Previously on The Great British Bake Off: The Bakewells had to make desserts, which included crèmes brulees, some crazy meringue cake that I’m pretty sure Mary Berry just made up, and an insane number of cheesecakes. Ian triumphed once again, while Sandy peaced out.
This is apparently ‘do without’ week—do without gluten, sugar, and dairy. I hate this sort of baking. It never quite tastes right.
Everyone agrees that Ian’s the one to beat just now. Well, yeah. But it’s all in good fun, because this is the Bake Off, the nicest competition show in the history of television.
First challenge: they need to make a sugar-free cake. They can use any other type of sweetener, just not sugar. Mary figures most of the Bakewells will use some sort of syrup to sweeten the cakes. Paul says that some will use fruit like apples and pears, but they’ll need more than that, something more robust, like orange or lemon to really bring flavor to the sponge.
The judges check in with Ian, who’s making a pear, ginger, honey cake. Nice. It also has walnuts and ginger. Mmm. I hope they post the recipe for this one. He admits that some of his practices came out a little dense.
On to Mat, who tells them about his carrot cake sweetened with dates and honey. Dates are actually really good for flavouring something like carrot cake. I make banana bread for my little ‘un that’s just sweetened with dates and it’s really delicious. Less sweet than your typical banana bread, but still really good.
Paul is also making a carrot cake, and like Ian, his has sometimes worked and sometimes not. He’s using agave syrup in his, as well as raisins and chopped pecans.
Nadiya is doing a genoise sponge, relying entirely on air being beaten into the batter to make it rise.
Tamal is making a grapefruit and honey polenta cake. YES! So yummy sounding.
Alvin is making a pineapple upside-down cake, again with agave. How very retro of him. Those always look like they belong on an episode of Mad Men to me.
The judges move on to Ugne, who’s going sugar and gluten free with a mix of nut and quinoa flours in her chocolate and hazelnut cake, sweetened with agave. She’s going to arrange the layers in a checkerboard pattern. This sounds very ambitious. I wish her luck.
Cakes go into the oven, mostly for 30 minutes, from the sound of it.
Nadiya’s making a no-cook blueberry jam, thickened with basil seeds. Interesting. That’ll be sandwiching blueberry and caraway crunch cake. She used mulberry molasses to sweeten it. I’ve never heard of that.
Flora’s filling her cake with a bramley apple compote. The cake is pistachio and cardamom cake, which sounds delicious, but I’m a total sucker for cardamom.
The Bakewells obsessively watch their cakes and stress about burning, as they do. Layers start to come out and everyone seems fairly pleased. Flora pops in some madelines she’s using for decoration. Tamal, of course, starts injecting his layers with syringes of juice.
Just about everyone’s making a cheese icing, either with cream cheese or mascarpone. Yeah, now I think of it, icing would be hard to do without any sugar. Most basic icings are just icing sugar and butter. Can’t quite frost a cake with just butter, unless you’re feeding Homer Simpson. The Bakewells mix in agave and honey and maple syrup. Alvin, having just made an upside-down cake, is already done. The others start frantically fanning their layers to cool them. Alvin worries he’s gone too simple. Ugne’s cutting rings out of her layers to make that checkerboard pattern.
Layers are frosted. A lot of these cakes look really messy. Ugne’s looks half melted and she’s starting to stress. Apparently her top layer broke and now cake and drippy icing are just going everywhere.
Sugar-free cakes are plated and presented. Ok, now most of them look a lot nicer.
Tamal’s honey and grapefruit polenta cake looks pretty to Mary, and the grapefruit flavor is really great. I must make this cake.
Ian’s honey and flowers cake is decorated prettily with pansies. Mary wonders if that’s a little too simple. Whatever, Mary, I think it looks great. She also doesn’t think the cake itself is sweet enough.
Mat’s carrot cake looks unbaked to Paul and Mary says it looks like Christmas pudding. Paul tries it and says he likes it.
Paul’s carrot and pecan cake looks quite delish and Paul says it has a great flavor, though it’s a teensy bit overdone. Mary admires his decorating work with the icing.
Ugne’s ugly cake looks ok inside, but the chocolate isn’t really great. The hazelnut cream is yummy, though, so there’s that.
Nadiya’s blueberry and caraway crunch cake has that amazing blueberry ‘jam’, which Paul loves, but the genoise is dry.
Flora’s pistachio, apple, and cardamom cake looks lovely on the outside, but the cake inside has too much moisture and is stodgy. Paul disapproves of the choice of apples.
The pineapple upside-down cake is superb, according to Paul. You can breathe now, Alvin.
Technical time: Paul’s recipe for gluten-free pittas. Off they go. Mat’s relieved that at least he knows what this technical is supposed to look like.
Mary and Paul discuss. Paul says they’re testing the Bakewells on their knowledge of gluten-free flours. I’d be sunk. I never use gluten-free flour because why the hell would I? Happily no one in my family needs to go gluten free, and gluten-free flour makes utterly shitty bread. You have to add all sorts of extra stuff to it just to get it to work.
In the tent, Flora says she’s never made pitta. They’ve all been giving psyllium powder, which acts as a gluten substitute for bread. Most of them don’t know what the hell it is. I’ve never heard of it either. They mix dough, commenting on how wet it is. Mat wonders if he should add more flour. Don’t do it, Mat! Never add extra flour!
Flora and Nadiya have managed to get what looks like a pretty nice, smooth dough, while the others still have a somewhat tacky mess. They start popping their doughs into proving drawers. All except Tamal, that is, because his dough doesn’t seem to be coming together at all.
Breads start coming out of proving drawers. They start dividing the doughs up into 12 pittas. Alvin can’t remember if naan bread and pittas are the same, or what the difference is. Tamal’s just happy his dough rose a bit. He’s not very confident at all.
Pittas are popped in the ovens. Nobody seems to be giving them a second prove. Paul doesn’t have any confidence in his pittas, and Mat thinks his look grey and dense.
Breads are pulled out of the oven and presented. Tamal informs us this has not been his favourite technical.
Mary and Paul come in and get started. Flora’s are nice and thin and some have pockets while some don’t. Ian’s are underbaked. Ugne’s are doughy. Mat’s look good but are too thick for the envelope. Tamal’s suck. Paul’s have a nice colour and a perfect pocket. Nadiya’s could have used another minute or two in the oven but are otherwise great. Alvin’s are fairly uneven. Last to first: Alvin, Tamal, Ugne, Ian, Mat, Flora, Paul, Nadiya. Paul gives her props for coming first after having struggled in so many past technical.
Showstopper day. The judges confer. Ian’s not doing so well, and neither is Ugne. But it’s ok, people have saved themselves on the showstopper before!
For their showstopper, they need to make an ice cream roll, but of course, their ice cream has to be dairy free. Sure, why not? Also, they only have four and a half hours, which really isn’t enough time to make ice cream. Well, not enough time to make a custard ice cream, anyway.
Mary says this is a real toughie: dairy free ice cream is hard, and then they also have to make a perfect sponge, delicious jam, and make it all look glorious.
Most of the Bakewells are using coconut milk in their ice cream. The judges stop by Alvin’s station and he tells them he’s using a classic Philippine flavor—young coconut. He’s also using mango and passion fruit in his roll.
On to Paul: mango, lime, coconut ice cream with pineapple jam. He’s doing a whole beach sunbathing scene on top that Mel can’t seem to quite comprehend.
Tamal’s making passion fruit ice cream and a pineapple jam with a lemon-flavoured sponge. He made a tiny bunting on the train down to decorate it with.
Mat is rolling is raspberry ice cream with raspberry jam and a plain sponge. Paul tells him this’ll have to be perfect, since it’s so simple.
Ugne is making peanut butter ice cream surrounded by grape jam and a chocolate sponge. Mmmm. For some reason, Paul is not convinced about the flavor combinations. Clearly, Paul did not grow up in the United States, where peanut butter and grape jam/jelly sandwiches are as integral to childhood as scraped knees and fluffer nutters. But seriously, who doesn’t know that peanut butter, grape, and chocolate will all go together?
The Bakewells start pouring ice cream into their freezers. Nadiya’s making a chocolate ice cream and is glad she didn’t go for a tropical theme, since that’s what almost everyone else did.
Ian is making mango and stem ginger ice cream for his little desert island roll.
Bakewells start obsessively watching their ice cream, praying for it to freeze.
Flora’s making a pear, chocolate, macadamia nut buche, which sounds pretty delicious. It’s never gone to plan before, so she’s not too optimistic.
Nadiya is piping out a strawberry lime mousse to put in the centre of her ice cream roll. Ian, too, is adding a core, though his is mango.
Most of the bakers are inlaying designs on their sponge. Nadiya’s is inspired by henna and looks beautiful. Now Mat’s worried that he’s not going elaborate enough.
Sponges are mixed and popped into the oven. They watch and get nervous. Ian tells Mel he was thinking of doing some twiddly bits but doesn’t think he has time. She urges him to go ahead and do his twiddly bits. This is the dirtiest the show’s been since the nutty squirrel a few seasons back.
Sponges come out and are unmoulded. Mat thinks his might be a little overbaked. Some of the ice creams have set better than others. Nadiya’s is so hard she can’t eve get the paddle out. Paul’s is basically still liquid.
Crunch time. Flora is slicing her sponge very thinly. Ian’s ice cream has frozen just as he wanted. Ugne’s put her jam inside the ice cream, which seems to have caused a huge mess. Ice cream rolls are placed in rolls and the sponge rolled around them, Alvin realizes his ice cream roll is too big for the sponge to get around it. Ugne’s ice cream is going everywhere. She’s totally going home this week. Rolls go back in the freezer to set a bit before judging. I notice there seem to be personal freezers at each station. I wonder if that’s because of last year’s bingate.
While the rolls re-freeze the Bakewells make decorations. Paul’s putting little fondant boobs on his sunbather, which entertains me, for some childish reason.
Rolls are decorated. Paul’s sunbather is kind of adorable. Flora’s going crazy with the gold, even spray-painting some massive thing of chocolate.
Tamal’s passion fruit roll looks fun but there’s a crack in the side. The flavor is stunning, according to Paul. Mary loves it too.
Flora’s chocolate and pear buche looks quite stunning, though Paul thinks it’s flat. Mary says there’ not nearly enough sponge.
Mat’s raspberry and coconut roll doesn’t seem to have any ice cream in it. He did it Swiss roll style, which just doesn’t work.
Nadiya’s chocolate, strawberry, and lime roll is beautiful in taste and appearance.
Alvin’s buko padan and tropical flavours roll is really good, though the mango got lost.
Ugne’s mess of a chocolate, peanut butter and grape roll looks sad to Mary. Oh, man, you made Mary sad. The peanut ice cream is fantastic and the flavours are good, though.
Paul’s dessert island ice cream getaway is really adorable and fun. Paul cuts right through the sunbather and says the flavours are excellent.
Ian’s dessert island is fantastically delicious, like everything he does.
Post-showstopper discussion. Nadiya’s up there, and Ian may have saved himself. Ugne, on the other hand, has had a rough day, and they weren’t blown away by Flora. I kind of doubt Flora’s going home.
Time for the reckoning. First, the good news: Nadiya is star baker! Mel is tasked with telling Ugne it’s time to go home. Yep, saw that coming.