RECAPITULARNESS: Filling a celebrity bake-off contest has to be a tricky business. Much like a baking recipe itself, you need the right mix of ingredients – from those who can’t tell their whisk from a spatula to those who can actually create something really great.
TVNZ Great Kiwi Bake Off Christmas Offer Tonight managed to get that balance mostly right with their newest celebrity bakers – Simon Bridges, Rebekah Randall, Francis Tipene, Justine Smith, Laura Daniel, and Josh Thomson – though sometimes the gap gaps between those who have a bag full Frosting and those who can’t, was almost too wide.
That huge difference in skills was most evident in the technical opening challenge, where Judge Sue Fleischl hired the bakers to bake a dozen festive cupcake snowmen full of ginger and spices and all the best.
While Rebekah Randall’s perfectly frozen and decorated cupcakes made hosts Hayley Sproull and Madeleine Sami suspicious that she had a bakery somewhere, Simon Bridges’ hideous snowmen were generously described by the man himself as White Walkers.
Josh Thomson, meanwhile, showed great originality by giving all of his snowmen a variety of looks, including a ginger mullet, a caramel hat, and fully functional sunglasses. They were so great that even the judges couldn’t help but play with the cupcakes before trying them.
Still, the first task was a breeze for Randall, as the jury found her cupcakes worthy of display and awarded her a $ 10,000 prize for her selected charity, StarJam.
Next up was the Narcissistic Showstopper Challenge, where our celebs created a Christmas selfie cake.
After gaining international fame last year for making Jacinda Ardern’s face out of lollipop cakes, Laura Daniel decided to stick with what she knew and made her own face out of lollipop cakes in the Bake Off barn.
Your skills have improved significantly since that nightmare Ardern cake from 2020 but sorry lolly cake still doesn’t bake and this is the delicious hill I’ll die on.
Meanwhile, Justine Smith formed a cake from baked goods she had dropped on the floor, Simon Bridges wrapped his abstract selfie in candy, and Francis Tipene baked a classic Christmas fruit cake with his face on it. Of course, a lot of attention was paid to his hair and the fading was done just right.
Again, it looked like Rebekah Randall would take up the challenge and use her appearance on a Christmas show as the 16-year-old “Sugar Claus” as inspiration for a very large cake. But just as I was beginning to believe she had no business in an amateur baking contest, a roast chicken came along and changed everything.
A photo of Josh Thomson at Christmas dinner was the inspiration for his selfie cake, and it was surprisingly emotional. Thomson’s voice trembled as he explained that the photo was from last Christmas with his mother and that he was making a “really stupid” red velvet cake in the shape of a fried chicken in honor of his late mother.
And the fried chicken was sensational. Put it right in the Heston Blumenthal Tricky Food Hall of Fame.
As the jury pointed out, Thomson’s other calling could be making “freak holiday cakes” – and he was rightly crowned the show’s star baker, with a whopping $ 20,000 prize to his charity, Variety.
Thomson, of course, celebrated in the kiwi-possible way possible, which resulted in him accepting his award awkwardly and doing his best to fend off all the congratulations.
But those weren’t the only prizes in the Bake Off Barn. It rained money on the star charities all night long as the hosts and judges handed out the most arbitrary titles.
With that in mind, here are a few more Tolles Kiwi Bake Off Awards that I give out.
Most Mercy under attack: Justine Smith.
Somebody has to drop a pastry on the floor while doing this Baking and Justine graciously filled that role without anyone noticing that she had done it. (Except for the camera team, of course.)
Most intense cake tasting: Sue Fleischl and Dean Brettschneider.
I thought this was a family show, but Fleischl casually split one of their funny snowmen in two, and the absolute joy Brettschneider brought from chopping Laura Daniel’s lolly-cake likeness with a large knife would suggest otherwise.
Most improved: Simon Bridges.
The national MP managed to rehabilitate himself after his nightmarish Snowman cupcakes. Sure, his Showstopper cake looked like it was decorated by a kid, but the judges thought it was delicious and it probably won’t haunt my dreams tonight so let’s consider that a win.