Tis the season for The Great Kiwi Bake Off Celebrity Special as six stars celebrities deck the halls, trim the tree and bake up a Christmas storm.
The festive competitors include National MP Simon Bridges — in the eye of a political storm — Shortland Street star Rebekah Randell, funnyman Josh Thomson, The Casketeer's Francis Tipene, and comedians Laura Daniel and Justine Smith.
With $50,000 up for grabs, the celebs start off with a snowball baking challenge, and whip up the finest festive fondant feasts to try to wow the judges with their showstopping selfies.
Bridges tells Spy that getting in the kitchen was nerve-wracking and definitely out of his comfort zone.
"I haven't baked much since childhood so I did a lot of practising beforehand, but in the end still not nearly enough. My competitors were amazing and, as I think the show will attest, I brought a knife to a gunfight. I am glad I did it, I learned a lot but I was well outclassed," says Bridges, who was raising money for Dress for Success Bay of Plenty.
The former National Party leader learned something in the kitchen that he may want to take back to the party cauldron.
"I learned one baking lesson that stood me in good stead: if its sugar and butter you can't beat it enough, for everything else you certainly can," he says.
Randell's charity is StarJam and she put a lot of pressure on herself to do well.
"I was so excited but have never been so nervous! We were all pretty nervous walking in to be honest!"
The element of the unknown for the first challenge added to her apprehension.
"I also had no idea what level of baking experience the other contestants had," says Randell.
Tipene did three practices with his cake prior to going on the show and, like all the celebrities, was surprisingly nervous.
"The charity I chose was "I am Hope" for Mike King, for suicide awareness. In the line of work that I do, I see lots of deaths as a result of suicide and this is a kaupapa that is important to me. Mike King is doing awesome mahi for a lot of people," says Tipene.
Tipene says he really learned to think outside the box when competing and got very creative and hopes folks at home do too.
"This Christmas I suggest people use things that you wouldn't ordinarily use. I'm not really an imaginative person. A lot of the time you would eat with your eyes. Presentation is important and because it's Christmas, give it a 100 per cent Christmas feeling."
Thomson, who is raising money for Variety, says everyone was wonderful on the show and he had great fun.
"The competitive element affected me much more than I thought it would. I generally run in a mild state of flummox at the best of times, but with the clock ticking down and my creation barely holding together, I may have lost my noodle," he says.
The funnyman did have some interesting tips for home bakers this season.
"You can impart scents on baking without necessarily including the ingredients. Put a bunch of coffee beans or some orange oil on a cinnamon stick and pop it in the cake tin. The cake will smell like coffee or orange cinnamon but not taste like it. Why would you want to do this? I don't know. My secrets don't make sense. That's why I keep them to myself."