Six celebrities, six stunning self-portraits crafted from cake. They were all wonderful in their own way, but which was the best?
Tis the season to be eating nice things, and nobody knows that better than The Great Kiwi Bake Off. The annual Christmas special is the highlight of each season, thanks to the absolute chaos these celebrities bring to the kitchen. Six famous people with a variety of baking skills? Yes, please. $50,000 of cash being thrown at their chosen charities? Absolutely. National MP Simon Bridges wearing some classic Green Party merch? Don’t mind if I do.
Simon Bridges joined Francis Tipene (The Casketeers), Shortland Street’s Rebekah Randell and comedians Justine Smith, Josh Thomson and Laura Daniel to tackle two tricky baking challenges. The first was a technical bake of 12 identical cupcakes, the second was a self portrait cake of any flavour, size or shape. Creativity was key, but judges Dean Brettschneider and Sue Fleischl also wanted the celebs to have as much fun as this tray of festive cupcake snowpeople wearing tiny top hats.
Amid this galaxy of stars, the greatest performance came from none other than Dame Sue Fleischl. This was Sue as we’ve never seen her before, a woman so filled with the festive spirit that she pretended her cupcakes could talk. She waggled those little ginger snowpeople through the air and gave them wacky voices and even Dean joined in with the fun, because nobody puts his ginger nubbin in the corner. Had Sue and Dean been on the cooking sherry? God, I hope so.
Cake was the winner on the day, and these selfie cakes are the gift that keeps on giving. Let’s slather ourselves in buttercream as we rank the hard work of these brave celebrity bakers.
6) Francis Tipene’s Classic Christmas Cake
Despite having no baking experience, The Casketeers star launched himself into Bake Off with the level of dedication usually reserved for his leaf blower. His traditional Christmas cake was topped with a blue fondant Francis, and he only had to call wife Kaiora for advice once. Can we all call Kaiora for advice once in our lives? She was awesome. Great cake, officially to die for.
5) Rebekah Fraser’s Sugar Claus Cake
Someone call the fondant police, a crime has been committed. Shortland Street star Rebekah was this year’s Toni Street, a baking wonder who wowed the judges and came first in the Technical Bake, yet somehow didn’t win Star Baker. Sue and Dean reckoned Bex was so good she could be a professional baker, with Sue even suggesting you could put Bex’s marshmallow snowpeople in the window of a bakery.
The window of a bakery! You don’t throw that compliment around willy-nilly, so how did Bex not win? How did she come fifth on this terrible list? Only the marshmallow snowpeople know the truth.
4) Justine Smith’s Berry Christmouse
Justine’s cake may have spent some time on the floor, but her finished product was a vision of style, grace and wrinkly icing, “because that’s what my skin is like,” Justine reckoned. Put that cake on a postage stamp, put it on the 1pm press conference and let Tova ask it the first question, or put it in my gob. Either one is fine.
3) Laura Daniel’s Lifelike Lolly Cake
Laura outsmarted everyone by making her selfie cake out of lolly cake, a mix that doesn’t need to be cooked and can be easily molded into a variety of shapes, like an eyeball or nostril. Not only did this charming cake perfectly capture Laura’s energy and spirit, but it proved once and for all that lolly cake is indeed the food of champions.
2) Simon Bridges’ Summer Santa Selfie
At first glance, this cake looks like a chocolate shitstorm, but I beseech you, look again. Stare deep into those hypnotic red eyes and behold that buttony grimace, because Simon Bridges has created a masterpiece. Moist is the reason for the season, after all.
As a portrait of a politician on holiday, Simon gets full marks for using chocolate hail as three-day stubble, and any time you introduce an airplane lolly to a meal, you basically earn yourself a Michelin star. Best of all? Those ears. Everyone knows bananas are the best listeners, and Cake Simon has four of them. Call his electoral office now, his bananas are ready for you.
1) Josh Thomson’s Christmas Dinner Surprise
It’s a feast for the eyes, it’s food for the soul, it’s Josh Thomson’s head stuck on a chicken’s butt. This was an emotional bake for Josh, as his inspiration was a photo taken during the last Christmas he spent with his mum. “She would have loved to see this horrific cake,” he said, as Sue and Dean cut through the crispy skin to reveal a “sensational” red velvet cake with buttercream filling.
Sue and Dean adored it, the cupcake snowpeople wouldn’t shut up about it, and the $20,000 Star Baker prize went to Josh’s chosen charity Variety. It was a feel-good end to a feel-good special. Red velvet drumsticks and talking cupcakes? It really is the most wonderful time of the year.
The Great Kiwi Bake Off Christmas Special is available on TVNZ OnDemand.