Despite being one of the Nation’s favourite television programmes, there have always been rumblings in certain quarters that the show has excluded those with dietary requirements. The Great British Bake Off amended this in its latest episode, with every challenge orientated around using alternative ingredients.
As usual, it kicked off with the Signature Bake. This time, Paul and Mary tasked the bakers with creating a cake without sugar.
Both Mat and Paul (not Hollywood) decided to go for the ordinary carrot cake. Mat’s ended up being too full of ingredients that Mary and Paul seemed to dislike it from the start, but they had to concede it was good once they tasted it. It’s always good to see the judges have to admit that their initial judgment of appearance isn’t always accurate.
Chirpy Alvin finished more than half an hour before the others, so made a humorous attempt to look busy; wiping down his workbench, doing a bit of networking and presumably, catching up on the day’s newspapers. He then continued his charming habit of calling Paul (Hollywood) ‘sir’ all of the time, which may or may not have helped him garner further praise for his “superb” upside down sponge cake.
Meanwhile, poor Flora baked a nice, but very dull, pistachio, apple and cardamom Madeleine cake that was as boring as it sounds.
Paul’s recipe for gluten free pitta bread formed the Technical Challenge. Sadly, Alvin couldn’t match his previous performance from the previous round, mainly because he hadn’t baked gluten free bread before and didn’t know what a pitta bread looked like; which does somewhat hider how one approaches such a challenge.
Alvin wasn’t alone in struggling with the Technical. None of the bakers seemed especially comfortable with the challenge; Tamal’s doughy discs were coated in flour and Ugne’s resembled rather dusty coasters. Former favourite, Ian, could only manage a rather dreary fifth place. Although, Nadiya managed to surprise everyone (I think including herself), by finally doing well with a Technical Challenge and came first.
It may have just been an editing quirk, but during the judging, Mary seemed bizarrely fixated upon the pockets of the baker’s pittas; even resorting to making her own, when she couldn’t find one in an offering. Perhaps this is Mary’s criteria in order to be sure her usual order of kebab meat, lettuce, onion and tomato would fit inside.
The second day began with the Showstopper Challenge; Ice Cream Roll without dairy products was the desired product. Paul (N.H.) produced a terrific looking island complete with sunbathing woman, which provided Mel and Sue with further material for their customary double entendre, especially when a gap in the “gusset” was noticed.
Underlying the whole episode was the other bakers’ desire to take the top spot from Ian, who had been crowned Star Baker for three of the previous four weeks. His efforts in the first day didn’t go down too well with Paul and Mary, who were critical of his ‘Honey and Flower cake’ and pitta bread. Fortunately, he managed to pull it together in the Technical Challenge by producing an “ingenious” ‘Dessert Island’ ice cream Showstopper. Nadiya just managed to keep her fake smile going whilst the cameras were running and commented that Ian “is clever”. How kind.
The reversal of fortunes continued for Ugne, who had a difficult first day, then produced a chocolate, peanut butter and grape jam Showstopper that wasn’t enough to save her. It was a shame to see her go, but (somehow) we’re already half-way through the competition and somebody has to leave each week.
Overall, it was a rather ordinary episode of Bake Off with no memorable ‘watercooler moment’, which is rather nice to see in these days of manufactured reality TV dramas. The comradeship between the bakers, presenters and judges continued to shine through, for example Paul gave a helping hand to Alvin; after all it is only a baking show.
Next week, it’s Pastry and the return of the soggy bottom…