The remaining bakers are tasked with creating recipes without some kitchen staples, to mixed results.
It’s quarterfinals week on The Great British Baking Show. It’s also themed “Free From Week,” meaning there will be challenges where the bakers must be free from either dairy, meat, or gluten. If that’s not enough to scare you, there’s Paul Hollywood as the Hulk in the cold open! Bakers are feeling the heat – which will survive, and which baker will be freed from the tent?
Their first challenge is the signature: the bakers have 3 hours to make 8 identical dairy-free ice cream sandwiches. There are a lot of nut and oat milk mixes being tossed into ice cream machines in the tent. As it’s dairy-free milk, the ice crystals will change once frozen, thus producing much firmer ice cream. Adding to the pressure is that the bakers’ biscuits also have to be dairy-free – meaning no butter or eggs, some of the traditional elements of a nice biscuit.
While this would have been the week for former contestant Freya to shine, most of the remaining bakers are a bit inexperienced in the vegan baking situation. Heavy hitter Jürgen admits he’s a fan of dairy ice cream, even detailing his past hobby of testing ice cream parlors in Germany (Netflix, I smell a spin-off series here!). He’s also the baker feeling the most pressure, and whose macarons fall flat, looking a bit less like classic Jürgen treats.
It’s judging time for their vegan treats. Lizzie’s dark chocolate biscuits lost definition and lack that finesse that Paul and Prue keep harping on her about. Chigs’s tropical ice cream sandwiches look professional and neat, but his ice cream needs more mango flavor. Jürgen’s pistachio macarons may have fallen flat, but Prue thinks they’re clever and could be a new invention for ice cream sandwiches. Crystelle’s tahini and miso frappucino flavored sandwiches look nice and uniform, but Paul and Prue are split on her wet ice cream – Prue dislikes, but Paul seems keen on the filling. Giuseppe’s orange and ginger sandwiches look nice and consistent, but the ice cream isn’t as creamy as Prue hoped, but Paul’s a fan of the contrasting flavors.
Next up is the technical challenge, set by Prue: 8 identical vegan sausage rolls. They’re looking for a crisp vegan puff pastry stuffed with a meatless “sausage” filling, accompanied by a red onion chutney. This bake will test the contestants’ savory cooking skills, as they have to cook up the vegan filling with walnuts, mushrooms, lentils, and other spices. The bakes also have the challenge of the puff pastry, using vegan block, a solidified block of almond, coconut, and rapeseed oils. They’ll have to shred the block and laminate the dough to get the shiny gloss that puff pastry is known for. In the words of Paul, “This is a very challenging challenge.”
The challenge seems like a standard Great British Baking Show technical. The bakers may not be familiar with vegan block, but all seem fine with the lamination. However, they start to crumble when they have to form their pastry around the sausage mixture. Just when you think all is fine, Jürgen drops his rolls on the ground! The other bakers are polite, looking out of the corner of their eyes towards Jürgs. The five-second rule is international, as Jürgen puts the rolls back on the tray to finish cooking, then tells the camera “You didn’t see it.” Wow, our man Jürgen is ruthless, risking floor contamination to win The Great British Baking Show.
The technical judging is going to be hard, as Prue says the rolls are “A bit of a mixed bag.” Overall, the lamination was there, just a couple of overbaked rolls (Lizzie), spicy chutney (Crystelle), and some dry filling (Jürgen). The rankings are as follows: Crystelle (5), Jürgen (4), Lizzie (3), Giuseppe (2), and Chigs (1). Crystelle feels worried, knowing she’ll have to really hit it strong in the showstopper round. Chigs is shocked but happy to be back at the top in the technical round.
The bakers’ assignment for this week’s showstopper is a spectacular gluten-free celebratory cake. With the omission of gluten, most bakers are adding xanthum gum to their batter to help bind their rice/almond/other gluten-free flours together. The bakers do seem relieved they can use dairy and eggs in this challenge, as most are whipping up decadent, creamy frosting to top their cakes.
While most of the bakers opt for two tiers, Jürgen’s cake can’t be contained in two tiers. He goes in for a three-tier cake composed of three different chocolate sponges (white, milk, and dark chocolate). One might wonder if Jürgen has bitten off more than he can chew, as he’s baking enough cake to feed 80 people. However, all the bakers, including Jürgen, assemble their spectacular cakes in time.
It’s showstopper judging time. Crystelle’s cake, inspired by a bodice dress worn by her grandma, is great-looking and has a beautiful coconut and jaggery creme pat with rice flour sponges. Giuseppe’s black forest cake is underwhelming on looks (Paul thinks the top tier looks awkward) and taste (Prue thinks the texture is gluey). Chigs’s red velvet cake (or as Paul calls it “bad boy”) looks great, and both Paul and Prue can’t find any faults in it. Jürgen’s three-tiered triple chocolate cake looks beautiful, and the addition of apricot and whiskey-soaked sponges is a nice touch. Last up is Lizzie’s SEN (short for “special education needs”) inspired cake is a celebration of her unique brain and her own experiences with dyslexia and other special education needs, and it hits all the marks on decor and flavor.
Everyone had a good showstopper this week in The Great British Baking Show. Prue and Paul have their work cut out for them. As its quarterfinals, it may come down to bakes in previous weeks. The judges return to the tent to announce Star Baker. This week, it’s Chigs who gets that honor. He had some great bakes in all of the challenges, especially in the technical, where he came out on top. Sadly, the departing baker this week is Lizzie. She’s really proud of making it to the quarterfinal and is excited to spend more time with Prue, her pet dog at home. While it’s sad to see her go, Lizzie created a heartwarming, unique showstopper that represented her to the fullest, and I think it’s a moment many viewers will remember.
Predictions and Other Thoughts
- Still predicting that the final three bakers will be Chigs, Jürgen, and Giuseppe. We’re at the stage where Paul and Prue will start cutting bakers for previous bakes, and Crystelle hasn’t had as many strong bakes as the other three.
- I’m still holding strong that Jürgen will come out as the winner this season of The Great British Baking Show. I mean, our man combined whiskey and apricot into a syrup for his chocolate sponges! I was doubtful it would work, but Paul and Prue loved it!
- Cringe factor of the cold open: Paul as Hulk should have been bad, but it still wasn’t the worst one of the season. I’m giving it a four out of ten. For clarification, a ten would be episode 6’s “shoe/choux” cake. An eleven would be this season’s “achy breaky tart” musical.