Three Great Kiwi Bake Off bakers stand before us, but only one can be the winner. Will it be Courtnay, Alby or Jasmin? Tara Ward watches the grand finale to find out.
Friends, lovers and ladyfingers, The Great Kiwi Bake Off is over for another season. We’ve hoovered down nine weeks of poo cakes and patisseries, and after three tense rounds of tiny treats and tall cakes, Alby was crowned the winner. Despite an intense start that threatened his chances of victory, Alby didn’t give up. His mix of sophisticated and unusual flavours won the judges over, and he left the GKBO kitchen with a new glass trophy and a hearty smile.
Judges Sue Fleischl and Dean Brettschneider were thrilled for Alby too, but I did worry about them when they set eyes on Alby’s 40-egg whopper of a matcha cake.
Do not stand at my cake grave and weep, FleischlSchneider. You’d think two people whose job is to eat baking all day might look a little cheerier, but perhaps Sue and Dean were reflecting on their own Bake Off journey. Maybe Sue had changed her mind about how good cassata was, and maybe this was the moment Dean realized he never wanted to see an eclair stuck to a cake dangling from a wooden plinth ever again.
Praise the pastry gods for the unfailingly upbeat presenters Hayley Sproull and Madeleine Sami, and the brave finalists Courtnay, Jasmin and Alby, who stared green marzipan in the eye and lived to tell the tale. The GKBO finale was their baking Everest, and they knocked the bastard off. Let’s stuff our faces with ten of the best moments from this season’s grand finale.
1) Alby’s redemption from vexed to victorious
Thirty minutes into the finale and Dr Alby was having a shocker. “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to plate something,” he panicked after his buttercream split four times, which apparently is four times too many.
But when Alby gets knocked down, he gets back up again, and there’s nothing more inspiring than a doctor healing himself with cake. Alby bashed out a flavoursome technical bake and a whopper of a matcha cake that Dean called “eclectic but well balanced”. It shows that when life gives you split buttercream, just bake the shit out of some green tea and you too shall be embraced by sweet Sue Fleischel.
2) Dean’s face when Jasmin announced she was making a ‘hanging cake’
Dean knows a lot about baking, but is it his dream to see cakes hanging upside down on a hook? His expression would suggest not. Would they have pulled this sort of stunt on New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker, back in the day? Again, the eyes say no.
3) The moment Courtnay asked Sue how big her mouth was
Fun fact: petit fours means “little ovens” in French, and those little suckers are supposed to be eaten in two bites. Rules are for breaking, and if you can eat them in one, France will salute you and give you a chateau with a moat. We never found out how big Sue’s bite was, nor did we find out if mirror glaze lets you see directly into your soul. Anyone? It’s fine.
4) The figurine Hayley and Madeleine made for Jasmin’s cake
If 2021 were a tiny person made of fondant, this is exactly what it would look like. Look, we’ve all been Fondant Man this year, and sometimes we just need a few quiet moments slumped under some dangling eclairs to collect ourselves.
5) This shot of Courtnay hooning around in a convertible car
Not sure why this was in the finale, but absolutely loved it.
6) Cassata: the technical challenge nobody knew anything about
Technical challenges are supposed to push the bakers beyond their comfort zones, and old mate Sue Fleischl saved an absolute doozy for the finale. She asked the bakers to make a cassata, a traditional Italian cake layered with sponge and ricotta cheese. None of the finalists had heard of it before, but well done GKBO for getting the phrase “curds and whey” back on primetime TV in 2021.
7) The apron Jasmin’s children gave to her for good luck
No, you’re crying and I am Fondant Man, slumped in the corner weeping into my curds and whey yet again.
8) When the three finalists stopped baking to get on the plonk
The cynic in me says the booze was a sneaky New World product placement, but the rest of me that is made purely of gingerbread and good wishes says this was a heartwarming moment that captured everything GKBO stands for. One hour into a five hour bake, Courtnay called everyone together to raise their classes to their GKBO journey. Nobody toasted to Christina’s poo cake from week one, though. Never mind.
9) When friends and family arrived and Alby told Pera how much her advice helped him
Confirmation again that Pera is a true angel, and that GKBO is the nicest show on television.
10) The news that Christina is still making poo cakes
Never change, Bake Off.
Season three of The Great Kiwi Bake Off is available on TVNZ OnDemand.