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Is there anything more Kiwi than a buzzy bee and the Whanganui slide?
Is there anything more Kiwi than a buzzy bee and the Whanganui slide?

Pop CultureOctober 16, 2018

The Great Kiwi Bake Off Power Rankings, episode one: Welcome to Moistland

Is there anything more Kiwi than a buzzy bee and the Whanganui slide?
Is there anything more Kiwi than a buzzy bee and the Whanganui slide?

Complete with hard tops and soggy bottoms, The Great Kiwi Bake Off premiered on TVNZ2 tonight. Tara Ward has the power rankings.

Inside the grounds of a Mediterranean palace fit for Queen Mary Berry lies a pond with a turtle. Next to that turtle is a building disguised as a tent. Inside that tent is a shitload of bunting, twelve nervous bakers, and one of the nicest bloody shows you’ll ever set your beady little eyes on: the Great Kiwi Bake Off.

Rainbows, y’al!

Plucked from the fruity loins of the Bake Off franchise, GKBO is everything we’ve ever dreamed of. There’s the same reassuring ping-pong background music, the same double-entendre chit chat from glorious hosts Hayley Sproull and Madeleine Sami. Judges Sue Fleischel and Dean Brettschneider know a soggy bottom when they see one, and the bakers reached technical heights that us mere mortals can only dream of.

The whole thing shines like a freshly glazed Paul Hollywood signature loaf, and I am here to hoover up every delicious morsel.

Joel, the modern Renaissance man, who can play rugby and bake.

Over the next ten weeks, our amateur bakers will mix, roll and ice their way through 21 different challenges. They’ll laugh, they’ll cry, they’ll fall to the floor as their screams rattle every pastel wall of the GKBO tent. Who will be top? Who will be bottom? Which of these bakers will dip their spongy ladyfingers into a bucket of buttercream and come out smelling of victory?

Me after this episode.

I’m drunk with excitement, like I’ve just guzzled all of Sonali’s boozy cupcakes. I am a pot of dulche de leche about to boil over. I am Hayley when she screamed that Clayton’s dinosaur cake had no ears. It’s all too much, so let’s kick off the GKBO Power Rankings, which are twice as messy as Jeff’s Tantrum Cake and only half as palatable.


Alas, poor Jennie, we hardly knew ye. Banished from the tent like a fondant penguin stuck outside a marshmallow igloo birthday cake, Jennie’s frosty dreams of GKBO glory melted away and the universe claimed another victim of climate change.

11: Shannon aka ‘Cake Guy’

The judges: “Bouncy! Zingy! Such fresh flavours!”

Shannon: “I’m glad those stupid little cupcakes are done and dusted.”

10: Vanessa

Glazed cherries are the closest this show gets to throwing wine in someone’s face.

What the baked Alaska was Vanessa thinking, plonking glazed cherries atop her cupcakes? Judge Sue honed in on those suckers, throwing down a killer smile fierce enough to make those tiny berries of evil shrivel before our very eyes.

“It’s just something I’ve always done at home,” was all Vanessa could manage in defence, but it was too late. The damage was done. Time of my death: 7:53pm.

9: Ana

Hard to believe bacon cupcakes come in at #9, but that’s science for you.

8: Hannah

Hannah’s daughter calls raspberries “girlsenberries”, which is bloody adorable and also marks the coming of another wave of feminism, cleverly disguised as a fondant mermaid.

7: Jeff

Welcome to Moistland, population Jeff. His Tantrum Cake was a glorious beast, dripping with mandarins, pistachios and lolly snakes. Sue called it a child’s playground, I call it a well-balanced meal, but let’s not fall out. We’ll call it what it was: moist.

6: Stacey

If there were points for wearing clothes that matched your baking, Stacey would be Star Baker all day, every day. Alas, there is not.

5: Joel

Shards, shards everywhere. As Joel stared down the camera to tell his rugby mates that he had a thing for cupcakes, I felt shards of emotion pierce my heart, much like the sugar shards Joel was stabbing into his volcano cake. What a time to be alive, when men can like both sport and baking!

4: Larissa

Larissa has a pet rabbit named John. Say no more.

3: Clayton

The world needs more people on TV growling like animals, please. But that’s a campaign for another day, because this is about Clayton, star growler of #GKBO2018, king of the dulce de leche, master of the dinosaur cake.

I mean, look at it. Wrap your optic nerves around this masterpiece and feel your heart to lift to cake heaven as you soak in all its rice crispy goodness. Rawr, Clayton. Rawr.


Also, I’ve no idea what dulche de leche is, but it sounds fancy and comes in a can, which is enough for me to call it a meal and feed it to my kids five nights straight.

2: Sonali

“There’s no fun without whiskey,” is Sonali’s motto, and if that’s not the title of her first cookbook then I’ll eat my own weight in tantrum cake. I was blotto from a mere glance at Sonali’s stout, Bailey’s and whiskey flavoured cupcakes, and if this is how Sonali starts, I can’t wait to see how she finishes. Presumably floating adrift in a sea of booze, while the other bakers use Clayton’s dinosaur cake as a life raft.

Look at her! Look at her face!

WINNER: Annabel

We should start naming streets after this week’s Star Baker, who kicked everyone’s cakey arses without a single moment of panic or chaos. Annabel remained calm under pressure. Her cake was inspired by the wisdom of a small child and her cupcakes looked like they’d been iced with the kisses of a thousand pink angels. I am twice her age and I cry every time I have to cook dinner. I want to be Annabel when I grow up.

Keep going!