The GKBO bakers’ bready masterpieces
The GKBO bakers’ bready masterpieces

FoodNovember 10, 2021

The Great Kiwi Bake Off turned bread into art and the results were incredible

The GKBO bakers’ bready masterpieces
The GKBO bakers’ bready masterpieces

Last week the GKBO bakers created impressive works of art that belong in Te Papa – out of focaccia. Longtime bread art enthusiast Tara Ward analyses these creative masterpieces. 

Savoury Week on The Great Kiwi Bake Off will be remembered for one thing, and one thing only: the magnificent bread pictures. Most of last week’s episode saw our amateur bakers compete to make the best pretzel and doughnut, but we’re not here to talk about those treats. They were merely the curtain raiser to the main act, the boring gift shop you have to walk through to get to the awe inspiring exhibition. Forget those twisty pastries. We’re here for the fancy focaccia. 

This is how art should be consumed

Last week’s Showstopper challenge saw the six remaining bakers whip up a focaccia, an Italian flatbread known for its light, spongy consistency. Judges Sue Fleischl and Dean Brettschneider decided to jazz up this mundane loaf by making the bakers decorate it with savoury ingredients, creating a picture of their favourite scene or memory. The flavours of the decorations had to compliment the bread, and the bread had to have big holes in it. Most of all, it had to look good. 

I think you’ll agree, Aotearoa, this looks better than good. 

People would pay good money for this strange but impressive edible art. This morning at a cafe someone wanted to charge me $9.50 for a plain cheese scone, and had it been draped with some charming capsicum flowers and a delightful ocean made of boiled cabbage and sunflower seeds, then I would have happily handed over my last dollar. Alas, that cafe was not courageous enough. Only the bravest of bakers can stare focaccia art in the eye and live to tell the tale. Here, we tell their stories. 

Wendy’s Fiji Sunset Focaccia


Take me back to that rainbow kind of magic, where cherry tomatoes line the evening sky and the wind blows softly through the capsicums. Wendy’s delicate masterpiece conjured up a delicious South Pacific sunset, although Dean reckoned the bread was “a little bit on the dense side”. Apparently that’s what people also said to van Gogh (van Dough, if you will) when he started baking artistic focaccias, so this is destined to be an absolute classic.  

Tom’s African Safari Focaccia 

Put your spongy ladyfingers together for Tom’s dramatic desert creation, a bread so fancy it has branches sticking out the top in case the poppy seed giraffe gets peckish. That’s some Star Baker shit right there, and I love the sesame seed clouds, j’adore the pumpkin sun and simply cannot get enough of that sturdy bread border. I’ve never been to Africa, but if I put that herby frame around my neck and left the house, it would definitely take me places. 

Alby’s Haumoana Caddy Shack Focaccia

A picture paints a thousand words, and in the case of Alby’s beach scene, every one of those words was tense. Sue and Dean couldn’t agree on whether they liked this carby delight, and when Mum and Dad fight, it helps to have several big slabs of bread nearby to help you eat the stress away. Maybe Dean doesn’t like houses built from kumara, maybe Sue likes kale trees too much, maybe I should just chew my way into that caddy shack and not come out until we’re all friends again. 

Pera’s Kawakawa Foccacia

Ignore what the art experts say, because everyone knows that adding sticks of butter to any situation makes everything better. Pera’s creation was a multi-layered gem, flavoured with kawakawa on the inside and the outer decorations inspired by the town of Kawakawa. Sue reckoned this was a grand effort, and both the art and butter worlds agree. 

Courtnay’s Knead a Tropical Holiday Focaccia

Art can change the world, and Courtnay’s focaccia was so delicious it inspired Dean to crack a smile and the universe was never the same again. Hang this brick of goodness in Te Papa immediately, because after this episode, Banksy is probably jealous he didn’t put a loaf of bread through the shredder when he had the chance. 

Jasmin’s Hubby’s Hometown Foccacia

This is a picture perfect postcard that Sue Fleischl needs to put a stamp on and mail to me immediately. Dean and Sue thought Jasmin’s bread needed more cooking, but did anyone dare tell Klimt that The Kiss wasn’t pashy enough? Would they tell da Vinci that The Last Supper needed more banter? Sometimes you have to let your feta snow settle where it lays, GKBO, and let the bready truth set you free. Chef’s kiss, indeed.  

The Great Kiwi Bake Off screens on TVNZ 1 on Thursdays at 7.30pm and is streaming on TVNZ OnDemand.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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