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The Great Kiwi Bake Off: A naughty tart and a lot of pastry

Pies and tarts week makes me think of tarts and vicars' parties, but it is actually very different and that probably says a lot more about me than anything going on with the bakers.

Although with all the talk, this week, of soggy bottoms (we had our first, New Zealand!) and naughty rooster pies (just think about it…I’ll wait...yip, there you go), the slightly smutty tone wasn’t all that far off a very-inappropriate-for-2018-party theme. And it was glorious.

But silliness aside, pies and tarts week was serious business - and actually just code for pastry, a whole lot of pastry. Drool.

Hannah puts herself out there as an early favourite - Pie Day, Friday is a real thing in her house. I’m waiting for my invite.

But first, the tarts. Well, the tortes, to be precise.

We started with a Linzer torte (or “tort-aye?” if you listen to Kiwi Bloke Joel). It’s a delicate bake, filled with jam and topped with a spice melting moment on top. Yeah, I’d have a bit of that.

Jam became wrinkly skin, trellis patterns became squiggles, speed cooling became an Olympic sport and Jeffery fell apart - or at least his torte did.

Was it The Curse of The Star Baker? Almost...

Joel produced a tender wee tart, but Clayton’s side collapsed. Hannah made a “real beauty” on top but, uh oh, “soggy bottom”.

Annabel made a lovely tart, but her nozzle was too big, while Larissa went too close with her piping.

Stacey also made things a little tight, but it didn’t matter since her torte was a thing of flippin’ beauty inside. All hail the Queen of Tarts.

It wasn’t all fun and games in The Tent though - things are getting very serious as we wander towards the business end of the competition.

Concentration faces were on, heads were down, and bums were up as the contestants’ eyes were glued to their ovens.

And I know they were making sweet treats, but did I sense some beef between Joel and Clayton, after the chief chitter chatterer was told to keep the noise down?

(Nah, Joel can’t fight with anyone - turns out he just told his mate to zip it, sweetie to have a better chance of seeing his grand plans come to life. Bless.)

“I’d like to stop talking, but does a flamingo forget how to fly?”

Oh Clayton. Fly high, you crazy bird man.

And fly he did - right out of The Tent, with a disaster of a signature bake. Because it turns out, Clayton’s baking power lies in his ability to never shush.

As he kept his lips locked tight, his attempt at a family pie (sweet or savoury) just got more and more ridiculous.

One minute it was called “One night in Bangpork”, the next it was “Goodbye Pulled Pork Pie”, but the whole time it was a bit of a hot mess; a pulled pork pie, with peas and spinach, a duck-fat roasted, kumara and potato checkerboard pattern on top, and come puff pastry extras.

Sue put it best when she simply said, “I’m confused”.

For the rest of the bakers, it was a mixed bag.

Joel’s chicken and leek number had a top that looked like it was knitted - and a bottom that was a little undercooked.

Meanwhile, Jeff’s blackberry pie (with custard inside!) was “absolutely delicious”, Annabel’s peach, pear and basil dish was exotic, but a little floury, while Stacey’s triple berry, apple pie - which a giddy little Dean called “the bomb” in a mid-bake, sneaky taste - was picture perfect.

Hannah, who believes pastry can smell fear, showed none, instead delivering a sublime chicken, bacon and pesto number that you could almost smell as it was pulled out of the oven.

Over on the other side of The Tent, Larissa and Sue were both talking dirty.

“I love a saucy pie,” said Sue.

“The saucier the inside, the more likely you are to have a soggy bottom…” warned Larissa.

And Larissa’s pie was certainly saucy. The pastry cockerel standing proud on top her chicken tikka creation was enough to make even Sue giggle. Yes, Fancy Sue!

Madeleine went to town with almost an entire stand-up act of playful jokes, and, if we are all honest, those moments are the very best thing about this whole franchise.

The naughty innuendo, the cheekiness, the sexy subtext - it’s what makes TV’s nicest show something that everyone can enjoy - and something that has endured around the world.

The raciness goes over the heads of the junior viewers, and the grownups have something to giggle at - apart from Clayton’s Wiggle-esque dances.

In the end though, it’s about the baking. And when it came to picking this week’s winner, we’ll never know if Sue and Dean flipped a coin, a la The Bachelor, but it was Hannah who took out the Star Baker crown.

There was no hedging of bets needed to decide who to kick out though.

In the end, Clayton’s pork was not pulled, his pastry not cooked enough and his seasoning not seasony enough. And that was the end of The Peppy Flamingo.

The kitchen will forever be a little quieter without him.

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.

Annabel, Jeffrey and Hannah tackle pies and tarts week. Source: TVNZ