Where were you when the person you thought would get sent home from Great Kiwi Bake Off didn’t? Tara Ward was in her pantry, praising the chocolate gods for blessing us with the nicest show on television.
“It’s all about the crust and the goo,” Sue said, as she welcomed us to Chocolate Week. Sue was referring to the perfect soufflé, but in my mind, she was also telling us how to live our best life.
We might be a bit crusty on the outside, but after nine weeks of digesting the sweet feast of kindness that is GKBO, my innards have corroded away and I now exist simply as a messy puddle of humanity. It’s fine, I love goo as much as Sue.
Crust and goo were everywhere in the semi-final, as chaos reigned in the kitchen. I could barely handle last week when Annabel wanted us to eat broccoli for breakfast, so it was a whole new world as Sue and Dean chucked in new components like staggered starts and blind hot judging in the Technical Bake.
The Showstopper became even more unpredictable when Annabel suddenly fell ill, left the tent, and couldn’t present a cake for judging. Surely her journey down the cookie dough brick road of competitive baking had come to an abrupt end?
Friends, nobody went home.
I know. I KNOW. If we needed any more proof that GKBO is the loveliest bloody show on television, this was it. Of course Annabel wasn’t eliminated. She was unwell! It was out of her control! All the bakers advanced to the final, choirs of angels began to sing, and the whole tent spontaneously combusted from extreme levels of happiness.
I mean, look at their shiny little faces. Crust and goo, everywhere.
Who knew chocolate was such a complicated beast? The bakers had to make two chocolate soufflés and the chocolate cake of their wildest dreams, featuring three types of chocolate and decorated with fancy chocolate on top. It sounds like heaven, but Jeff reckoned melted chocolate contained all sorts of mystical crystals and Sue knew the day would be a challenge. “Don’t be afraid,” she told the bakers. “Be firm, but be gentle.”
Firm and gentle, crust and goo, unctuous and moist. I could listen to Sue until the pastry swans come home.
Which baker rose to the top like a fine chocolate soufflé? Who would be flattened like a Rice Krispie base under ten layers of chocolate mousse and jelly? Will they ever let Dean into the group hug? Let’s slice into the penultimate GKBO power rankings to find out.
WTF? But also, yay.
Poor Annabel. The tempered chocolate rug was pulled out from under her, and her dreams of a walk in the chocolate woods filled with tiny chocolate toadstools were shattered into shards. It’s only fair that Annabel lives to bake another day; may next week’s final be a picnic in the park for her.
Stacey’s white chocolate cake was a thing of beauty. Also, if music be the food of love, can we please hear Stacey say “curdled” in her glorious Southland burr until the end of days.
Nobody felt the highs and lows of Chocolate Week more than Hannah. One minute she was in a spin over her soufflés coming out of the oven too soon, the next she flew higher than a cock on a pie after winning the Technical Bake. She lost her mojo when Hannah left, but found it layered somewhere inside that delicious monster of a chocolate cake. Amazing, 10/10, would eat again.
STAR BAKER: Jeff
Who dices with danger this close to the end? Bloody Jeff. “I’m going all the way,” Jeff said, ignoring Sue’s instructions and filling his soufflé ramekins to the tippy top. Jeff is the James Bond of egg whites, the Jack Reacher of wooden spoons. The risk was 100% worth it, because Sue’s genuinely shocked reaction to his fluffy masterpieces was a GKBO sight to behold.
It’s a miracle Jeff made Star Baker, because by his own admission he was doing a lot of improvising. “I haven’t practised this,” he said as he casually whipped up a ten-layer chocolate mirror cake while rattling off some Harry Potter stuff about the crystalised structure of glossy chocolate. Incredible.
Subscribe to The Bulletin to get all the day’s key news stories in five minutes – delivered every weekday at 7.30am.