The Great Kiwi Bake Off - Episode 1 Recap, cupcakes and kids' birthday treats

The jaunty music. The bunting. The soggy bottoms. The baking. Oh the baking!

Welcome to The Great Kiwi Bake Off, New Zealand. I hope you’ve eaten, because watching this on an empty stomach is the kind of torture that should only be reserved for those people you really, really do not like.

And look, there’s no point beating around the bush here. The British version of this glorious show is a modern broadcasting masterpiece. Nice telly with a deliciously sweet aftertaste, in the best way possible.

Forget politicians playing nice with their own parties and royal (baby shower) tours, this is not something we can risk screwing up, Aotearoa.

So, do Kiwi cooks have what it takes? Are our jokes just as naughty as the English greats? Apart from canned spaghetti and sausages, can anything edible really be cooked in a tent?

Guys, the answer is… yeah, I reckon.

But doing the real deciding is a duo you wouldn’t want to mess with in a dark alley armed only with a French Stick.

Meet the Dame of Desserts, Sue Fleischl, and Dean Brettschneider, the man who has baked his way around the world. She is the perfect combination of sass and serious expectations, while he plays her straight-man offsider who seems a little scared to be scary.

More importantly, we’re going to keep it simple and refer to them forever more as FleischlSchneider. 'Cos, it sounds so, uh, friendly.

To kick this whole crazy ride off, the Fleischl end of the hashtag tries to convince us cupcakes, which are the Signature Challenge, are "not terribly, technically difficult".

Sue has clearly never seen me in the kitchen.

And don’t even get me started on the children’s birthday cakes the bakers have to deliver for the Showstopper Bake. I am sweating at the very idea of ever having mini-me’s that demand I construct anything more than a supermarket sponge with a few 100’s and 1000’s.

Thankfully, these 12 bakers are exactly the kind of people you want – and expect – in the kitchen; salt-of-the-earth Kiwis (with a few quirky characters thrown in for good measure).

There’s Stacey, the stunning blue-haired, body-building, power-lifting tattoo artist, with the cake-themed outfits.

Jeff, who has eyes like the bluest ocean and a penchant for musical theatre (even if his wife calls his performance "rubbish" – hashtag SingItJeff.

Clayton’s bold approach to the first challenge is to get his "buttercream going, melting a bit of chocolate, decorate some stuff and have a beer – happy, happy". (So chilled out…show off!)

While Hottest Home Baker Joel bravely came out as a cupcake man to his rugby teammates – and then let out the Kiwiest of Kiwisms ("Aaaaaw Noooo-ah") when one of his little fellas ended up face-down on the floor.

Lovely Larissa and Adorable Annabel could be sisters. And Sonali’s relying on the luck of the Irish – and maybe getting the judges drunk on a booze-packed cupcake.

Hosts Hayley Sproull and Madeleine Sami seem to be big supporters of this tactical approach. And those two might need a wee drink.
After all, they have big shoes to fill, since, historically, Bake Off hosts are tasked with making sure TV’s nicest show doesn’t become sickly sweet.

Remember, there’s no cash prize, no car or profit to win. There’s no romance drama or singing and dancing. These people are just here to bake lovely food and, by proxy, are just lovely people.

If we didn’t have Hayley suggesting a bunny cake could maybe have real bunny in it, or Madeleine pointing out phallic decorations in the kitchen, there’s a very real concern the show would just have no bite.

And too much sweetness can be a bad thing. Just ask anyone who’s had to eat 12 birthday cakes.

There were show stopper highs and quite worrying lows. Cakes were dropped, and cakes were moist. There was dry ice and ear-less dinos and unicorns and mermaids.

In the end though, Angel Annabel was crowned the first ever New Zealand Star Baker with a buzzy bee cake that drew gasps, while Smiley Jennie, with her very wet cupcakes, and cute-but-a-little-cheaty, lolly-filled, marshmallow-coated Igloo cake, that was shown the door.

Was it a case of "I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed you sorta didn’t make any of this apart from the sponge" from FleischlSchneider? Maybe.

Should Ol’ Blue Eyes Jeff and his sloppy adult-only mess been shown the door instead? Perhaps.

But the bar has been well and truly set, the expectations shouted from the tent-top, and God help any baker who visits the supermarket on the way to the oven.

And more than anything, I hope Sue knows her probing "did you make the marshmallows?" will haunt my baking nightmares forever more.

The Great Kiwi Bakeoff is on TVNZ2 on Tuesdays at 7.30pm and then on TVNZ OnDemand

Bridget Jones is a TVNZ publicist and former entertainment reporter

Dean, Madeleine, Hayley and Sue from The Great Kiwi Bake Off.
Dean, Madeleine, Hayley and Sue from The Great Kiwi Bake Off. Source: TVNZ