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New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker – Season 3, Episode 1

April 26, 2012


NZHHB IS BACK! it makes me want to:

You can read all about the finalists here or catch up on the episode if you missed it here!

Tonight’s episode saw twenty chosen hopefuls battle it out for a spot in the top 8. Those on the couch with me tonight commented on the increase in males this season and with regards to one in particular… I should just get it out there now that I must have said “OH THOSE EYES” about 100 times – dreamy eyes. Right?

Ok, I’ll stop being a gushy 12 year old. On to my thoughts!

There was a lot more diversity this year and my impression was that it was on average a younger crowd too. Great to see the Vegans and Gluten free eaters being represented and even though she didn’t get through – Bex I would love your gluten free brownie recipe. Gluten free can be SO hard to get right.

I noticed there were a few of the top 20 that we didn’t get introduced to at all! That must be a bit of a downer for them but I can imagine it is not easy to cut several hours of footage down to just the best bits.

I think the contestants that got us talking the most (apart from MR EYES) were the twins – Jazmine & Morgan. How kiwi were they! Entertainment value for sure. Loved that they were on the show.

I really felt for Rose. I would have given up for sure but she just persevered. Absolutely the right choice to edit her presentation down to just one slice. Some times the messes are still delish.

Great to have Dean back again. He seems to be the right mix of fun and professional. There was a moment I thought he was being a bit smarmy though?

We Googled Julia during an ad break as her company only rang a faint bell… and then I realised I had used her Bottled Chocolate Ganache before. Amazing stuff. You can check out her company here.

I’ll miss Jade Lipton though as she gave a great working with fondant tutorial last year and I was hoping to see more of her work.

Quick mention about Colin here, not much of him in this episode but love your work! I can’t actually picture anyone else hosting this show now. I think they should make him BAKE!

I was stoked to see them in what appeared to be an a training school or cooking institute. We commented on how plain the walls were and wondered if they would improve the set as the season went on and then we saw the preview for next week! Looks like they are back in the same warehouse set up as last year. Time will tell.

Quote of the night goes to Dean “I’ve had better” OUCH!

Quote from my couch goes to “Is that what vegan poo’s look like?” – all in good spirit of course…

The AMAZEBALLS award definitely goes to Esme for that flawless cake. Understated beauty!

Really looking forward to next weeks episode, as an early pic we’ve pegged Esme & Hamish as front runners but it really might be too soon to tell.

What did you think of the episode tonight? Would you have crumbled under the pressure? Do you blind bake your pastry? What would you have made?

Let me know! I’m off to figure out if I can make a Cherry Ripe Cake!

(P.S Don’t forget to go support the show on facebook)


bacon & chilli jam

April 1, 2012

When I first entered the Jam Off I was totally convinced that I was going to enter my Chilli Jam. When I say ‘my Chilli Jam’ I  actually mean Nigella’s. 100% not actually my invention. 100% based on her recipe. All credit to the sultry hot temptress that is Nigella Lawson:

This recipe is a tried and true, sweet n spicy option that I had made a hundred times before. Safe. Easy. Delicious.

Then somebody tweeted about these shoes:


And I started to wonder – What Would Ron Swanson Do?

He’d make Bacon Jam. BACON JAM. But how?…

Google helped. The internet was already full of Bacon Jam recipes. It seems the idea was not my own! God Bless the internet.

After the first attempt (a miserable failure, that is a lot of wasted bacon people!) I tried  a few more times (cough THREE cough) and then finally mixed the successful batch of Bacon Jam with Nigella’s Chilli Jam recipe. Ta Dah!

It ended up being included as a wild card in the top five finalists in the Wellington Jam Off 2012! I was so stoked! It was such a fun morning, a HUGE thank you to the team that puts the Jam Off together!

SO after many requests – here are the recipes. Make each jam on their own and then mix the Chilli Jam recipe through the Bacon Jam recipe – proportions to taste. The Bacon Jam is amazing on its own though.  You could just make the Bacon Jam. And get nice & friendly with a tea-spoon!

Niether is a cheap jam to make and as far as we’ve been able to tell the Bacon Jam only had about a 2 week ‘in the fridge’ shelf life. We ate it too fast to figure out if you could keep it sealed in the pantry for a while before opening.

Chilli Jam (

  • 150g red chillies – I sourced these from New World in 80g bags
  • 150g peppers – Nigella’s recipe calls for Red Peppers but I use the bulk mini pepper packs – green, red & yellow
  • 1kg jam sugar – shout out to Chelsea Sugar for their Jam Setting sugar!
  • 600ml cider vinegar

1 ) Deseed and cut each chilli into about 4 pieces.

2 ) Pulse in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Repeat steps 1 & 2 with the peppers.

3) Over a low heat dissolve the sugar in vinegar.

4) Add the chilli & pepper mix to the pot and bring to boil. Leave boiling for ten minutes. Only stir if you need too.

5) After ten minutes, remove from heat and leave to cool.

6) Once cool and once the chilli flecks are suspended in the Jell you can ladle into jars.

Bacon Jam

I’m not sure how to credit this Jam recipe – I changed amounts and blended a few I stumbled across so I’ll link all the recipes I read initially and thank them all for their inspiration and instruction!

Whiskey Bacon Jam Recipe


  • 500g bacon – Cured streaky bacon if you wallet can spare the coin!
  • 70g brown sugar
  • 50mls golden syrup
  • 50ml cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 150ml fresh brewed coffee (for the record I slipped in Supreme single origin!)
  • 250ml whiskey – Makers Mark was on hand at the time
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely diced


1) Dice & fry bacon until it just starts to crisp. You want it cooked but not crispified.

2)Leave enough fat in the pan to fry the onion partially but drain off the rest of the fat. You really don’t want to leave too much dripping fatty goodness on the bacon. You’ll end up with greasy jam.

3) Once you’ve fried the onion gently (low, 5 mins-ish) add the garlic for another minute.

4) In a heavy (cast iron if you’ve got it) bottomed pot or dish mix together the bacon you’ve drained and the onion and garlic. Add all the remaining ingredients except for the vinegar.

5) Leave to simmer for an hour. You can add a little water every 30 minutes if you need to ( I did this just once) and then add the vinegar in the last 5-10 mins. One recipe suggested putting this in a slow cooker for 4 – 6 hours instead.

6) At the end of the hour you’ll have a heavenly smelling home and a sweet smoky pot of goodness. Let it cool slightly and the pulse in a food processor. It’s up to you how finely you process it. Take it too far and you end up with Bacon Paste. Still delish though!

7) Bottle up and find a million uses.


Thanks again to the Wellington Jam Off 2012



hokey pokey brownie

February 28, 2012

Whittaker’s released a new range of mini slabs last week and to my utter delight one is Hokey Pokey!

Inspired, I present you this little beauty – Hokey Pokey Brownie


125g butter

250g sugar

2.5 eggs


40g flour

62g cocoa (this time I used Valrhona coco for some extra luxury!)

1 tsp baking powder

  1. Melt butter and mix together with sugar
  2. Add eggs and vanilla (to taste), mix well
  3. Add flour, cocoa and baking powder
  4. Pour into a 9X9 inch square tin and spread evenly
  5. Bake on 180 till set – about 20 minutes
  6. Once cool, refrigerate. Do not start the Hokey Pokey until your brownie is cool and refrigerated!

Hokey Pokey:

5 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp golden syrup

1 tsp baking soda
  1. Heat the sugar and golden syrup in a small pot.
  2. Stir constantly until all of the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Increase the heat and boil for two minutes. Watch closely and only stir if it looks like it is going to stick. After two minutes take off the stove and add the baking soda.
  4. Stir quickly and pour straight on to the top of the refrigerated brownie

(if you have a minute you should watch Nigella make Hokey Pokey here)

Melt half a packet of Whittaker’s hokey pokey mini slabs in a glass bowl in the microwave.

Spoon on top of refrigerated hokey pokey topped brownie and spread thinly.

Refrigerate until set.

To eat – I’ve devised this handy song to help you:

you put your left hand in

you take your left hand out

you put your left hand in and SHOVE IT IN YOUR MOUTH

xxBaker Melz

Say it with bacon

February 22, 2012

Just like last year…. the Mr & I are not big on Valentines Day.

But I just couldn’t help myself!

And everyone knows the way to a mans heart is through his stomach.

Take a pictorial journey of my gift to my love: BACON ROSES!

(Step 6: Pop into hot oven and bake till delicious. Get so overwhelmed by the smell of bacon wafting through your abode that you forget to take a photo of this step. And kind of mess up the whole point of a step by step blog…)

Finally, jam those little rosettes of bacon on to the tooth picks and TA DAH!

Love, Love, Love you ALL.


‘merican munchies

January 17, 2012


America does everything bigger. And better. And sweeter.

We gave the world gumboots, they gave the world Oprah.

We gave the world fence wire, they gave the world Oprah.

We gave the world  the Nek Minnit guy, they gave the world Oprah.

Anyway, keeping to true American form – here is some popcorn.. bigger & better!

Caramel Popcorn

    • 1 cup butter
    • 2 cups brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup corn syrup (OK, I can hear the haters already – Golden Syrup can be substituted but you can buy corn sryup in NZ Supermarkets now though…)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • Popped popcorn (salted if you are a lover of such things)
 Note: I’m not sure how much popped popcorn you need. It depends on how thick or thin you want your coating. I did three lots of 1 scoops batches of corn in to my popcorn  air popping benchtop popper thing. I’m sorry, I will NEVER write a cookbook. Promise.


  1. Preheat oven to 150 Degrees
  2. Make sure you have your pre popped popcorn in the biggest dish you own. I tend to split it between roasting dishes.
  3. In a pot on a low – mid heat melt the butter.
  4. Add: brown sugar & corn syrup/golden syrup.
  5. Bring to a boil. DON’T stop believing stirring constantly. Seriously, don’t stop for 3-4 mins or until it is a nice dark brown colour.
  6. Whip it off the stove and quickly add baking soda and salt. Watch out, it’s like making hokey pokey in high school science all over again. It starts to expand.
  7.  Working quickly, pour over popcorn and stir to coat. You might like to enlist a helper to stir while you pour.
  8. Eat a few bits, it is your bakers right.
  9. Bake! Stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool completely before breaking into pieces.


It is really important to bake the popcorn for the full amount of time. Unless, like me, you get interrupted halfway through baking by the biggest earth quake you’ve ever felt. In that case, turn off the oven, run out of the house and be a bit upset.

Then return to the kitchen, ignore the recommended cooking time and eat straight away. Feed it to your shaken flatmates also.

Then realise that you should have baked it the full time the next morning when all the left over popcorn is soggy. Sigh.

If you want to be truly American, one up this recipe by adding M&M’s. Everyone will love you.

lemon zingers

January 14, 2012

I happen to know of a top-secret lemon tree that produces lemons all year round.

I’m told that one of the secrets to survival is that its owners fertilise it naturally *wink wink*

As New Zealand heads into summer (the locals should take note that I don’t think summer has actually arrived yet, what is with all this rain!) I begin to dream of baking summer fruits in pies, summer berries in tarts and suddenly have a hankering for refreshing, zingy lemony based creations.

While things I make with lemons usually contain soda water and vodka… here is a great mini lemon loaf recipe.

Adapted from the lovely recipe available at – Lemon Syrup Loaf:

Mini Lemon Loaves

(Makes 6)

2 eggs
100g butter, melted
4 Tbsp grated lemon rind.
1 cup caster sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 sour cream
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup caster sugar

Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line 3 mini loaf tins (Mine were a gift this Christmas, best place in Wellington to score them is from Moore Wilson’s) with baking paper or sprink.

In your mixer beat eggs and butter until fluffy.

Then add lemon rind (making sure you have chopped it as finely as possible) and caster sugar until creamed.

Add in your dry ingredients and mix to  just combined, and milk and mix again.

Spread evenly across your 6 tins, flatten out tops with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, testing every few minutes with a skewer once the edges start browning.

In a pot, mix together the lemon juice and castor sugar with a wooden spoon.

Keep stirring on a medium heat until you have thick syrup.

Dowse the them straight out of the oven with the syrup and leave to cool.

For some people, the simple syrup is enough to dress up these delights, however if you are serving these cold or a few days later a simple lemon juice + icing sugar white icing drizzled over the top adds that final layer of lemon goodness… and perhaps an extra trip to the dentist!

Christmas Meringues

December 19, 2011

Ok, so in an attempt to redeem myself after the ‘swirl cookie fail’,

I attempted another festive swirly recipe – with much more success!

‘Christmas Meringues’

3 eggs

175g castor sugar

1 teaspoon cornflour

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

Few drops vanilla essence

(In my hunt over the years for meringue and Pavlova recipes that KICK ASS, I’ve come across many many variations. Some without cornflour, some with. Some without vinegar, some with. Some with egg powder, some with cream of tartar, some with lemon juice… this recipe works for me! But I know that there are very many many ways to make great meringues.)

Pre heat your oven to 130ºC

Prepare a piping bag with a coupler and nozzle.

Whisk egg whites using an electric mixer on a low-speed and as they begin to froth increase the speed, eventually hitting maximum. Your eggs whites will get thicker and thicker, and creamy looking. Keep on Whisking until they form ‘stiff peaks’. To help you tell if its ready, you can scoop some up with a spoon, hold it upside down and see if the mixture stays put.

When you’ve got stiff peaks, add the sugar a little bit at a time, and whisk until it returns to stiff peaks.

Fold in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla essence.

Take a paintbrush and paint lines of red gel food colouring down the insides of your piping bag. Two lines were enough, but I applied several layers of food colouring.

Fill piping bag with meringue mixture and pipe in large swirls on your baking paper lined tray.

(Meringues are notorious for sticking to ANYTHING, so I sprayed my baking paper with SPRINK for that extra help!)

Cook your meringues at 130ºC for an hour to an hour and a half. Cooking time will vary. Depending on the size of your meringues and the size of your bags nozzle – keep a close eye on them after the first hour.

You’ll want to cook them until the meringue is firm and crisp on the outside.

I like em a little chewy on the inside! And, a few were sacrificed during cooking to check on the chew.

Once cool serve with fresh fruit and cream! Or…

Stick them together with melted chocolate and crushed candy canes for something extra special.

I spied this idea on – HAVE YOU BEEN THERE? You should. It is stealing hours and hours and hours of my life. HOURS.

Merry Christmas!

Love to all!

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