The Great Australian Bake Off is starting this October on LifeStyle FOOD (Channel 127). We have the official website coming next week so stay tuned for much more info, recipes & bakespiration!
We caught up with culinary icon Maggie Beer and acclaimed chef Matt Moran to chat about their new roles of judges on The Great Australian Bake Off and all things baking!
What made you want to do Bake Off?
Maggie: Truth? (laughs). I love to learn and I know I learn every day. What better place to learn than from doing something that you love. It’s all about food, so it was this lovely harmony coming together.
Matt: Look you know I love cooking all aspects of food but baking was, and people don’t realise this, baking was my first job in the kitchen. And my first business was a cake and tart business I used to sell to delicatessens. So I’ve always had a genuine love for pastries and baking. It sounds a bit tacky but I love Maggie Beer and when they said that Maggie Beer was going to be on it, I jumped at the opportunity.
Tell us about your Maggie Beer Foundation..
Maggie: It’s about working to change food in aged care across Australia. There are some amazing exponents of food in aged care and I want to celebrate them as the benchmarks, and all the others that aren’t that I want to bring along with me, and share all the things that I believe in. Give them the tools as to how they can make a wonderful difference every day.
Do you remember your first dessert? What’s your first memory of baking?
Maggie: My first memory of a dessert was my mother’s golden syrup dumplings that were etched into my memory. I was about three years of age and I remember it so well because there was a blackout that night because it was just a few years just after the war and we lived at Rose Bay and I remember the smell and I remember everything about it. The first thing that I baked was when I was seven or eight, for my grandmother’s birthday I made orange cake.
Matt: I never actually really cooked until I became a teenager. My grandmother was a phenomenal cook and I know that’s very cliché but she was a country cook and every time I went around there I’d always eat a cake, a tart or a pudding or a slice. I remember as a young kid always trying to make date scones with her. There was no recipe, she did it by feel. She’s passed away now and I’ve always tried to recreate it and I can never create what she did.
What does baking mean to you?
Maggie: Baking’s about the aromas, sense of pride too when you pull something out of the oven and it’s perfect, and you share it with friends.
Matt: To me it’s about comfort, I find it really therapeutic and warming. It’s one of those things that you do at home, whether it’s a cold winter’s day or a beautiful sunny day. There’s nothing better than the end result. It’s a love.
What are your thoughts of this year’s contestants?
Maggie: I love them! I think they’re just beautiful. They’re a very mixed bunch, very diverse and I want all of them to do well.
Matt: Well Maggie didn’t want anyone to go home; she loved them all so much. Look they’re fantastic, there’s a real diverse mob. There’s the cool groovy, the old more experienced, but they can bake. That’s a real bonus.
Is it hard sending people home every week?
Maggie: Oh it's terrible.
If you were a dessert, what would you be?
Maggie: (laughs). I’d be a pomegranate mousse.
Matt: I’d have to be a chocolate mud cake (laughs). I’d have to be. I love chocolate. And I’m a bit muddy (laughs).
What is your top tip for amateur bakers?
Maggie: One tip? To have balance of flavour when they’re baking.
Matt: Keep within your comfort zone. Don’t try to do something that is going to test you too much. Keep it good and simple, and then work from there.
What’s it like working with each other?
Maggie: Oh it’s terrific. He’s really a teddy bear. And he looks out for me because I’m hopeless (laughs).
Matt: Oh horrible (laughs). Look, Maggie Beer to me….I just sincerely love her. She is just the matriarch of food in this country, as far as I’m concerned. She’s just a beautiful, beautiful soul, and we get on so well. And we’ve known each other for a long, long time. I’ve worked with her before, I’ve done TV with her before, but to hang out with her for six weeks, I’m really looking forward to.
Are you a precision baker or instinctual baker?
Maggie: Oh I’m only instinct, there’s nothing precision, there’s nothing technical about me.
Matt: I think you can be both. I think I’m a little bit of both. I like to be precise, but I also like to think outside the square too.
Do you see that in the contestants? Some are one or the other?
Maggie: Absolutely. I see those that are totally technical, I see those that are driven by flavour, and those that put that instinct and flavour together.
Matt: There’s a real mix. But it’s early days. In the first episode as people will see, the great thing about this show is that it can turn on a dime. You can be at the bottom and at the end of the day, at the top.
What themed week are you most looking forward to?
Maggie: I love pastry, love biscuits, love bread (laughs). Pastry and bread….
Matt: I was really looking forward to cake, because I love cake. Bread is also a real passion for me.
What do you think is one of the hardest things to bake?
Pastry... my tip would be when making it is not to overwork the dough, and it’s having great ingredients, lots of butter, full of flavour, that’s most important to me.