The search for Aus­tralia’s best baker ..........

Nine is count­ing on sweet suc­cess as it en­ters the re­al­ity kitchen, writes Dar­ren Cartwright

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HAV­ING be­ing caught loaf­ing in the kitchen, Chan­nel 9 is bank­ing on The Great Aus­tralian Bake Off to be the next re­al­ity cook­ing show win­ner. The se­ries, set in the man­i­cured gar­dens of Vic­to­ria’s Wer­ribee Man­sion, pits 10 am­a­teur cooks in a three-dish bake-off each episode.

In each hour-long episode, bak­ers com­plete a sig­na­ture dish, a tech­ni­cal chal­lenge and cook a show stop­per.

Al­though this is Nine’s first full-on foray into the re­al­ity kitchen, the net­work doesn’t want to over cook it.

It has com­mis­sioned just eight episodes hosted by Anna Gare and Shane Ja­cob­son.

The judges for The Great Aus­tralian Bake Off are Dan Lepard and Kerry Vin­cent, with the se­ries based on the pop­u­lar Bri­tish se­ries, which first aired in 2010.

Nine’s com­peti­tors have had in­cred­i­ble suc­cess with cook­ing shows orig­i­nat­ing from the UK – Chan­nel 10 with MasterChef and Seven with My Kitchen Rules. While Nine has been a lit­tle slow to jump on the band­wagon.

Nine’s pro­duc­tion ex­ec­u­tive Court­ney Gib­son says the Aussie se­ries of­fers a fresh for­mat. She says it is more rel­e­vant to the ev­ery­day cook than the other two se­ries be­cause it purely in­volves bak­ing.

The Great Aus­tralian Bake Off cov­ers all the basics of cook­ing, from pas­tries to pies, and is not bogged down with point scor­ing, Gib­son says.

‘‘It’s not like we have a big clock and they (con­tes­tants) are get­ting the time calls and the re­minders, but it’s a lit­tle more gen­tle,’’ she says.

‘‘The look is dif­fer­ent and ev­ery­thing is fresh, es­pe­cially look­ing over the gar­den. You’re not in a stu­dio with lights and the set has a great feel to it.’’

In the weeks lead­ing into each episode the con­tes­tants are given a heads up on the theme of each week and are en­cour­aged to per­fect their sig­na­ture dish in ad­vance.

How­ever, the ‘‘tech­ni­cal chal­lenge’’ and the ‘‘show stop­per bake-off’’ are ran­dom and test the con­tes­tants on their abil­ity to cor­rectly read and ex­e­cute a recipe, plus show­ing cre­ativ­ity.

‘‘The ‘tech­ni­cal chal­lenge’ is ranked – it’s not points based and the ‘show stop­per’ is about great pre­sen­ta­tion, cre­ativ­ity and flair.’’

It’s not only Aus­tralia that has picked up the bake-off for­mat – sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries have bought it as has Amer­i­can net­work CBS.

To find the Aussie con­tes­tants Gib­son says pro­duc­ers scoured cook­ing clubs through­out the na­tion.

‘‘There were about 200 au­di­tions all up. We went to bak­ing clubs, uni­ver­si­ties, to the CWA and put the word out as best we could to find peo­ple,’’ she says.

‘‘There is some­thing about the char­ac­ters and the peo­ple pour­ing their all out and it’s a re­ally watch­able show.’’

The Great Aus­tralian Bake Off: Tues­days, 8pm, Nine, NBN

The Great Aus­tralian Bake Off hosts Shane Ja­cob­son and Anna Gare

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