Look away Paleo Pete. This is going to hurt.
It’s bread week and the proof of the bakers’ skill are in the scones.
Actually, better make that mum’s scones, because this Signature Challenge is the battle of the Mother Bakers.
But first, the Technical, where no one’s mother can help - unless she happens to be a master braider.
Alarm bells should have sounded when Dean told the bakers to “keep things tight” - before quickly walking away. And for Vanessa, they did, as she breathlessly whispered “it’s a plait” like we were watching Jaws.
Yes Vanessa, it was a plait. A Challah, to be precise. The plaited bread that’s not just plaited - it’s bread plaited to make it look like a cushy pillow of delicious dough.
Keep covering your eyes, Art and Matilda.
Larissa, our resident engineer, loves bread because it is science in a tin. But in a bold move, Stacey admits she’s never actually made bread before.
It’s quite an admission, and omission, to be honest. Surely you’d try whipping up a ciabatta or sourdough or thick cut toast bread like the one dying at the back of my freezer at least once before stepping into The Tent!
But hey, maybe that “let’s wing it” attitude is the way to go - just look at Joel.
Speaking of The Dude... New Zealand, we certainly need to talk about Joel. Eternally third, and eternally unaware of what he’s doing.
As Madeleine so eloquently put it, “It feels like he doesn't have much going on in the kitchen at all…” which is not a euphemism.
He gave us our first shaka of the series, and to be perfectly honest, I’m shocked it took this long.
I’ve written before (and spoken at length to anyone who’ll listen) about this laid back cat and here’s the deal: either he’s as lucky as he claims, or he’s fooling us, and is playing the greatest game of Unassuming Man Reality Contestant we’ve ever seen.
So, what is it? Because if this is luck, I’m taking you to the Boxing Day races my leprechaun friend. And if it’s an act, get thee to Shortland Street. Stat.
Anyway back in the kitchen, Vanessa did not have luck or anything else on her side. She failed to recover from the Plait Attack and accidentally left egg out of her bake.
“I need to have a bloody good lemon curd if I’m going to have a dodgy Challah,” she muttered, almost desperately.
Do you know who didn’t have a dodgy Challah? Sonali. Why? Because no one has ever poured milk as slowly as she did. It was like time standing still.
But the moment Dean said he could “sniff it all day” (muttered as he inhaled her bread deeply, and maybe drooled a little) it was clear taking it slow had paid off. Congrats to our Technical Challah winner.
Fast forward to the Signature Bake and it was time for the mums of GKBO to take their respective corners. Twelve scones, six savoury, six sweet, all must impress #FleischlSchneider and only one will survive.*
In the blue corner, Hannah and a tiny photo of Hannah’s Mum presented a “zingy” little buttermilk number with white choc drizzle and apricot jam.
In red, we had Clayton and the energy of Mrs Clayton with their cinnamon, date and walnut pinwheel. Dean’s verdict: “not as bad as it looks”. Great. Good.
Stacey was all about the tongue twisters (and that gorgeous Southland accent) with her lemon curd muffin with a clotted cream and curd.
Larissa, however, wasn’t really feeling herself, as the kids say.
“Rustic is the nice way of saying ugly. Maybe that’s true - maybe I’m a baker of ugly things.” Sob.
But it was Vanessa who was really suffering.
By her own admission, she was on Planet La La Land after the Challah Challenge and hadn’t come back to Planet Bake Off Tent by the time scones rolled around.
The writing was on the wall when our favourite astro-baker called her own scones dry, well before the judges got their hungry mitts on them.
And so, even though Jazzy Jeffery presented a pile of soggy kumara scones, at the end of the day, Vanessa was just mediocre in Sue’s books. And just like that, she was gone.
Was she mad about it? Nah.
“I started this whole thing after a couple of glasses of champagne, and I’ll be finishing after a couple of glasses of champagne.”
And who could deny the infectious enthusiasm of this week’s Star Baker, Sonali. Her Challah was choice and her scones light, fluffy and just enough to elicit funny noises from Sue.
And when Sue makes funny noises, you know you are on to a winner.
(*No extra mums were present or hurt in the making of these scones)
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.