About that new season of #BakeOffAU

At 10 o’clock this morning, Foxtel issued a press release announcing that they had commissioned a sixth season of The Great Australian Bake Off, but with a brand new cast. I tweeted about it briefly, but didn’t have time to say much because I was working. Before I continue, I just want to say that what I haven’t had contact with anyone from Foxtel or BBC Australia and that this is what I think happened based on the wording of the release.

Claire Hooper, Maggie Beer, Matt Moran and Mel Buttle. Image courtesy of Foxtel
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Here is the section of the press release regarding Matt and Maggie:

Maggie Beer and Matt Moran have made the decision, that after an incredible five seasons, it is time to step down as judges on The Great Australian Bake Off, with Maggie wanting to dedicate more time to her foundation and business and Matt focusing on many of his other commitments.

Maggie Beer said: “I have had a wonderful five seasons because of the friendship that felt like family working with Matt, Claire, Mel and our crew, and I will always be part of the Bake Off family. I have however made the decision that it is time to take a break. It has been such a privilege to help mentor the fine baking talent we have in this country, and I look forward to seeing what sweet treats are in store for this upcoming season.”

Matt Moran said: “It’s been an incredible five seasons on The Great Australian Bake Off, working alongside my dear friend Maggie and Mel, and Claire, who made me laugh every day. Thank you to all the crew and contestants over the years, you’ve become such good friends of mine. I am now excited to focus on my own restaurants and some new projects. I wish the new cast and bakers all the best.”

This is sad, but unsurprising. Given the tragic news that Maggie’s daughter Saskia passed away suddenly in 2020, it’s not a surprise that she’s chosen to step down. There was speculation that she might have stepped down before the most recent season, but she chose to continue. I can also see Matt not wanting to continue without Maggie. The interesting part is regarding Mel and Claire (emphasis mine):

After much consideration, the decision has been made to recast the hosts and judges for season 6 of The Great Australian Bake Off with FOXTEL and BBC Studios Production ANZ to announce the new cast line up.

Marshall Heald, Executive Director of FOXTEL Entertainment said: “We are incredibly grateful for the contribution the Bake Off team- judges Maggie and Matt and hosts Mel Buttle and Claire Hooper have made to establish the format in this country and to help make it the success it is for FOXTEL. We look forward to sharing the new cast line-up in coming weeks ahead of production.”

Before you say anything, I know that the first sentence paragraph isn’t in the MediaWeek article I linked to. Anyway, Mel and Claire didn’t choose to step down from their roles as hosts. That happened somewhere in the production process. Mel and Claire weren’t asked to provide a comment, while Matt and Maggie were given that opportunity. I’m not a public figure, but I have been made redundant (on R U OK Day nonetheless). This feels a lot like that. I wasn’t allowed to talk about the process as it was ongoing, and an email went out to all staff not long after I was told. It sucks for them and for us, because Mel and Claire are in the top tier of Bake Off hosts in any iteration of the show.

I’d like to thank Matt, Maggie, Mel and Claire for making the Australian version of this show delightful, and I’ll miss all of them.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll hopefully be making gif tributes to the hosts and judges (either on my old blog or this one) over the weekend. And I hope Foxtel and BBC get the new casting right. Fingers and toes crossed.

The Great Australian Bake Off, Season 5 Episode 9: Patisserie #BakeOffAU

The day before this episode aired, I told my housemate that it was patisserie week. Her response was “haven’t they already done that?” Yes they did, it was French week in episode 6. So it was an odd start to the semi finals. Also, as I kept saying on Twitter, the challenges felt like they were week 6 level. It’s the semi final, so why are we doing breakfast pastries? Let’s get into it.

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The Great Australian Bake Off, Season 5 Episodes 5&6 | #BakeOffAU

So, as it turns out, my life has been spectacularly busy and I’ve barely had the energy for these. Never fear, there will be two mini recaps, followed by full recaps for the last two episodes of the season. So, let’s get started.

Episode 5: Home Grown

This was a really good episode, and I loved the theme for the week. Unfortunately it got off to a bad start with a reminder of what happened last week, then we were told Ash was going home due to illness. I know The Washing Up have an upcoming interview with her, so keep an eye on their social media.

Signature: Galette

The family-sized open galette could be sweet or savoury, but it had to have two ingredients that were native to Australia. I really appreciated that Haydn did research on the Indigenous community where the show was filmed, the Wangal people (which is the same for where I live, about 10 minutes from the shed).

The two signatures that stood out to me this week were Nurman’s pepper berry, kunzea, wallaby and caramelised onion galette, and Jawin’s lemon myrtle, kangaroo and fried saltbush galette. I especially like that Jawin put cheese in his pastry.

The most confusing bake was Ella’s “Australian in America” galette which was a take on pecan pie with wattleseed pastry and macadamia custard. I get what she was going for, but this is another instance of her stretching the brief – if you’re showcasing Australian flavours, don’t make an American themed dessert! It’s not in the spirit of the brief. Meanwhile Aaron had a great start to the week with his blackberry and Davidson plum galette with lemon myrtle pastry.

One thing that annoyed me with the judging of this challenge was the judges criticising the bakers if their pastry wasn’t flaky. I’m not sure exactly how challenges are set, but it seems like production just said “make a galette” without taking the judges preferences into account, which means the bakers were judged in something that wasn’t in the brief.

Technical: Macadamia, aniseed myrtle and bush honey ‘trifle

The trifle is in inverted commas because it’s more of a jelly slice. Maggies hints to the bakers were build a firm foundation, consistency is key, and be cool. Mel said that Matt and Maggie were off to do a bush survival course and honestly I’d watch that show. They’d do better than most people would expect due to their knowledge of edible plants. And Matt can butcher an animal if necessary.

So, the trifle slice is composed of a macadamia sponge, aniseed myrtle custard and bush honey cream layers, which needed to be frozen before the next layer was added. Oh, and a Davidson plum jelly on top, because it has bled over from MasterChef as the new favourtie ingredient.

From last to first we had: Jawin, Nurman, Hoda, Ella, Haydn, Carmel and Aaron.

At tea time, Maggie talked about all the lemon myrtle plants she’s murdered, and the judges don’t want to commit to saying who ‘s doing the best so far, which is ridiculous, because the only person who hasn’t made any mistakes this week is Aaron.

Showstopper: Bread sculpture

For the showstopper, the bakers had to make a bread sculpture inspired by the natural world, with at least two native Australian ingredients. Mel said that her mum’s apricot chicken didn’t count.

Looking back at my notes, I got really annoyed about Matt and Maggie calling Haydn “the bread guy,” because he should’ve gone home last week. There are some other really talented bread bakers in the shed, but because it’s the thing Haydn can do, he’s “the bread guy.” However, he did make a really good echidnas and goanna with cinnamon myrtle, lemon myrtle and wattleseed breads.

The most amusing aspect of the episode was Aaron and Nurman’s battle of the blue ringed octopi. Nurman’s “chonky boi” was lemon myrtle and honey with coral tuiles, and a kunzea and wattleseed damper. I was concerned about the tuile, but everything worked out well, with the judges describing it as light, fluffy and airy. Aaron upped the ante on a bread challenge by making a rye bread as well as a white. His macadamia and wattleseed octopus was accompanied by macadamia and rye sea creatures. Matt and Maggie loved them and said each was different but fantastic, and the sweetness of the wattleseed bread made it moreish.

It also needs to be noted that Carmel made the pun of the series so far (and as far as I’m concerned it still hasn’t been topped) with her “Spanicrockita.” Her crocodile family was filled with cheese and cured meats, with bush tomato and pepper berry. Matt and Maggie said they looked really good and were quite tasty.

To no one’s surprise A. A. Ron won Star Baker, and… no one went home. Which is fine, because everyone did well and Ash went home at the start of the week, but I wish they’d mentioned her again rather than what seemed like a quick sentence at the beginning of the episode before she was seemingly forgotten. Anyway, Aaron was great, and I love that they showed the clip of him falling down.

Episode 6: French

I love a French week! Patisserie is a difficult skill, and…. wait, Week 9 is patisserie week? I already have something prepared for that, so don’t worry. The highlight of the episode was Matt trying to say things with a French accent compared to Aaron’s, which was beautiful.

Signature: Mille feuille

Finally, some puff pastry. The bakers had 2 hours to make 8 mille feuille with 3 layers of pastry and 2 layers of filling. It sounds like an equation. Solve for x.

Jawin’s comment on the patience required for pastry: “Patience is a virtue I do not have.” His observations are always very astute, and he has a good level of self-awareness about him.

His mille feuilles had a salted duck egg creme patissiere, pumpkin mousse and a fish sauce caramel. Matt was skeptical about the caramel, but Jawin was right, it’s just a different kind of caramel. Also they do it all the time on MasterChef, it’s basically passe now, along with the Davidson plum. Maggie was surprised that the caramel was good, clearly these two haven’t spent much time watching MasterChef.

Nurman’s mille feuilles were sideways as he tried to do something different, and filled with a chocolate cremeux and honey mascarpone cream. The pastry was amazing, but it needed more filling Carmel made boozy tiramisu mille feuille, telling us that you can’t drive home after eating her tiramisu. Good to know in advance. The layers were good, but Maggie wanted more of a coffee hit. Matt liked the pastry and the flavour

Haydn had some time issues with this one, only serving up 5 mille feuilles instead of 8. The judges said that the creme pat was good, while the pastry had issues.

Hoda has become the narrator of this episode, but still managed to put up her pastries. The flavour was good and not as sweet as the judges expected.

Aaron’s continuing his hot streak from last week with his bourgeois baklava with pistachio mascarpone. The layers were impressive and the pastry had a good crunch.

Signature: Brioche a tete

I love brioche a tete. There was a local patisserie that made amazing brioche a tete (also probably the closest bakery to the Bake Off shed), but it shut down in 2020. I’m still not okay.

This is a Matt Moran recipe, and it comes with a honeyed goat’s curd and macerated grapes. My suggestion is to serve it with a lemon sorbet. Chef’s kiss.

This wasn’t a particularly exciting technical, everyone got it done, except for the two that Aaron left in the tin. During the judging there was a little too much focus on the sides, which is exactly the same as the hamburger issue in Season 2. Also a perfect brioche a tete doesn’t need sides.

From last to first, we had Carmel (brioche was great, but her cheese was over whipped), Jawin, Hoda, Haydn, Aaron, Nurman and Ella.

Showstopper: Religieuse a l’ancienne

A traditional choux pastry tower in the shape of a nun! Everyone knows about those, right? Nurman said he used to make choux pastry fortnightly, which is so very close to saying “this is my week” to get us worried.

Aaron made a “marbled nun” from chocolate and vanilla filled choux with a hazelnut praline. He added glucose to his chocolate to make it shine, and also apparently low fat (from dietician Mel Buttle). The judges were impressed with the structure, the choux was excellent and it had good praline flavour.

Haydn had someissues with this challenge and pretty much told Mel that he wasn’t going to make it this week. He made a lavender pastry cream and almond praline for his choux, of which there were many. He didn’t have time to glue them together with caramel and stacked them. The judges liked elements of it, but it wasn’t what they were after.

I’m not really going to comment on the rest of this challenge because I think Chris and Kristie did an excellent job over on The Washing Up, talking about the different edits that Hoda and Carmel got by virtue of their age. They said everything better than I could and it’s better to link to it than try and regurgitate/plagiarise. Needless to say, Carmel is an absolute delight and a talented baker to boot.

Anyway, Aaron was Star Baker and Haydn went home. Another week of Bake Off over already.

Other thoughts:

  • Programming note: I’m hoping to have another mini post of 7 and 8 out ASAP, followed by a full recap of 9 by the end of the weekend.
  • Things that happened in my life between episode 4 and now: a nursing strike, my parents visited for a weekend, nonstop torrential rain for two weeks (of course the one day I went into the office was the day that the firemen came by to clear the drain because the creek had burst its banks), my manager resigned, I had a job interview, I flew to Melbourne for my nephew’s birthday (he had a Numberblocks cake, exclaiming “It’s 3!” when he saw it. Now he thinks all cakes represent the age the person is turning), and last week and this week I’ve been the only admin support in a team of 30 people. The timing just hasn’t been great.

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.

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The Great Australian Bake Off, Season 5 Episode 3: Bread #BakeOffAU

Very VERY belatedly, it’s bread week! It’s my favourite staple week of the series, and this is the first great episode of the season. I wish I’d been able to watch this live, it was so much fun. After a couple of weeks of what I can only guess was post-lockdown “how do you people?,” the bakers are more relaxed and able to joke around with Mel and Claire more.

Matt Moran's Swedish Cinnamon & Cardamom Bread  (Kanellängd)  from The Great Australian Bake Off
Matt Moran’s cinnamon and cardamom Swedish bread.

Speaking of Mel and Claire, they’ve realised that they’ve used all the bread puns. There are none left! So they decide they’ll need to rely on funny faces, silly voices and Matt Moran bald jokes. I thought Matt looked like an academic with his glasses.

The bakers are excited. Aaron and Haydn are bread people and stop just short of saying the cursed phrase, “this is my week.” Hoda is not a bread person and utters the phrase “empty calories,” which made me furious. This is a baking show! Much like the limit, empty calories do not exist.

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The Great Australian Bake Off, Season 5 Episode 2: Biscuits #BakeOffAU

In the words of Claire Hooper, “Get the kettle on, it’s biscuit week.” My friends know that biscuit week is my least favourite of the early episodes. The showstoppers are usually are variation on “make a building out of biscuits” and it gets tiring. I love eating biscuits, but they don’t make the best television. The good news is that we already know Ella’s good at biscuits because she made a biscuit bra for her boob cake, something I will never tire of typing. On with the recap!

Claire Hooper, Maggie Beer, Matt Moran and Mel Buttle
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The Great Australian Bake Off, Season 5 Episode 1: Cake #BakeOffAU

We’re back! This show hasn’t aired in over two years, but it’s time to go back to the shed with Mel, Claire, Matt and Maggie, as well as 12 new bakers! And, as is tradition, we start with Cake Week.

Look at those beautiful faces, full of hope, passion for baking, and an unjustified fear of Matt Moran. You can read more about them here.

The twelve new contestants of the Great Australian Bake Off with Matt Moran, M
Season 5 cast of The Great Australian Bake Off. Image courtesy of Foxtel.

Mel and Claire can’t seem to find the shed, which is a television show that I would absolutely watch.

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