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There is a day of such horror, such ignominy, that within the Country Women's Association it is spoken of only in whispers. It is a day considered by many to be the darkest hour of Australian baking, and none of us that were there have forgotten it.

It was the day MasterChef came to town.

Winter 2010. In an open field and against howling winds, a group of bright-eyed MasterChef hopefuls were charged with making cakes and jams for a group of 100 CWA women. The winds were angry that day, my friends, and they brought with them a massacre of ungodly depravity. Sometimes, when the air is very still, I can still hear their screams.

Two years on, and the All Stars are going about their morning in the MasterChef house. The girls have formed a close bond, and the cameras surprise them while they are, coincidentally, reading each others' cookbooks for no discernible reason.

As the only two males left in the competition, the responsibility falls to Chris and Callum to forge what may be the most awkward "bromance" in the history of Australian television. The prospect of the two of them hugging, high-fiving and generally canoodling as men do is somewhat discomforting, and we can only hope that they choose to keep their relationship "bloketonic".

Although the contestants have not yet been told of the coming challenge, there is a feeling that today could be their chance at baking redemption. Is there some supernatural sense of foreboding at work, or is Gary just really bad at giving hints? We may never be sure.

A short ride to the kitchen and their suspicions are realised. The contestants will each be baking one of eight classic Australian cakes, judged according to rigorous CWA standards. The ladies of the CWA are extraordinarily skilled in the kitchen and I for one am grateful that they haven't cottoned on to the fact that, as amateur cooks, they could just enter MasterChef every year and win the whole thing.

The judges for this challenge are top CWA officials Alison Mutton and Nelleke Gorton, together with seventy-year veteran of competitive baking, kitchen enforcer and semi-professional fairy godmother, Merle Parrish.

A montage of previous episodes takes us down memory lane and through a series of baked abominations from years past. Callum's deformed lamingtons. Marion's non-justiciable Neapolitan cake. Aaron's scones of shame. We see scenes of cakes being thrown into fiery furnaces, and there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Alison says she has "high expectations" for the challenge, displaying a keen understanding of both baking and irony, and Nelleke somewhat confusingly calls this challenge "naked cooking". Merle shoots George a coquettish glance and everyone blushes.

The contestants draw whisks to determine who will bake which cake, proving that true chefs are so immersed in the art of cooking that they refuse to use note paper preferring instead to write things down on everyday kitchen implements.

Julie draws a Neapolitan cake that isn't from Naples, Justine draws a lumberjack cake that has nothing to do with lumberjacks, and Marion draws a honey and chocolate log that, based on previous naming conventions, is probably made from duck fat and sand.

Marion says that the All Stars competition is like pitting Superman against Spiderman, and with that we cut to MasterChef's very own Boy Wonder, Callum …

Callum has only 100 minutes to cook a fruitcake that requires 45 minutes of preparation plus 80 minutes of baking. He remarks that he will need to be like "Merle on 6 cups of coffee" to get it done because apparently, after drinking lots of coffee, Merle likes to build time machines.

The challenge proceeds in a flurry of whisking and beating, and it soon becomes apparent that there are so many rules to making cakes in the CWA that it's hard to believe any of them actually enjoy it. We begin to suspect that regional baking competitions are just a primitive ritual through which country women assert hierarchical dominance over one another, which I guess is preferable to a Fight Club.

Marion's cakes are out of the oven but she is having issues rolling them. Their delicate surface is peeling off, having stuck to the baking paper. In the distance, a sponsor screams.

Meanwhile, Poh laments that she has forgotten her egg whites in her mixture and must now start again. This delay may be costly, as it has eaten up the time she saved at the start of the challenge by not bothering to read the recipe.

Callum's cake that takes 80 minutes to cook must now be done in just 45. Gary tells Callum to pray to the Oven Gods – a timely turn to religion given that at this point, science isn't going to help him. "What a pickle!" exclaims Callum, successfully navigating the timeslot-appropriate version of the string of colourful expletives he clearly would have preferred.

Knowing the enormity of the task before him, Merle jokes with Callum that he has to follow the rules and then laughs at his despair. It's all very lighthearted, but the subtext is clear: Fail in this challenge, Callum, and Merle's gonna cut you.

There is a little more baking to be done and, after time is counted out in the traditional MasterChef fashion, we are brought to the judging table.

Kate is up first and her lamingtons are fantastic. Julie's Neapolitan cake is perfection. Chris steps up, and Merle notes that the top and sides of his cake are the same colour. Chris giggles and prods her to reveal what his bottom looks like. I'm not really sure when prime-time television became an appropriate forum for a bearded man to flirt with an octogenarian, but it is of little consequence, as a knife slices first through the palpable sexual tension and then through Chris' cake.

Marion's turn comes around and, some issues with the surface notwithstanding, her cake tastes exquisite. Not that we ever doubted her because, let's face it; she probably should have won season two anyway.

A nervous Callum approaches, but his prayers to the Oven Gods have not been answered. Without enough time to cook, his cake - and his hope of winning the challenge - has sunk. The judges don't even taste it, but the editors thankfully cut out the part where Merle spits on the floor in disgust and slaps a tearful Callum clean across the mouth.

Poh's cake has also had an abbreviated time in the oven, and she prays desperately to the same Oven Gods that have forsaken Callum only moments earlier. In her case, the prayers are answered and her cake is cooked impeccably. Nelleke remarks that it is as wonderful as if she were eating a passionfruit, and Poh wonders if she couldn't have just served some actual passionfruit rather than wasting 100 minutes making a cake out of them.

The judging is over and a top three is announced. Poh's passionfruit cake is there, as well as the offerings from MasterChef's very own country women – Kate from Orange and Julie from the Central Coast. This top three confirms the television hypothesis that country women are excellent at baking, whereas urban men are only good at ruining weddings whilst unsupervised.

It's a close contest, but Julie's perfect Neapolitan cake is the winner. She receives $5000 for her chosen charity, Oxfam, but more importantly for all of us, the All Stars have redeemed the MasterChef name in baking. On this auspicious day the All Stars rejoice, a cry of hallelujah rings out, and after all these years, the Oven Gods are finally appeased.

Adam Liaw was invited to participate in MasterChef All Stars but was unable to do so due to commitments to his new SBS program Destination Flavour.

Destination Flavour starts August 16 on SBS.