The Great Kiwi Bake Off: Choux-Stoppers galore

Apologies for not being here last week team. What did I miss? What? Joel’s gone? That’s it, I’m never going on holiday again.

Where was I if it wasn’t sitting on my couch getting hungry as the Tent filled with food? So kind of you to care.

I was jaunting around Europe, thanks for asking. Portugal, France and Denmark, where I basically just ate a lot of egg tarts, croissants and, yes, Danish pastries.

Oh, and by absolute coincidence, this week our top five are on pastry-making duty. As I now count myself as a bit of an expert on the topic, this is wonderful timing.

First up was the technical bake and the judges demanded a flock of choux swans.

Not shoe swans, cos that would just be weird. Way weirder than cream-filled pastries in the form of the most terrifying bird species…ask my family about the time I was chased by a swan while wearing 1980s neon - it’s a classic Kiwi horror story.

We flew (sorry!) through this bizarre and wonderfully retro challenge, with all the grace of the real-life animals. And by that, I mean none at all because they are monsters. (The swans, not the bakers.)

Between Hannah struggling to figure out where her birds’ heads stopped, and the bums began, and the fact Stacey’s bodies were just too small for her heads, it was almost like the bakers needed a vet on hand to help them figure things out.

Not Larissa though. She didn’t need anyone’s help, deciding to pretty much ignore the entire recipe. Rather surprisingly, it didn’t mean she was destined for failure. Not quite.

While Sue “David Attenborough” Fleischl decided Larissa had actually made penguins, it was actually Annabel who had soft pastry that landed her in *gasp* last place.

And at the other end of the swanny success spectrum, Jeff’s winning choux-stoppers were beautiful, proud and apparently (I think you mean confusingly, Dean) sounded like Christmas - we’re just a couple of birds short of “Seven swans a-swimming”.

A choux-swan. Source: 1 NEWS

The semi-confusion continued into the Signature Bake.

Make a sweet breakfast pastry, the judge’s requested. Make a savoury breakfast pastry, the judges demanded.

Should it be a croissant? Maybe. Croissant-influenced? Perhaps. What actually is a bloody breakfast pastry? I don’t think anyone could tell us.

But if you asked Jeff, a breakfast pastry (or Khachapuri) resembles, well, bread.

Wake up Jeff!

Sue’s whispers about empty, layer-less bread dough hinted she was far from impressed. Thankfully, he found semi-redemption by deep frying his sweet treat - and to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure why that wasn’t just awarded an automatic win there and then.

Across the kitchen, Sue was taken with Hannah’s combo of sticky hazelnut pastries and a couple of salmon and cream cheese numbers, calling them “unctuous”. And has there ever been a better word uttered?

Stacey was the boldest of the bakers, using some sort of fancy yeast that everyone else was far too scared to even make eye-contact with, and meant her pastries were meant to take way longer than everyone else. #PrayforStacey.

If it worked, she promised to get a croissant tattoo on her bum, and given the judges adored her apple and cinnamon and prosciutto and gruyere (um, yum!) creations, it must be time to get the needle warmed up.

Even Annabel’s broccoli (um, what?) bake was lapped up by a disbelieving Sue and Dean, proving hipster culture should not be sneered at, no matter how truly terrible and basically ridiculous it might sound.

Larissa, however, was not doing as well.

There was undercooked pastry, a cold runny egg and just general unhappiness from the show’s experts. Unsurprisingly, things were looking shaky for the loveable Larissa...

Stacey knocked it out of the park, which was no surprise really, when she was the only one to make fancy pastry and succeed. (The question remains – when will we see that croissant tattoo?)

And then, despite the fact wee Jeff presented the judges with bread, rather than pastry, it was indeed Larissa who waved farewell to a semi-final spot and hello again to her bunny John, who has been waiting patiently for her at home and is possibly the real break-out star of this whole wonderful thing.

Although, I think we can all agree Larissa was a blimmin’ superstar in her own right (remember the cockerel pie?!) and she will be missed as we inch closer to the flippin’ finale.

But if nothing else, she got to walk away with an inspirational speech from the majestic Sue - and that is a prize no one can take away from her.

The Great Kiwi Bake Off is on TVNZ 2 on Tuesdays at 7.30pm and then on TVNZ OnDemand

Bridget Jones is a TVNZ publicist and former entertainment reporter.

Hannah makes impressive hazelnut pastries under the watchful glare of Hayley and Madeleine . Source: TVNZ

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