Annabel Coulter was the youngest contestant on the 2018 Great Kiwi Bake Off, but she wasn’t about to let her age stand in her way. Annabel went on to win the competition and prove that her age was not going to stand in her way!
Now, several months on, Annabel sat down with Fennec and Friends to discuss how her love of all things cooking has exploded since her time on the reality show, as well as her future in the culinary industry.
What was your first experience with baking?
“Right from the young age of three, I began to bake with my Gran in her kitchen out at Geraldine. Gingernuts were (and still are) a firm family favourite. My Gran’s recipe made the perfect gingernut that was neither too hard on the teeth nor too soft and they are something that I still love to make today. I remember when Gran and I would be in the kitchen and Grandad would try to come and steal some biscuit mixture or lick the bowl, and Gran in her most stern voice would tell him to “let Annabel lick the bowl!”
What has been one of your most triumphant recipes?
“I think my most successful recipe would be a delicious rough puff pastry that has nowhere near the amount of effort of making a proper puff pastry but has the same benefits. Once you get down the technique of not rubbing the butter too much into the flour, you get an incredibly buttery, flaky pastry that only takes about half an hour.”
What has been one of your biggest cooking flops?
“I once tried to make gluten-free puff pastry to make into croissants, and it’s safe to say that it was a total disaster! They were so hard I think they could have been used as hockey pucks!”
What made you decide to apply for The Great Kiwi Bake Off?
“Growing up I watched Chelsea New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker, and I decided that if there were ever going to be another season or another similar show, then I would definitely apply! I also adore watching the British version of Bake Off, so when I heard the news that there was going to be a kiwi version, I couldn’t send in my application quick enough!”
Did you feel confident going into the competition?
“Once the initial elation of making it onto the show wore off, I felt incredibly uncertain competing. It made me question whether all my friends and family were just being nice when they said that my baking was good! I had no idea what the other bakers were going to be like, and I knew that I would probably be the youngest in the tent. Although being the youngest didn’t bother me that much as I hoped that some fresh ideas would be an advantage! “
How would you describe the feeling of winning the New Zealand competition?
“Filming the entire show in just two weeks was a whirlwind, so much so that when I made it to the final it just felt like another day of baking! I was so relieved that I made it to the final bake and after an incredible couple of days of filming the final, winning was the cherry on top! I can honestly say that I wasn’t expecting to win, especially after coming third in the final technical. I don’t think it even sunk in until I was able to celebrate the win with my friends and family five months later.”
Have any opportunities have arisen as a result of your time on the show?
“The opportunities the show has brought up have been beyond my wildest dreams! Featuring in magazines, developing recipes, talking on the radio, meeting fans on the street and even having some of my recipes published has been incredible and very surreal. I often get asked what the prize was for winning the show. Even though there was no official prize, I couldn’t be happier or more thankful for the things I have been able to do because of winning.”
Are you currently exploring any new avenues in terms of cooking or baking?
“I have been spending a lot of time developing recipes for various events and foundations which has been incredible. I am also moving to Wellington at the end of March to start my study at Le Cordon Bleu to become a pastry chef.”
“My ultimate dream would be to have my own dessert bar where people can come to have as many desserts as they like! There would be a mix of classic desserts and new desserts that challenge some people’s ideas of what a sweet dish is. Although in saying this I am very much looking forward to getting experience in the field and grow my skills.”
What advice would you give people looking to apply for The Great Kiwi Bake Off next season?
“For people that are thinking of applying for next season, I would say go for it! Even if you are a little unsure, apply and see what happens, because it is truly an experience of a lifetime. Whether you’re filming an application video or in front of professional cameras, always try to be yourself and just relax, you’ll get used to them very quickly. If you are lucky enough to make it onto the show, take it in as much as possible, the journey is so surreal that when you’ve finished filming, you’ll say, “did that really just happen?!”
Why not give it a go! APplications for Season Two of The Great Kiwi Bake Off are open now!