry. I don't know how I feel about the melting moment substitution (instead of the regular lattice top).

Ha, Joel's lattice was more like gigantic patio doors. Poor Jeff. His jam destroyed his torte. Why on earth did Clayton decide to do a squiggle on top of his instead of the lattice described in the instructions? I felt bad that Annabel missed the top spot based solely upon the lattice, but Stacey did a great job.

The signature challenge seemed very generic: just make a pie. Any kind of pastry, any kind of filling, dealer's choice.

Hannah's chicken, bacon, and pesto pie with a sour cream and herb short crust sounded very good. The sunflower and lattice top was really pretty. It was nicely browned on the top, the lattice was well done, the pie was totally full, and she used two kinds of pastry.

Joel's chicken, thyme, and leek pie with puff pastry base sounded good (although both the judges seemed very disappointed when they heard he planned to use thyme instead of tarragon). The pastry stars and lattice top were very neatly done. I'm glad Dean pointed out that baking his pie in a glass dish is what caused the bottom to be underbaked.

Larissa's chicken tikka masala cock pie. had me cracking up. The rooster on top ended up being more trouble than it was worth, but they were told they had to decorate their pies!

The chess top of Clayton's pulled pork pie with peas and spinach was a fun idea. I don't know why the judges were so against the idea from the beginning. 

Stacey's apple, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry pie sounded really good. I loved that Dean was just walking around tasting stuff while people were still baking. But he loved Stacey's filling so much during his walkabout that I knew unless she did something crazy at the end (like laying an entire fish on top), she was up for star baker.

Jeff's blackberry and apple pie with lemon custard sounded delicious. I liked the idea of putting that circle of custard in the center of the pie to keep the custard separate. I like custard and fruit together, but I think it would have tasted different if he had just put a layer of custard with the jam.

Annabel's peach, pear, and basil pie sounded so good. I liked that she used some basil in her pie crust to add to the basil flavor in the filling. I love peaches and pears but the only time I've eaten them together was in that canned fruit salad of my childhood. Now I really want a peach and pear pie. It's a shame that the cornflour was enough to make the judges complain.

So happy for Hannah winning star baker this week! Clayton had to go home this week. His pastry was not baked in the signature pie and he was sixth in the technical challenge. Larissa had some underbaked pastry in the signature, but because her rooster wasn't covering the entire top of her pie, it wasn't quite as bad.

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On 11/14/2018 at 10:01 AM, Writing Wrongs said:

The hosts are awful. They are trying too hard to be funny and they just aren't. They are annoying as hell.

They are cringe-worthy. The judges are not my favorite either. 

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Those linzer tortes looked amazing even the ones with soggy bottoms & flimsy sides. I'd never heard of melting moments. Yum. Was  Joel throwing shade at Clay? If so, that was a bit naughty!

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The hosts are making me not want to watch this version! Can they just calm down and not shout and sing and use stupid accents every time they say something. They do not seem to have any self awareness that they are annoying and not funny whatsoever. 

The judges are not great either. I hope they replace the lot of them if there is a season 2.

Bummer that Sonali went, but, I mean, she did basically put a pile of rubble up for judging, so what could they do?

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12 hours ago, rhys said:

I'd never heard of melting moments.

I hadn't either. When the judges initially started talking about it (as they discussed the ideal linzer torte), I thought they were being descriptive, as in, "You want to have a melting moment." When it became obvious that they were talking about a specific component of the technical challenge, I had to google it to see exactly what it was!

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I am not a fan of lavender in food, so I was not looking forward to the gluten free orange and lavender mousse tea cake technical challenge.

I've had the same issue when trying to weigh small amounts of very light things, so Hannah was smart to put a jar on the scale and then add the lavender. After seeing so many bakers chuck in the entire jar of lavender, I was expecting the judges to say that some of them had too much lavender flavor.

I was surprised that Annabel had time to start over and make a second cake after her first one collapsed in the middle. Good call though!

I liked that although all of the cakes looked different, the judges said they were all delicious. Congratulations to Larissa for winning her first technical challenge! Hannah looked the closest to what they were originally looking for but due to the cheese flavor that Sue mentioned, I didn't think Hannah would come in second. I think Stacey came in last because she went overboard with her piping.

Mmmmm, two tiered cheesecake! To be honest, this seemed like a pretty easy gluten free challenge since all they had to do was make a gluten free base aka swap out the graham cracker crust. Strangely, the judges didn't really talk about the gluten free bases a lot when tasting the various cheesecakes, which was kind of the point of including this challenge during gluten-free week.

I am one of the few people who loathes all of the annual pumpkin spice products, so I was not interested in Hannah's pumpkin pie cheesecake. Her white chocolate and maple syrup cheesecake sounded much better to me! The salted peanut brittle, caramel, and cream topping sounded good too. I was worried when the judges said that her cakes were still a bit warm when they tasted them.

Jeff's pumpkin and ginger cheesecake was something I would definitely not enjoy. His white chocolate and tamarillo cheesecake looked nice. The tuile leaves were a nice touch (although I was worried when the judges were whispering about how he spends a lot of time on extra elements each week).

Larissa's rhubarb, ginger, and custard cheesecake looked good. Her raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake was really pretty. I liked that although the flavors weren't the same, the color scheme of the rhubarb and raspberry were similar.

Annabel's chai latte cheesecake and mocha cheesecake were so simple but pretty. The italian meringue "foam" was a fun idea.

Joel's stubborn need to only basic "classic" flavors is interesting because he's so young. That's the kind of attitude we usually see from the older bakers. His non-answer when he was asked if he could win with such simple flavors made me roll my eyes. If you're going to stick with simple, then you need to execute perfectly. When he mixed up which one was the lemon and which one was the lime, I thought dude, there are only TWO things you have to keep track of! His lemon cheesecake and his lime cheesecake with ginger biscuit base looked sloppy. The whipped cream dollops he put on top were totally uneven - different sizes, not in a perfect circle on the edge. The cheesecakes themselves were also messy. It was clear from the side view that the top one was way over to one side. No, he didn't have to dye the cakes yellow and green but he could have done more than dump one on top of the other, squeeze out ten misshapen dollops of whipped cream, and call it a day.

Stacey's lemon cheesecake and raspberry cheesecake were so pretty. A sponge cake case for cheesecake sounds weird.

Awwww, I loved how genuinely happy Annabel was about Larissa winning star baker!

I was not surprised that Joel went home. He was fifth out of six in the technical challenge and he really needed to wow the judges with his cheesecakes.

Has anyone else been watching An Extra Slice? I liked that the hosts did something useful this week when Larissa was looking around the kitchen trying to find something to make a stand for her top cheesecake.

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