Pinch me... what am I doing here?
This is a woman who thought had won lotto each time she got through another stage of the audition process... the same woman who cried her eyes out when the producers rang to offer a spot in the shed and vowed to make them proud of their decision. I was so afraid of disappointing everyone around me but I was happy to have just made it into the shed. Do these things really happen?
What a remarkable adventure, what memories, what friendships forged, what lessons learnt and Finale!! Didn't matter for me personally what Finale week brought as I won each week just being there if that makes sense. I was going to give it my all as I did each and every week. Make my family proud of me and proud of myself.
My mum told be in the beginning, second place, the win isn't yours but you will be a champion. This played in my head every week and was such a satisfying thing to know (even though I didn't believe it until the final week!)
I picked Olivia and Antonio in week 2 to be there at the end. The 3rd spot was a wild card from my perspective at that stage. I was thinking it would have been Noel or Jeremy perhaps Fiona? Liesel was an awesome surprise talented little chickie! Fiona is sensational, frankly they all are... they forged ahead of hundreds and hundreds of applicants to make it into the Shed. 12 truly worthy winners in my books.
So this will be the longest blog post as let's be honest, it was a HUGE week!
Signature - an Opera cake - sure, I whip these up every other week.... NOT! I had to use everything I learnt in the shed, and then some to even muster up an idea of what to make for this one.
In typical Monica fashion, I made many different flavour combination even playing with designs and shapes to come up with my final signature submission. Hot messes but it was to test teh flavours and would they set in time to serve.
Playing with design, an upright Opera cake
In the end I went with a wattle seed and coffee liquor soaked sponge, with Macadamia cream and espresso cream. It was superb, Set a treat in my fridge in under an hour with a shiney glaze you could do your make up in.
Perfect layers test baking
Testing the decoration design I wanted for the day, I settled on this one as I loved the peek-a-boo effect
On the day, hot day I might mention. Maggie and Matt came around. Matt was very interested in Opera cake as it's close to his heart. Maggie got into my butter creams etc and loved them! Matt discovers Antonio and I have similar decorations planned and ask if we copied each other, um no! We are just both artistic creatures!
I then ran my upright opera cake idea via Matt to see if it would have flown on the day and he shut it down straight way - thank god I went with the standard flat version!
Fatal mistake of the day was trusting those f'n fridges to set my Opera cake! Thinking I had a whole fridge to myself and that mine was the first to go into the fridge should be plenty of time to set... WRONG!!! Liv and Antonio were smarter than I and used the freezers. Theirs set perfectly, mine was still soft when it came to cut it as it was still practically at room temp. What a pity.
Technical bake, how unusual, something I've never made (Am I a baker at all?!?!?!) Sfogliatelle - love to eat them, never thought to make them. I was put off when I saw on Bake Boss that they deep fry the lobster tails. Never realised they could be baked.
I pulled the dough too much but coming second was good. Hell it was out of 3, 3 would have been fine too. We all ate so much of the filling we were sick all arvo over it.
Showstopper day is finally here.
The crew are setting up outside and my hands won't sit still.
I have planned the most ambitious large showstopper cake with 3 different types of cake, with 3 different fillings, drawing upon lessons learnt in the shed over recent weeks. I need to pee as the cameras start to roll.
I spent 3 weeks designing the cake, with many versions from a crazy hard and time consuming version with butter cream flowers and painters drips , to air brushing Italy to finally going with a kaleidoscope of isomalt geometric shaped, touched with edible gold, with the colours conveying the message inside the cake and the regions of Italy. And yes, I really do test everything at home, with timers and everything!
Practicing buttercream flowers
1st test bake, took way too long to achieve, even at my fast pace.
And the final version, just what I saw in my head! Heaven on earth, Italy!
The day was crazy, I have no idea where the time went, I ran and ran and ran. People were arriving and calling out to us, it was so emotional.
My babies finally arrived and were calling me from the windows, that was it, I was crying tears of joy while trying to slap together the most crooked cake of my life!
Seconds to go, I run around the back oven and realise I forgot to put the meringues in the top tier of the cake... FUCK!!! (Yes I swear a lot, get over it) In judging Matt says the top tier wasn't sweet enough for him, I stay quiet as it was meant to be perfectly balanced with the meringues inside it (was this the points at the end that I missed out on? Who knows!). Maggie loved it.
Matt loved the middle limoncello tier and both loved the concept of the bottom tier but felt the cake was a little too either dry or dense. I said I had made it denser as it needed to support the other 2 tier without any cake supports (As Matt wasn't a fan of cake supports after he gave Antonio a hard time in episode 1 with his Ombre cake). I can almost see all the cake makers reading this and gasping... 3 tier cake and no cake supports... yes... it was tough to make it happen without dowels etc!! I was shitting myself the entire time of an impending collapse as it was a warm day too! (Which now explains why it was rather crooked too right!)
The rest as they say is history. How wonderful to be reunited with my precious family and friends. To have made so many new ones.
I regret not having taken more photos with the crew but it was so busy on the day and I didn't want to bother them anymore than necessary.
Thank you so much everyone involved.... I couldn't have gotten this far without a single soul...A huge thank you to my mommy and wonderful husband, for without their support, there was no way I could have gone for this. My gorgeous children who suffered through 5 weeks without me. My best friend and soul mate, Janine, who is my social media one-woman cheerleading squad and awesome baby sitter. And last but certainly not least, the friends and family that came out in support, and special friends that flew in from all over Australia to be there!!! Gosh I am spoilt!
Recipes can be found here:
Masterpiece Cake - https://www.lifestylefood.com.au/recipes/25975/ode-to-italy-masterpiece
Opera Cake -
A final big hugs from the Bake Off Shed... Monica (who is now very sad to leave!)