Heck yes. I am here for this theme. The preview shows both waffles and crepes, and breakfast foods are always welcome on this show. It's also really good for puns. Chris mentions potato scallops, so this is probably a good time to reignite the potato scallops vs. potato cakes debate (I'm joking, it's okay to have regional names for things, and the debate is stupid).
More importantly, a return to #wildlifewatch: Are these baby bin chickens?
(ED: In the foreground yes they are bin chickens, and the bird in the rear is a Spoonbill.)
Side Note: I spent 10 days in Perth and had the opportunity to meet Robert and his lovely wife Tash so there will be at least one story about that in this recap. It's two degrees of separation from Maggie Beer!
Signature Bake: Waffles
Last week the bakers made sausage rolls, which is objectively the best Signature ever done on the shows. Waffles is easily second on that list. I'd say a close second, but it's just a regular distance. Matt has fond memory of his grandmother making waffles, and would like to see an 'array of waffles'. Maggie wants something extraordinary served with the waffles.
Marcus made Totally Tropical waffles with pineapple and macadamias, served with coconut ice cream and fresh pineapple. Maggie and Matt suggest that fresh pineapple might be too acidic, and suggest that he brings out the flavour by cooking it. Marcus followed their advice, and the judges loved it, except Matt would have liked a syrup.
Raeesa made buttermilk waffles with caremelised walnut ice cream and saffron infused pears. The judges loved the flavour combination of the walnuts and pears, and the saffron wasn't too overpowering.
When I saw Robert slicing cabbage for his waffles I thought 'that's weird.' Then remembered that we discussed Japanese food last week and knew he'd be making okonomiyaki waffles (I had okonomiyaki for dinner that night, it was delicious). So they're savoury waffles filled with bacon and cabbage and topped with benito flakes, okonomiyaki (or Economy class) sauce, and Japanese mayonnaise. The judges said that there was a beautiful balance of flavours and that Robert is back at the top.
Barb's Corny Waffles had corn in the batter, which she served with avocado salsa, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. The judges were concerned that the corn would make the waffle too starchy, but they loved the flavour. The egg was cooked perfectly, and Matt said it was the perfect Sunday brunch.
Chris was the hero who served fried chicken with his bacon and cheddar waffles. He provided a choice of sauces: a white pepper gravy and tobasco maple syrup. Maggie said that the waffles were great on their own, and Matt says if he served this to his friends, they'd love it.
Claudia made chestnut flour and hazelnut waffles, which she served with mixed mushrooms, maple speck, a quail egg and herb cream. Maggie asked if Claudia was using hazelnut flour as well as chestnut, and she replied that there was hazelnut oil in the batter. Matt described the waffles as 'exactly what a waffle should be,' and Maggie loved the flavours of the chestnut and hazelnut.
Dave made his own version of waffles inspired by mochi, which are Japanese rice cakes. There were three flavours of waffle: plain rice, matcha and cherry, which he served with cherry and sake ice cream. Dave was inspired by the Japanese influence on his home town. The judges are surprised at the chewy texture, but it works, and Magie loves the ice cream. They call it a 'wonderful surprise,' and this is the best challenge of the season so far in regards to feedback.
Technical Challenge: Apple Clafoutis
It's another Matt Moran recipe this week, and he's sticking with the French theme. He's asked the bakers to make an apple clafoutis (he likes to be obscure), and one of his hints is that he likes symmetrical balls. Buckle up, that's only the start of the innuendo, and you will be drunk by the end of this challenge if you're playing the drinking game. ANYWAY. Clafoutis is a baked custard dessert with balls of apple in it (I guess the custard is the batter?). It's a deceptively simple challenge because the bakers don't know how long they're supposed to leave it in the oven. Matt wants an even bake and caremelisation on top, and I started yelling at the bakers when they took their clafoutis out of the oven too early. During the judging Maggie said that the apples in one clafoutis popped up as if they were happy to see you, and she didn't know why that set everyone off. This is your weekly reminder that Maggie Beer is a national treasure.
From last to first we have Dave, Claudia, Raeesa, Robert, Marcus, Chris and Barb.
Claudia and Dave are identified as the contestants who are in trouble, while Barb and Chris are named as possibilities for Star Baker.
Showstopper: Crêpe Cake
CRÊPE CAKE!!! Okay that's the last time I'm going to use the accent, it'll be Anglicised from now on. The crepe cake must have at least 60 layers, there must be filling between each layer, and they must be decorated. This is one long, 4.5 hour challenge. Maggie says that it's important that the batter is light, and not overworked. Each layer has to be identical in thickness. Matt says they need to think about the structural integrity of their crepe cakes, and I love it when people use construction terms to talk about baking.
Raeesa made a three-tiered lemon, lime and orange crepe cake (I know, I was hoping for lemon, lime and bitters too). The crepes are filled with lemon curd, raspberry coulis and fresh cream, and topped with meringue. The judges love the presentation of the cake and the citrus smell, but the lemon is too acidic and the meringue is too sweet. Luckily the batter in the crepe is soft and beautifully cooked.
Claudia makes pancakes for her children when her husband is away, and is making a two-tiered black forest crepe cake. The lemon and chocolate crepes are filled with alternating layers of vanilla marscapone cream, blackcurrant and blackberry marscapone cream, and chocolate and cassis ganache. Matt and Maggie try the batter, and Matt chides Maggie for not having a spoon. National Treasure Maggie Beer points out the sexism in clothes design when it comes to pockets. The judges love Claudia's showstopper, saying she has the best crepes. Maggie loves the layering, colours, flavour and texture, and says that every little bit works. Matt says that this crepe cake is winning material.
Chris made a two-tiered red velvet crepe cake filled with cream cheese frosting and topped with a red chocolate ganache drip, cream and fresh flowers. The judges were surprised to see that it wasn't as big as they'd expected. The flavours were good, but the crepes were a bit chewy.
Barb made an ombre crepe cake with blueberry and lemon cream cheese filling and some blueberry syrup to pour over the top (she's the only one who made syrup). Matt tells us that there are 23 varieties of blueberry in Australia, and the flavour discrepancy between blueberries is due to the different varieties. Nearly every other fruit is separated by variety, why not blueberries? When the contestants are rushing to assemble their cakes, Barb mentions it's a good thing she's ambidextrous. Maggie says the cake is pretty and mauve, and the judges love the lemon and the blueberry in the cream cheese. The syrup makes it 'alive,' and Barb says you can't have crepes without syrup.
Marcus' crepe cake is filled with alternating layers of chocolate ganache, orange jam, praline and star anise chantilly cream. It's topped with tempered chocolate, chocolate ganache and orange slices. The judges warn Marcus to be careful with the star anise because it can overpower the other flavours. The crepes are good, but the cake is too dense and there's too much star anise.
Robert is making a chocolate crepe cake covered with frangelico cream. Alternating layers are filled with white chocolate mousse, praline and dark chocolate mousse, and it's decorated with white chocolate flowers. The judges come up and ask if there are any other flavours in the cake because they're worried it will be too plain. I understand that this is a baking competition, but as my notes say, SOMETIMES YOU JUST WANT CHOCOLATE IT DOESN"T NEED TO HAVE RASPBERRY ALL THE TIME. When Robert starts to assemble his cake he realises that he doesn't have enough layers, so he needs to make more, and he runs out of time for decoration. The judges comment that it looks plain and not like a showstopper, and Matt questions whether there are really 60 crepes. The texture and flavour are good, but the presentation is lacking.
Dave made a three-tiered ombre crepe cake decorated with fresh flowers. His crepes were filled with alternating layers of watermelon slices, raspberry puree and osmanthus cream - Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair! The judges love the pastel colours and the texture that the watermelon brings to the cake. The raspberry filling is their favourite, and they say that it eats like a sponge.
Let's have a bit of a chat about the Star Baker deliberations. Before we go anywhere else, Claudia absolutely deserves Star Baker, but there's some inconsistency in the judging. I sometimes get the impression that the judges are putting too much emphasis on the showstopper, which is also known as recency bias. Admittedly this was a tough week: all of the contestants got positive feedback on their waffles, so it came down to the technical and the showstopper. The two people who scored lowest on the technical did the best showstoppers, so suddenly they went from being in danger to considered for Star Baker. Meanwhile, Barb did a great job in all the challenges (she won the technical) and got a passing mention at best.
#JusticeForBarb (but really I am very happy for Claudia, and I have her picked as the winner of the competition.)
Claudia wins Star Baker, and Marcus is going home, which means a definite reduction in the amount of dancing going forward. The episode finishes with the contestants doing the Nutbush, which is one of my favourite group dances.