Last night's episode was a toughie … until the fondant bikini lady turned up! Here's the best bits from The Great British Bake Off
Week five of The Great British Bake Off and wasn't it excruciatingly tough? The remaining bakers were tasked with creating 'free-from' dishes; catering for the food intolerant and the pathologically virtuous with sugar-free cakes, gluten-free pitta and dairy-free ice-cream for 'ice-cream rolls'. Which we all know was basically a poshed-up Arctic roll. Oh, the memories.
I miss sugar; after all these years, we glucose
To start things off, it was sugar-less cakes. In what looked to be inexorably brilliant news for nectar-peddling health stores all over the country – who, let's face it, already charge eye-watering sums without the endorsement of the BBC1's most popular show – the contestants were tasked with making cakes with sugar substitutes.
They could include honey, fruit syrup and agave nectar but they couldn't compromise on the texture and flavour of their cakes. Tough call. If you're worried that all of this sounds like loads less fun than regular cakes, that's because it is. There wasn't this much eye-rolling from contestants since baked-Alaska-gate (more on that later).
As if the absence of sugar wasn't virtuous enough, Paul and Mat were verging dangerously close to the savoury end of things by adding carrots to their cakes. So it's carrots. Without any sugar. Baked in the oven. Sounds like the sort of thing that would be nice with a roast dinner. If you want any indication of the disdain Mary feels for recipes that veer too far away from the traditional, look no further than the look on her face when Ugne told her she was using quinoa flour in her cake. Be afraid, protein peddlers, be very afraid.
When it comes to sugar-free cakes, it would seem that simplicity paid off for Alvin, who impressed judges with his pineapple upside down cake despite fretting about being finished long before the other contestants. Resplendent Ugne, on the other hand, fell foul of faffing about with three different types of gluten-free flower, baking what can only be described as a big pile of brown goo, hopelessly 'disguised' under a carpet of purple flowers.
We yeast to be friends, but he grew kneady
On to the technical challenge, where the amateur bakers were tasked with making a dozen identical gluten-free pitta breads. Yep. We think they sound rubbish, too (and definitely not as good as our gluten-free fish fingers).
The first obstacle which the bakers had to overcome was grappling with mysterious-looking bags of brown powder – we're aware that sounds like drugs and we're making the grown-up decision to move past it. This is a family show. The powder turned out to be fibrous psyllium seeds, which the bakers were to use in place of flour. Upon opening the bags, the first thing that struck the contestants was its vomit-inducing smell. Sounding more and more delicious yet? Hmmm.
As the baking bgean in the earnest, the contestants became more preoccupied with talk of pockets and flaps than you would expect to hear at a gynecological examination. No one seemed to be at all clear about what on earth they should be doing, despite the fact that both pitta bread and hummus have been stalwarts in most British homes since the mid-80s. Tamal's pittas were round and fat, and about as far away from the kebab shop staple as it's possible to get. Alvin was convinced his should look 'like a triangle', which is a novel approach by anyone's standards.
Come judging, it was Nadiya who came out on top, producing pittas with pocket sizeable enough to house a pound of steaming doner meat. This inevitably prompted Mary to exclaim, "There's room for all sorts of things in there!" (more gynecology). Unsurprisingly, it was Alvin's misshapen, pallid, solid-looking offerings that failed to impress the judges and he ended up at the bottom of the pile.
To be honest, we're all losers here as this was probably the least appetising round in Bake Off history, with even Nadiya's winning pittas looking like, well, some dry gluten-free bread made with smelly powder. To sum up: this was probably not one to try at home.
Dairy-free ice-cream? Snow problem
Things took a much livelier turn for the showstopper round, where contestants were tasked with making dairy-free ice-cream, predominantly via the liberal application of coconut milk. Some comic relief was provided by contestant Paul, otherwise known as ‘the other Paul’, who created a desert island complete with scantily clad saucy fondant woman. Everyone, including us, got the giggles – a relief after the laugh-free pitta round. Tamal carried on his reputation as the Bake Off dreamboat and adorned his creation with baby bunting. Ovaries exploding all over the country.
Mat made liberal use of his fire service training while frantically fanning a wonkily shaped Swiss roll in an attempt to cool it. It didn't work; he ended up assembling it on the floor with the shame of it all.
Meanwhile, we all panicked because cake maestro Alvin did his 'go-to' cake (upside-down pineapple) and managed to do it (perfectly, but with a little assistance from the other Paul who stepped in when his monstrous green cream refused to be contained within his sponge). Still, our Alv was done in about three minutes, or so it seemed. Cue never-ending shots of him sitting doing nothing. Nothing. Except worrying about if he'd done the wrong thing by being too simple. Oh, how we fretted.
Then there was Ugne, who broke with convention again – never break with convention Ugne! – and attempted to put jam in the middle of her ice-cream, stopping it from setting properly. More goo.
Paul Hollywood was suitably impressed with Paul Jagger's buxom fondant lady friend but in the end, star baker went to a very deserving Nadiya (take that Ian!). Unsurprisingly, it was Ugne’s time to leave the tent, which was very disappointing as we suspect she might actually be the funnest professional athlete we’ve ever seen. Ugne, if you’d like to eat some goo over a glass of wine one day, give us a call.
Love GBBO? Want to read more? Try these articles:
- Ex-GBBO winner Frances Quinn has released her first baking book and it's obviously brilliant
- GBBO digest: creme bru-yay, all the cheesecakes and the saddest departure yet
- Great British Bake Off through the eyes of the superfan
For more fun foodie news direct to your inbox just sign up to our weekly newsletter