The saccharine delights of Chelsea New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker returned last night. What did you think of the latest batch of hot home bakers fresh out of the oven?

Ahh it’s good to have the flowing locks of Colin Mathura-Jeffree back on TV, although for reasons of hygiene or glamour, he had his leonine mane pulled back in an elegant chignon in last night’s debut episode of the third season of Chelsea New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker.  

Joining Colin for season three are new judge and co-founder of Dollop puddings, Julia Crownshaw and returning judge, professional baker Dean Brettschneider.

The first challenge was to create a unique signature dish, “nothing like anyone else would bake”.  Twelve Hottest Home Baker hopefuls would be eliminated, leaving eight finalists in the running for the title and an amateur baker's trip of a lifetime to Singapore to train with Dean Brettschneider, plus kitchenwares galore.  

The bakers could use any ingredients in the well-stocked Chelsea kitchen pantry as well as ingredients and tools brought from home.  Ben lugged in his ice cream maker, but the special secret ingredients smuggled in from private pantries remained unseen.  Who knows what magical supplies these ruthless competitors keep under lock and key?

Nearly 1000 applicants from all over New Zealand auditioned for the show, but only 20 polka dot pinnied hopefuls (including three vertical stripe-aproned gents) made it through to the first round, and what a bunch of characters they were! 

There was Morgan and Jazmine, twins from Hamilton and self-proclaimed members of  ‘Team Awesome’.  Jazmine produced a mystery cake; a cake covered in chocolate concealing a secret centre, but her pale, dun-coloured chocolate coating made it a mystery you’d rather preserve in an ancient Egyptian crypt for all time. 

Morgan made a remarkable looking Baked Alaska, but sadly, Alaska shifted sideways as she was retrieving it from the oven.  Curse you global warming!  Sadly, neither of the Topp Twins of cupcakes made it through to the next round. 

Dean stressed a few of the contestants out when he said, “we don’t want any boring old brownie, we want something really special.” Blatant discrimination against brownies!  We can see the headlines now, “Brettschneider prejudiced against cocoa based lunchbox staple.”

Dean’s brownie ban got Bex, one brownie baker amongst many, working up a sweat, and feeling disadvantaged from the outset. Bex hoped the novelty factor of her moustache cookie cutters would save her gingerbread but sadly, sweet snacks in the shape of facial hair aren’t generally a winner, (unless perhaps they contain a "magical" ingredient from home.)

Dean later tempered his anti-brownie comments by saying “I’m not saying if you bake a brownie you’re out, I’m just saying it better be a damn good brownie”, however we don’t recall actually seeing any brownies make it through to the finals.

Rachel and Hamish were both keen to dispel the myths about vegan and gluten free cooking as unappetizing with their dishes, although Rachel was probably less successful with her vegan brownie crowned with a  disturbing poo-like dollop of crunchy peanut butter on top. Julia stated the obvious and said “They actually look like little turds.”

Hamish said he would do anything to win, even “cover my naked body in cupcakes if it means getting that title.”  Hamish won’t need to transform his body into the cake equivalent of body sushi if he keeps baking like he did in the preliminaries.  His innovative cloud cake filled with lashings of cream scored him a place in the finals and would satisfy any chocolate lover, even a chocoholic with a love for gluten.  Dean, however, was not pleased with Hamish’s choice of blue icing and handed over tasting duties to Julia, saying it was not his cup of tea.  

Haylely scored a place in the finals too with her ginger cupcakes with caramel cream cheese icing.  She said she chose the flavours because she “eats a lot of foreign food, which has a lot of ginger in it”.  Bit of a blanket statement there but we'll let Hayley off because her cupcakes did look delicious and earned her a place in the finals.

Esme made a glamorous birthday cake for herself that looked like it was bought in a shop while police officer Ian made a gorgeous lemon meringue pie, but sadly Dean told him, “I’ve had better”.

Emily produced perfectly pink chocolate gateau cupcakes and macaroons while her kitchen mate Alice had some issues with the heat in the kitchen with her Cherry Ripe mud cake, but showed deft skill with the way she managed to transform it from looking like the contents of an exploded diaper into something truly delicious.  

Our finalists Hamish, Hayley, Emily, Ben, Mel, Rose, Alice and Esme will be toiling in the kitchen over the next eight syrupy, sugar-filled weeks.  

Whose dreamy dessert did you find most appetising?

Chelsea New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker
Thursdays, 7.30pm

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