New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker I am not. But I admit to having developed a keen interest in this piece of Nu Zillund television drama.
It’s hard to give New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker a category. It’s part cooking show, part reality television, part Shortland Street saga with a touch of Doctor Phil.
The contestants relationships with each other, whether real, or imagined and marketed by the producers, are kept in a state of simmering tension. Their diary type entries reveal tight smiles and interesting comments, alluding to their true feelings about their baking rivals. But so far there have been no knock downs… slightly disappointing.
As you would expect, the contestants personalities could easily be stereotyped in to your usual reality television roles of girl bitch, boy bitch, sweet-natured, a little bit dizzy, and what on earth are you doing here?
And ‘what on earth are you doing here?’ is a question I’ve asked a lot over the last few episodes. Of both myself and the contestants.
I think the reason I’m still here, watching, is an odd attachment I feel to these poor people who appear to have bitten off much more than they can chew.
Now I’m an okay home-baker. I know my way round a whisk. But I doubt you will ever see me appearing in any type of reality cookery classes on the tele any time soon.
I’m far too pig-headed. I’d be arguing with the judges and the producers and I tend to say the “F” word a lot when under pressure in the kitchen, so they’d be using those beeps a lot. And anyway, Gordon Ramsay has the market pretty much tied up in that department.
I’m not even nearly the perfectionist you need to be for these programs, and I’m a believer in things looking and tasting home-made. So what if your pastry is a bit fat or you’ve over stuffed your cream bun. And no one in my home would complain about too much icing, in fact I could probably dish up a couple of tubs of butter cream icing and a selection of pretty spoons, and be crowned queen baking bee for all eternity!
But come on. If you sign up for a baking competition, that will no doubt involve ‘baking’ (SHOCK!) you should probably consider the fact that you are going to have Dean Brettschneider judging your tarts and your apple turnovers, your pies and your puddings. And I feel, and it could just be me, but if you’re going to put yourself out there on the national tele, then it would probably be a really good idea to go in with at least a bit of knowledge and practice up your sleeve.
Every week, every challenge, there are contestants admitting they have never iced a cake, or made pastry, or made bread…. It’s a BAKING show Chickens, what did you think they would be getting you to do?
And so each week we are confronted with an unmitigated barrage of baking blow outs. Disaster is only an ad break away. Last week was the height of true trauma, as the contestants caved under the pressure of the baked cheese cake.
Let’s be honest. Baked cheese cakes really aren’t that great. The ones you stick in the fridge are easier and taste a whole lot better. They’ve even made the filling for you, so all you really have to do is smash up the biscuits!
The baked cheesecake challenge was an endless run on under cooked, smashed up, soggy stuff that culminated in one contestants cheese mush sliding off the plate and down the side of the fridge door.
Now fair play to her, and the producers, because they didn’t show her sitting on the floor sobbing behind the fridge door, which is exactly where I would have been.
I couldn’t help wondering what the point of the whole exercise was? All it proved is that if you want to bake a cheese cake, you’re going to need a fair bit of practice. Which no one seemed to have done.
But maybe that’s the point? Are they trying to convince us that the majority of home baking involves trying to rescue unmitigated disasters?
So I sat down with my cup of tea and had a think about what my home baking show would look like…
And in the interests of truth and honesty I give you my plan for my own reality baking show…
New Zealand’s Happiest Looking Home-Baker
First Challenge. You have $15 in your bank account, a weeks worth of washing in piles all over your lounge floor and one of your small children has just squeezed a tube of toothpaste in to the toilet.
It’s your turn to host Coffee Group.
You have 45 minutes to tidy up, get to the supermarket and back home and produce enough food for 6 other Mum’s and Dad’s, and their little darlings. You must make it look home made.
You must also look tidy and presentable, with an air of calm when the first guest walks through the door.
Do not forget to wipe the bench.
(The winner of this challenge will be the one who shows expert skills with dusting of icing sugar.)
6.43am on a school morning.
“Remember it’s the shared lunch today.”
You must fill the lunch boxes, make the breakfast and dress the children, at the same time as producing a plate of food that looks home made. You can only use what’s left in the vege bin, as well as two of the following “surprise” ingredients;
1 left over easter egg
8 mini marshmallows
Extra points will be given if there is something “healthy” involved.
Marks will be deducted if you do not manage your time wisely and end up dropping off the children at school in your stay at home track pants.
Birthday Party time! You are assigned a small child who has been pouring over the Women’s Weekly Child’s Birthday Party book for at least the last 4 months and would like you to create a pirate ship / swimming pool / fairy castle / alien.
You will of course be at work until 5.30pm, so you can not start the cake until 7.30pm on friday night, after you’ve had your choice of two wines, or two ciders, or one large glass of gin and tonic.
The winner could very well be the person who uses their brain and pops down to Countdown at 7am the next morning for a ready made banana cake.
The pastry time challenge. Croissants.
Surprise! Your family are on set for brunch!
You have 30 minutes to find the croissants in the deep freezer, and stuff them with the cheese and ham provided.
You must remember to tell them where the jug is so they can make themselves a cup of tea.
The chocolate creativity challenge.
Four ingredients or less.
You must use rice bubbles, cornflakes or weetbix.
You must melt the chocolate.
You can only use one bowl.
Winner will be the person who doesn’t eat all the stuff before the presentation.