The Great Australian Bake Off – Episode 2 – Biscuit Week!!

Week 2 and we head into biscuit week.

Matt starts off by saying, most people start baking a biscuit in my case, it’s true. Parmesan crisps that my mum used to love (why did I not make them? I thought it was too simple, looking back on what else was made, I should have)

I’ve had quite a few people who haven’t had my savoury Macarons ask me.. why? what were you thinking? That’s not a savoury cookie… Let me first say, I made them for my audition as my savoury bake and frankly it’s what got me through the auditions.

Secondly…. I made a huge mistake on the day and the balance was off. I misread the brief….. I had it stuck in my head that we had to make 18… I had only ordered enough ingredients for 18…the panic set in as Claire announces “36 identical…..   ” By reducing down the size I could make up the brief amount but having not tested them at that size, it didn’t taste quite right…. very sad face on this as we love them and they are a true challenge to the savoury concept. Was a risk and …. well… crashed and burned. Sorry Matt and Maggie!!

These were my submissions for savoury bake for auditions:

Macarons – Savoury for audition

Macarons – Savoury for audition

As you can see, different size, more bite etc…. oh well….

Technical bake – Maggie’s Florentine’s… very unusual with the addition of rosemary and not a technique I’ve ever used to make them. Interesting and learnt new things there.

And now for the showstopper…

My plan was to make the Duomo of Milan – I spent 3 weeks testing recipes and constructions to make it work – such a huge challenge and couldn’t make it work – Gothic cross shaped church – had to be self supporting… everything I tried failed and I am not a structural engineer….. so 3 days before the brief was due I was still at a loss for my showstopper. Everything looked terrible and hardly Bake Off worthy…

The beginning of my first building build… um….

The beginning of my first building build… um….

Cup of cafe and a cookie and I had to think outside the box. I thought for sure someone would do Parisian themed structures, I was considering the Colosseum but convinced someone would do it… I couldn’t pick my fav iconic structure as we love to travel and my father had traveled to Australia by car in the late 60’s (Yes there was a ship from India to Sydney)… and then it hits me… I will make them all…. but how….

I grab hubby and say to him, “I have an idea for the gingerbread, and please hear me out. You are either going to love it, or think I’m nuts” He takes a deep breath and quietly hears me pour out this concept, “I want to build a 4 tier structure, cookie tubes inside to support it, iconic buildings in cookie form, highly decorated with fondant and hand painted, harbor bridge on top, lights inside so in the dark you get the silhouettes, on an automatically turning turn table with music playing “It’s a small world”, what do you think?”

Silence….. he’s looking at me. No reaction.

Me, “Am I nuts?”

Hubby, “Yes, you’re officially nuts, but it’s f’n brilliant! Can you pull it off?”

Me, “Yep!” And in my head I’m thinking “Can I?”

I drew it up….

My scrappy notes that got it all started

My scrappy notes that got it all started

And off I went to create a concept version of what was in my head using just plain cookie cutters I had around the house.

Showing the lights that was missed

Showing the lights that was missed

1st concept – test baking

1st concept – test baking

In the meantime, chatting with my awesome cake making friends, my gorgeous girlfriend Estelle offers me her stable but soft ginger bread recipe. I am in amored with it! Not only delicious, is firm and holds weight but is soft and chewy and what you expect when eating ginger bread. I have a bit of a play with it by increasing the spices (As I LOVE things spicy) and then a new level, citrus notes and a bit of bite with chilli. It’s superb and I can’t thank Estelle enough as she truly got me over the line with this bake.

We managed to get the brief in on time so the next 2 weeks was spent sourcing and making custom cookie cutters. Hubby working on a turn table that turns by its self and plays music at the same time. Cookie cutters frrom JB Cutter and . Edible paints from Sweet Sticks

My first practice bake of the iconic buildings

My first practice bake of the iconic buildings

And what happened on the day?

Sadly, I wasn’t able to use the turn table that hubby spent so long working on as the music would need royalties etc paid… sniff sniff, so moments before we start baking, I am in tears and trying to hold it together for the cameras.

I then proceed to sniff through most of the cookie decorating as a lot of locations were places my father visited on his way to Australia so I was highly emotional all day. (I should make mention at this point I lost my father 14 months prior to this). The poor producers dealing with me that day!

It was a crazy bake to attempt and I had very little time to socialise and chat with the other bakers so I can only comment on what was close to me.

Antonio was directly in front of me. We chatted a lot and I LOVED his idea of using toffee to bind his biscuit Big Ben. I will try that with my christmas gingerbread houses this year. I had made a super strong royal icing mixture that I coloured brown to it didn’t distract from the structure and added cinnamon for taste for the bake off shed.

Leisel in front had this amazing concept with the tea, and pool with custard for dunking. Loved it.

Cheryl was struggling with the bake. A few elements not quite going to plan or her practice baking.

And poor James at the front. While it was structurally a disaster, it tasted amazing and made for one of the best bit of footage’s in the entire show so far! Smash that tower!!!

I remember Boyan’s Sphinx had a hidden compartment in it that no one got to see. And Fiona had baked sugar till golden brown (great concept too) for the sand in her bake.

Leisel crowned Star Baker (Brava!) and we sadly lost Cheryl that week.

I was grateful my show stopper saved me this time!

Self Supporting 3 flavoured gingerbread structure of iconic buildings with hand painted edible wafer paper and lights

Self Supporting 3 flavoured gingerbread structure of iconic buildings with hand painted edible wafer paper and lights

Final Look

Final Look

Another view

Another view

The other side

The other side

And what was left over? The carnage that was judging hahahaha I get asked a lot “What happens to the bakes once the judging is finished?” We get to try them, the crew gets tasting and we get to take home left overs too! No wastage here!

Left overs anyone?

Left overs anyone?

Monica CavallaroComment