The rain poured down on the Great Kiwi Bake Off this week. Were the gods crying because Clayton had gone, or because they’d heard it was ‘Free From’ Week? Tara Ward power ranks episode 7.
‘Free From’ Week is hardly the sexiest of baking topics, is it? It’s certainly no cock on a pie, and when it comes to baking the only thing I want to be ‘free from’ is a tight waistband and any judgement about eating dessert for breakfast.
But Free From Week was a worthy challenge that put both me and my elasticated fat pants to shame. This week GKBO was all about baking for food intolerances, as our final six bakers tackled two tricky gluten-free challenges. The first was an orange and lavender mousse cake, while the showstopper was a perfectly baked two-tiered cheesecake. Two whole tiers of cheese! Be still, my carb-loading heart.
Breaking news, cheesecakes are not just made of cheese. Who makes these rules? I need a word.
The kitchen was tense. The cakes were dense. Sue was all about the marriage of flavours, Larissa wanged on about the price of supermarket rhubarb, and Dean wished Joel’s cheesecake would start talking to him. Larissa and Joel were the only two yet to win Star Baker, but after seeing Sue and Dean’s reaction to his ’90s classic Lemon Lime Cheesecake, it’s fair to say Joel was up against the cookie dough wall.
It was another blessed day in the mixing bowl of life that we call the Great Kiwi Bake Off, so let’s slide into the power rankings like a hot knife through a sloppy cheesecake.
Joel was free from the GKBO tent after a soggy-bottomed cheesecake and a last placing in the technical challenge. “His soul was not in his food this week,” Sue said, while Dean was disappointed Joel’s citrus cheesecake didn’t put its hand up and sing “I’m lemon!”.
We were all disappointed that didn’t happen, Dean, it would have been amazing.
But in his typically chillaxed style, Joel built a cookie dough bridge and got over it before he’d even left the kitchen. “Fair enough,” he said bravely, before he disappeared into the darkness. Good night, sweet prince.
Is seepage a good thing? It’s hard to know, because Stacey is leading us on a journey of more highs and lows than the temperature gauge on her oven. One minute she’s Star Baker, the next she’s smearing cream cheese and marmalade together and hoping for the best. We’ve all been there, so smear away, my queen.
Annabel is a bloody smart baker AND she made a chai latte cheesecake that dissolved in Sue’s mouth AND she has cute pink tins. Is there no end to her brilliance?
Hannah’s stonkingly tasty cheesecake slid her right into this week’s top three, and she may as well book herself a bench for the grand final while she’s here. Hannah kept calm when the cream cheese hit the fan, did incredible things with spicy pumpkin, and her ginger left a kick all over Sue’s tongue. What more do you need, New Zealand?
Let us begin by paying tribute to Jeff’s knotted scarf, a feat of fashion that looks as complicated as the four braided challah he whipped up in Bread Week.
Jeff came, he baked, he sang his little heart all the way into the top two. Nothing fazed Jeff this week, not when Sue asked if his top base would talk nicely to his bottom base, or when Dean reckoned his winter-themed cheesecake masterpiece was “fluffy, melty, cloudy”. That’s “yum” in cheesecake speak, so keep up the great baking/scarf work, Jeff.
STAR BAKER: Larissa
Look at how stoked our Star Baker was this week. It’s like the sun has come out.
Our wee champ Larissa knocked it out of the tent, winning with a moist layer cake and a rhubarb cheesecake that made Sue waggle her fingers in delight. Nothing makes me happier than a) seeing Sue happy and b) seeing Larissa happy and there was so much joy by the end of this episode that if my brain was a cheesecake it would have exploded into an ecstatic mess of marmalade and cream cheese.
“She cracked it,” said Sue, and the nation waggled their fingers in agreement. If I feel this proud of Larissa for winning Star Baker, imagine how John the Rabbit Feels?
Join The Spinoff Members for as little as $1 to help us hire more journalists and do more investigations. Or get a free Toby Morris-designed tea towel when you contribute $80 or more over a year.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.