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Sweet home Castlepoint

Courtnay Fafeita paid tribute to Wairarapa making a Castlepoint ice cream cake [above] on the Great Kiwi Bake Off show. PHOTO/JOHN LAZO-RON

John Lazo-Ron
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Fans of the Great Kiwi Bake Off television show got to see the sweet side of Wairarapa last Thursday after Masterton’s star baker Courtnay Fafeita made a cake in honour of one of the region’s most iconic landmarks.

The show’s third episode challenged the batch of contestants participating in the reality show to make a cake in the form of a New Zealand natural landmark in commemoration of Aotearoa Week.

Fafeita said she wanted to pay tribute to her beloved Wairarapa by portraying one of her favourite go-to places growing up as a child – Castlepoint.

“I love our region. It’s the most beautiful place. When I got that challenge, I had no interest in doing a landmark from somewhere else. I knew I wanted to focus on something from Wairarapa,” she said.

The 28-year-old, who became the show’s first ‘Star Baker’, is building a reputation to be a bit of a ‘whisk-taker’ with her baking and made a stunning ice cream cake in the form of Castlepoint that drew immediate praise from the judges for its flavours and presentation.

Using vanilla cream cake, she created the hills the iconic lighthouse sits on; hokey pokey icing shaped the rocks; lemon-lime jelly formed the sea; while she used shortbread to symbolise the beach’s sand.

“I love your rocks, and I love your sea,” judge Sue Fleischl said; while, co-judge Dean Brettschneider said, “All the components work”.

Fafeita said her summer moments at the beach in Castlepoint played a big part in coming up with the flavours she used for the cake.

“I wanted to tie in the flavours I would have at Castlepoint growing up,” she said.

“When I was there, I would always have a Sprite and Hokey Pokey ice cream on the beach, so that’s the direction I went with.

“I wouldn’t say it was the best cake that I’ve made, but it is very Wairarapa and I tried my best in the time limit that we had.”

Masterton’s Courtnay Fafeita was the Star Baker on the premiere episode of the Great Kiwi Bake Off.

Fafeita said her initial plan was to make a cake on the Tararuas but changed her mind after thinking viewers wouldn’t recognise them in cake form.

“I grew up living right under [the Tararuas] and I bloody love them. But I didn’t think that would translate overly well to the TV as they would just look like mountains, so I didn’t go down that route,” she said.

“Then I looked at photos on my phone and the one photo I kept coming back to was Castlepoint. My uncle has a bach out there and it’s on the beach that I went out to growing up, so I’ve always been a Castlepoint gal.

“It’s such a beautiful beach and I love sitting on the beach looking up at the lighthouse and thought I had a better chance to carve that out of cake.

“I am glad I was able to showcase even just a little bit of Wairarapa on the tele.”

Fafeita, who has represented New Zealand in discus and hammer throwing, has been deemed a clear front-runner on the show after the first three episodes.

After taking out ‘Star Baker’ on the opening episode, she has been pipped right at the end in the following two and could probably consider herself unlucky not to have back-to-back Star Baker wins.

She continues to grow in confidence as the show progresses after an initial half-baked start where she could clearly be seen terrified by the initial experience.

In one clip, the judges observe her Mocha and Marshmallow cake and ask if she had pre-rolled the sponge.

She replied,” I chose not to because every time I’ve rolled it, it’s cracked whereas leaving it to cool, this particular recipe … your faces are freaking me out!”

“It was terrifying,” she said.

“I can’t remember if I said it on the tele or not, but I have never been more scared to make a cake than that first cake. I was shaking. I remember them filming me when I was trying to crack an egg, and my hands were literally shaking.”

Courtnay Fafeita’s Ooki Soosh Cake that won her Star Baker on episode one of the Great Kiwi Bake Off. PHOTOS/FILE

On that episode, Fafeita’s ‘Ooki Soosh’ cake – designed in the form of a sushi roll, with wasabi and ginger on the side – was the ultimate icing on the cake for Fafeita to become this season’s first Star Baker.

She was filmed calling her mum about the win, which ultimately moved her to ‘tiers’ of joy.

“My mum had such a genuine reaction,” she said.

“I thought she might know why I was randomly calling her but it was a genuine reaction and that’s what made me cry.”

Fafeita said she was surprised that she was mentioned in the top runners again after episode three.

“I’m pretty stoked and surprised that I managed to be at the top for the first three episodes.

“If I hadn’t stuffed up the technical challenge so badly, I probably would have been okay, but here we are,” she said.

Fafeita was keeping tight-lipped about the show’s ultimate result and didn’t want to sugarcoat anything. Still, whatever the outcome, we can all be certain Wairarapa has a legend in the baking in Courtnay Fafeita.

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