We’re (finally) back! Billy, having been declared Best in Show by Matt Moran’s dad, is fighting for an immunity pin. Will Hayden’s smug grin finally be wiped off his face? Billy is pretty much the first person who’s posed a serious threat to his status as sole holder of immunity.
Everyone arrives in the kitchen to learn that Christine Mansfield is the guest judge! She’s fantastic – so good she even balances out Matt Moran, who has also reappeared.
Billy will be cooking off against a woman who’s won thousands of awards. Everyone tries to guess who it is. Is it Margaret Fulton? No. It’s Merle Parish. The peanut gallery clap, clearly baffled. Merle walks through the door – ah, they’re CWA awards! She’s adorable. Merle tells us she thrives on competition. Man, she’s going to eat Billy alive.
She’s got seventy years of baking experience to Billy’s five. Merle has not put down her handbag, possibly concerned that Matt Moran will steal it. Fair enough.
Today they’ll be making peach blossom cake and cupcakes, following Merle’s recipe. Yeah, Billy’s done. These are classic cakes – his fancy-pants plating stuff won’t do him any good now.
Merle hand-wrote the recipe for Billy! He thinks it’s precious, but is less endeared when he realises there is no recipe for the icing. He guesses royal icing on the cupcakes and cream cheese icing on the cake. Merle says no, and looks at him like he’s an idiot.
They cut the cake. It is perfect! The cupcake is also magically delicious. Gary tries to gee up Billy, who is too nice. Merle has a bit more bite in her – she demands the pin as a souvenir when she wins. Gary’s in love.
They’re off! Billy starts on the peach blossom cake as it takes the longest. It sounds obvious but there are many contestants who wouldn’t have figured that out. Merle is taking her time, not rushing around. She takes the time to watch Billy, amused. Hayden’s worried about her, as he’s banking on a Merle victory. You just worry about yourself, Hayden.
Merle is a great explainer. The pink swirl moves in the cake as it cooks, apparently. She goes to look at what Billy’s doing, and silently gloats as she realises he’s doing it wrong. Looks like his swirl’s stuffed. It’s a cutthroat world in the CWA.
Kate asks Merle if she ever lets anyone lick the bowl. Merle thinks that’s lovely, and gives the peanut gallery the bowls. Merle is not worried that Billy’s beating her. This is the lowest-intensity challenge ever.
Billy tries to spy on Merle to get the icing recipe. She knows, and tells him to stop. It’s pretty clear that the secret icing recipe is the one on the back of the icing sugar packet – sugar, butter, water. Billy is baffled, even though he has the bag. Merle covers her completed icing so Billy can’t see what colour it’s meant to be. Sneaky!
Billy’s cupcakes are out of the oven. Merle is outraged that Billy has used a skewer to test them. It is a CWA no-no. Merle is having conniptions.
Merle is bored and sits down to knit while her cakes cool. She is a champ. Best grandmother ever. I notice that Gary is not hanging around annoying her. Meanwhile, Billy keeps opening the oven. You can’t do that, Billy. Even Dani knows that’s wrong! Merle is time-checking him. She’s got Gary pouring her cups of tea now.
Gary is unable to stress out Merle. He claims there is nothing more enticing than all that yummy icing. Merle is unimpressed. They’re done. Merle tells Billy his cakes are very good, and is almost convincing.
Billy’s up first. Christine is impressed by the CWA classic packet icing, but Matt spots the slightly messy application. Other than that, the cupcakes are perfect. Christine can tell from the way Moran cuts the cake that it’s dense, and there’s no swirl inside. His icing is the right colour, though. It’s undercooked! Should have kept the oven shut.
Merle’s plate is next. Everything looks better. Her cupcakes have air pockets! They are magically delicious, however. Moran won’t shut up about the air pockets and thinks the cake is small. Matt Preston points out that it is in fact perfect. It cuts like a cloud, apparently, and the swirl looks great. Matt Preston has an emotional moment about the crumb of the cake.
Decision time! Billy gets straight sevens, losing points for undercooked cake and messy icing. Gary tells him he can’t be disappointed.
Yes he can – Merle gets straight eights. Matt Preston is still talking about the crumb of the cake. Merle is unimpressed with Matt Moran’s dramatic pauses, but is delighted to have won. Gary gives her a pin as a souvenir. Straight to the pool room. Billy is pleased enough with his handwritten recipe.
Merle leaves without her handbag. Fire the continuity guy! See you tomorrow for Ellie’s biggest failure yet.