Sugar free, gluten free & dairy free were the buzz words of last night’s Bake Off, but were the bakes going to be taste free? The half-way mark had arrived, and with only 1 star baker in the tent; were the other bakers annoyed that Ian had won the accolade 3 weeks in a row? Cue numerous interviews edited together of the bakers all nervously laughing and congratulating Ian, whilst secretly planning to add refined sugar to his bakes!
The first challenge was to bake a cake which was free from sugar, and by ‘sugar’ they mean refined sugar, so syrups were allowed along with honey and fruit to help sweeten the cakes. Some of the bakers kept things safe by just adapting their usual carrot cake, but did Alvin play things too safe with his pineapple upside down cake? Whilst the other bakers were manically making fillings, jams and frostings as well as decorations of truffles and madelines, Alvin calmly glazed his cake and was done with 30 minutes to….was that a mistake?
Ugne on the other hand went to town and decided to make her cake gluten free too, by using quinoa, almond and hazelnut flours and a hazelnut cream! Tamal was sensible and chose to make a grapefruit polenta cake, good choice of flavouring in my opinion!
When it came to judging, Alvin needn’t have worried with high praise given to his simple yet superb cake. Nadiya and Tamal also had great comments and good solid start to a tough weekend of challenges. Both Ian and Flora were told that their choice of fruit was a mistake; was our star baker in the danger zone? And poor Ugne’s cake looked so sad trying to be rescued in the fridge. I could foresee how the weekend was going already.
The technical challenge was to make 12 gluten free pitta breads…cue more hysterical laugher, with the bakers staring at the recipes with a look of “I have no idea” across their faces. It did surprise me to hear that many of the bakers had never made gluten free bread before, but I was more surprised at the fact that hardly any of them had never made a pitta bread before! At the bottom of the technical was Alvin, followed by Tamal, but at the top in 2nd place was Paul with Nadiya coming first! Hooray!! At last you nailed a technical!!
Going into the final day, I was a little surprised to see that Ian was in danger along with Ugne who finished 6th in the technical. My tip is, forget about what happened on that first day – go into the showstopper and nail it, just don’t dwell as you may as well just leave before you’ve even done the challenge.
The final challenge was to make a dairy free ice cream roll (that’s the classic retro Arctic Roll to you and me). A heady aroma of coconut and tropical fruit fills the tent as Mary prepares herself for 8 coconut flavoured ice creams – Mary doesn’t like coconut!!! I did find it funny when each baker said what they were making with them all saying, “so I’m using coconut milk….”!!
As always, some of the bakers were being daring with their designs and flavour combinations – Paul with his desert island and Ian with his desert island! It seems that Mat didn’t really read the brief properly and decided to make a swiss roll filled with ice cream and raspberry jam, and Flora decided to make a Buche, which sounded delicious but sadly didn’t fit the brief.
The manic 2 minute montage of the bakers madly running around the tent trying to finish their bakes was a little reminiscent of #bingate with ice cream melting and things not quite going to plan for some. I did like the fact that Paul helped Alvin to rescue his bake – although it’s a competition, you still help each other out as you’d like to go through on merit rather than see someone suffer.
All the bakes looked great – and I think all the bakers should be proud of how they did, it wasn’t an easy week and the judges expect higher standards every week. Nearly all of the bakers had good feedback, but sadly I guessed correct that Ugne would be leaving the tent this week – you will be missed!
And the star baker accolade? Well – it was bound to happen one week, Ian lost his crown to a very proud Nadiya. Well done you lovely, keep up the good work!
Next week, it’s pastry week – my favourite food group. Come and bake with me at Seasoned Cookery School, where I teach a great one day pies and puddings course – I can guarantee that you’ll take home 6 cracking pork pies! For more information, click here: http://bit.ly/1JODToa