The Great Australian Bake Off, Season 5 Episode 4: Nostalgia #BakeOffAU

As it turns out, the week after the best episode of the series is one of the worst episodes of Bake Off I’ve ever seen (Kiwi Bake Off remains its own special category #TeamMammoth). It’s nostalgia week. Hooray? Nostalgia week is all about classic Australian bakes, when half of the bakers weren’t even born in Australia – which is its another issue that Chris and Kristie have already covered on The Washing Up.

Signature: Layered Pavlova

It’s pretty self explanatory. There must be at least two or three (it’s been a while since I watched) layers of pavlova and the bakers can use whatever flavours they like.

Haydn made a layered berry pavlova with creme legere and three different berry syrups, topped with raspberry and crumbled chocolate. Matt and Maggie said that the cream was dominating and they weren’t getting the berry flavours, but the pavlova itself was good.

Hoda made a baklava pavlova, which appealed to her nostalgia, with walnut praline, mascarpone and roasted figs. The pavlova itself looked good and the walnut was great, but it didn’t have enough acidity. Maggie suggested adding a lemon curd.

Ashley‘s pavlova was hazelnut with poached pear, as well as a pear and creme fraiche filling. The presentation was fantastic and there was just enough of the pear to take away from the sweetness.

The first thing we saw from Aaron this week was him crushing sugar so it wasn’t as crunchy in his earl grey meringue, with a blood orange curd and vanilla whipped cream that he nicknamed “The Bloody Earl.” It looked amazing and had a ice crunch. The flavours went really well together, which is not what they expected as they were worried about the vanilla, and they loved the curd. Aaron, I’ll be in Melbourne in March, May and June this year, I expect some pav.

Nurman made a Summertime in Hong Kong pavlova with Oolong cream, lychees and ginger strawberries. He was disappoined with the result as his cream curdled. The judges said that the flavours were there, but there was no crunch.

Jawin made a Halo-Halo pavlova inspired by Laotian flavours with a taro meringue, durian cream, mango and pandan. All that Mel knows about durian is that “it stinks and it’s banned in a lot of countries”. The meringue had crunch and chewiness and Maggie loved the flavours.

Ella was very scientific about her meringue, weighing out her eggwhites and measuring the sugar accordingly. She may be this sesason’s booze hound with her Cab Sav Pav with blackberry curd, mascarpone cream, stewed plums and cabernet sauvignon syrup. The circles of her pavlova were connected to make a flower shape and there was space in the middle for her syrup. Maggie loved the texture and the judges said the flavour combination was outstanding.

Carmel‘s pavlova had vino cotto figs, mascarpone and honey cream and caramelised walnuts. The judges said it was beutiful and a great meringue, but it was slightly soft, most likely because the oven had been a little too hot.

Nav put lime rind in his meringue mixture to counteract the eggy smell. He also made a lime curd and basil mascarpone cream for his filling, with macerated strawberries on top. The judges said the presentation wasn’t the greatest. Maggie liked the strawberries and the crunch, but the flavour combination was a bit strange with too many flavours.

Technical: Apricot steamed puddings with ginger anglaise

This isn’t very nostalgic for me, but I’m interested to see how the Australians lived back in the day.

Jawin

Jawin, I’d like to let you know that as someone who is less than five years older than you, I’ve never had an apricot steamed pudding with ginger anglaise. It’s not something that was made widely and it’s therefore an odd choice for a signature celebrating nostalgia.

Anyway, Maggie’s tips to the bakers are: “use your tips, pay close attention because all is not as it steams.” Maggie’s recipe uses lard as the fat in the pudding, which the bakers hate the smell of, and also Nav is Muslim. It seems like the recipe should’ve been altered to accommodate this.

Meanwhile, Aaron is talking about how all the bakers have become a family. Carmel became the mum very quickly, while Nurman is the “naughty baby”.

Once again, there’s a lot of people helping each other in the technical, which isn’t what this particular challenge is supposed to be about. Carmel finished well before everyone else, proving that she’s a force to be reckoned with.

From last to first, we have Haydn, Hoda, Nav, Jawin, Ash, Nurman, Aaron, Ella and Carmel.

At tea time, the judges say that Aaron and Carmel are doing well, but they ask if Carmel needs to push herself. Prior to this exact moment, no one has ever said anything about Carmel playing it safe. It’s bizarre. Haydn and Nav are in trouble, but apparently not Hoda, who has so far been baking on Nav’s level, which is above Haydn’s.

Showstopper: Reinvent an Aussie classic

This is perhaps the most obtuse challenge they’ve had in terms of a brief, which was to mash up at least two iconic Australian treats. Let’s see how that went, shall we?

Haydn decided to mash up lamingtons with frogs in a pond, which is a lot of lamingtons with the tops carved out and jelly and chocolate frogs put in. The judges said it was a good concept and asked if it was enough. Haydn was also worried it was too simple, which he wanted to counteract by making 30 of them. Then when it came to assembling the frogs in a pond, he only had one chocolate mould and enough time to make 9 frogs! Furthermore, the lamingtons weren’t big enough that you could see the pond underneath. Maggie liked the flavour of the jelly and it was a good lamington, but not a showstopper.

Hoda made a cherry ripe lamington cake, which was a lamington cake with cherry jam in the middle instead of raspberry. Matt and Maggie said that the sponge was good – at least we know Hoda can make a sponge after she didn’t even make one for the sponge challenge in the very first week and that the treats were perfectly mashed together, which isn’t difficult considering how similar they already were. Maggie wanted more chocolate soaking into the sponge.

Ashley spoke at the beginning of the challenge about trying to head off a migraine, but she got through the challenge. Her caramello koala cake had chocolate and caramel cakes decorated with a bush tableau and chocolate bark. I thought it was beautiful and wanted to eat it immediately. The judges said the caramel cake was very good, but the chocolate was slightly dry.

Aaron starts the challenge by showing us his nan’s old sifter and by the look of it, this is the same nan who had the wallpaper from biscuit week. He made vanilla slice wagon wheels with raspberry mousseline. The wagon weel was great with good crunch and jam, but the ganache was slightly too thick and it didn’t have the texture of a vanilla slice.

Nurman made a tart inspired by Anzac biscuits, jelly slice and pavlova. The base was Ansac, with panna cotta and jelly layers, and decorative meringue shards. The judges said the tart shell was immaculate, the panna cotta was silky and the flavour was great. They commented again on how much they loved the tart shell before moving on.

Jawin made an ice cream cake inspired by Vienetta with cornflake ice cream and dulce cream. I got slightly confused by Maggie talking about sticky jaw, but I think based on conversations with other people that it’s her word for honey joys. Regional language! The judges said the flavour was fantastic and that they enjoyed the crunch of the cornflakes.

Ella made macarons in colours inspired by fairy bread. She assembled them in a tower, but it wasn’t really much of a mashup. Macarons aren’t an Australian classic, unless Adriano Zumbo’s debut on Masterchef in 2009 now counts as a classic. Admittedly, I know what she was going for – the macaronswere flavoured with choc mint, vanilla and choc caramel – flavours of classic Arnott’s biscuits. However that wasn’t explicitly stated and the audience had to infer that information from the show. Furthermore, Ella’s macarons fell of the cone she was assembling them on and all she could present to the judges was a plate of macarons. They said it was difficult to comment on them.

Carmel made a lamington trifle cake with neither sponge nor jelly, which tortured the judges. They wanted to know what she was doing, but Carmel kept telling them it was a surprise. When the judges tried it, they said it really was the flavour of trifle and lamington and they absolutely loved it. They also said it was quite alcoholic, which is when Carmel revealed she’d put sherry in it.

Nav made a harbour bridge cake with an orange butter cake sponge inspired by fairy bread, lamingtons and vanilla slice. Admittedly this didn’t work as well as he would’ve liked, and my suggestion would’ve been to make a funfetti cake rather than putting the sprinkles on the outside. Matt and Maggie talked about fundamental flaws in the construction, and the vanilla being too thick for the cake. However, I thought he tried something ambitious that didn’t quite work the way he wanted, compared to, I don’t know, nine lamingtons. This is the second time I haven’t agreed with the judging on Nav’s showstopper.

Back in the potting shed, the judges talked about Carmel and Nurman being in contention for Star Baker as well as Haydn and Nav being in trouble. Once again, one of these is far better than the other.

Back in the tent, there’s at least some justice as Carmel is crowned star baker. She’s been an absolute delight this week, please show more of her. Meanwhile, Nav goes home for reasons that I can’t really fathom.

I normally trust Matt and Maggie’s judging, but there was clearly something happening here that we didn’t see. Nav didn’t have that bad a week, Haydn was awful for the second time and despite coming second last in the technical, Hoda was never in trouble. This is the second time they’ve said Nav’s showstopper wasn’t up to scratch when I thought it was great. You can tell when there’s network interference (like season 3 of Lost when Damon and Carlton were trying to negotiate an end date with ABC and we got that episode about Jack’s tattoos), and it’s pretty clear that’s what happened with Hoda. Sure, she did okay in the showstopper, but all she made was a lamington cake with cherry jam instead of raspberry, which also made it a cherry ripe.

Foxtel is a subscription service and for a long time they didn’t have any competition. Now they have oodles of competition with free to air, as well as cheaper streaming services. Between Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hayu, Kayo and Paramount Plus, there are oodles of options. Foxtel needs subscribers and they thought they could get them with Hoda. But pricing isn’t competitive and people can already get her content on social media for free. And if you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned Foxtel’s own streaming service Binge, it’s because the only way to watch The Great Australian Bake Off on Binge is if you stream the Lifestyle channel live. It’s not available on demand. I had to talk my parents how to do get the livestream that during the first week. After trying for a while and then having connection issues they decided to switch to the tennis. Foxtel’s entire strategy is based on getting a younger audience to subscribe for a service they haven’t typically subscribed to because there are cheaper alternatives. Otherwise they’ll find it through other means. Piracy still exists.

Also Haydn is still on this show. Between this and biscuit week, it’s one of the worst showings I’ve seen from a baker. And they keep editing to show him singing! It’s not charming, it’s annoying. When you see more talented bakers getting eliminated for reasons you don’t see or understand, you wonder what’s going on. And if it’s because Haydn was Star Baker last week, then you’re judging it wrong. You judge based on that week. We seem to have walked into an alternate universe version of Bake Off and I don’t like it.

Other thoughts

  • Part of the reason this is so late is because I spent the weekend with my parents. A lot of it is because I’ve been putting it off due to my lack of enjoyment of the episode. My weekends continue to be packed, so we’ll see how this week’s episode goes.
  • Re Ella going home: she did enough in the first two challenges to stay, but I wish there’d been a little more discussion of her showstopper in Tea time 2.0
  • Show recommendations from various streaming services! Netflix: I honestly don’t watch a lot of Netflix, but I’m excited for the next season of Bridgerton. I read all the books last year. Stan: Girls 5Eva – Peacock want to launch in Australia which will remove it from Stan, but pleeeease watch it. Prime: Alex Rider. Disney+: WandaVision is still my favourite Disney/MCU show and Wanda is the only reason I care about the upcoming Doctor Strange film. Paramount+: Like everyone else who’s seen Yellowjackets, I was talking about nothing else for a month. I don’t watch reality television or sport, so Hayu and Kayo mean nothing to me.
  • I’ll be watching tonight’s episode live, see you on Twitter!

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