Anna Gare is the host of Channel Nine’s new cooking show, The Great Australian Bake Off (episode two airs tonight at 8pm). Each week, 10 contestants will be faced with challenges in Signature Bake, Technical Bake and Showstopper Bake categories, and the last person standing is set to be crowned Australia’s Best Home Baker. Anna’s also a brilliant cook and mum of two, so we asked the famous foodie all about television’s latest culinary competition, and quizzed her on last-minute birthday baking fixes for kids.
Q: How are you enjoying hosting The Great Australian Bake Off with Shane Jacobson? What can audiences expect from the show?
I feel like I had the best gig in town, working alongside the wonderful Shane Jacobson was a golden ticket in itself. Expect to be entertained, inspired to bake and learn heaps of baking tricks from our baking royalty: Dan Lepard and Kerry Vincent.
Q: What’s been the biggest surprise on the show so far?
I loved how the contestants were so passionate about baking and how their personalities were really well represented in their bakes. Also how competition can make people push themselves just that little bit further, achieve excellence and even surprise themselves.
Q: As a professional chef, has there been extra pressure to come up with dazzling birthday cakes for the kids every year? Have you ever cheated?
I’ve always made dazzling birthday cakes for my kids and yes, of course, I have cheated. If I’m running out of minutes in the day I turn shop-made stuff into something specky. One of my kids’ favourites was when I bought a tub of Maggie Beer’s burnt fig jam ice-cream, a dreaded shopping-centre chocolate sponge and put the two together, then covered it in Italian meringue, whacked it in the oven for a minute on high…and voila! It’s a spectacular bomb Alaska.
No time to bake, or don’t have an oven? For a real quickie, buy three pre-made chocolate mud cakes and transform them into something big and special. I crumble them into a bowl, and then jazz them up with some spiced orange syrup and toasted coconut. I then push the mixture firmly into a plastic-lined dome-shaped bowl, turn it out again and then gloss it over with a delicious chocolate ganache. Sprinkled with hundreds and thousands or a bit of love, and you have tricked them all!
Q: What three words best describe Australia’s Best Home Baker?
Clever, fun, quirky.
We’re giving away a super-cute set of Anna Gare baking accessories, as part of our fantastic “Mastering The Basics” competition. Check it out and enter to win here.