The Great British Bake Off: 9.07 Vegan Week
It was the first ever vegan week and it certainly proved to be a challenge for the bakers. No eggs, milk, butter or honey. How would they cope? Of course any tension was surely dispelled by the antics of Noel and Sandy; whether it was observing Prue and Paul (supposedly) in a horse costume, or playing croquet, they ensured The Great British Bake Off continued to entertain. Because there certainly was tension as the collapsing cake in the upcoming sequence teased.
The signature challenge was eight savoury tartlets and the bakers were forced to use alternative means - coconut oil, vegetable oil, vegan margarine, avocado oil to make their pastry. And there was still the risk of a soggy bottom. Truth be told, it was rubbery pastry that proved to be the downfall of some. Briony elected to do French onion and celeriac and apple tartlets. French onion tasted good but the pastry was overworked and was...yes...quite rubbery.
Also making rubbery pastry was Jon, who began a disastrous vegan week by running 15 minutes late on his garlic mushroom, falafel and hummus tartlets. But then again, this wasn't exactly his forte (yes I'm sure kebab week is coming Jon) and even Noel's claims to be a Time Lord and reverse time (side note: he'd make a terrific Doctor) were not enough to avert disaster. He had the tiniest fillings ever, the pastry wasn't cooked and even when the mess was presented, the taste of the fillings weren't great. It's a shame, because Jon has been rather good so far this series.
As for the rest of the bakers, Manon went for summer (aubergine and courgette)and winter (Mushroom and chestnut) tarts. They were well baked and attractive, the flavours mild and delicious, with coconut in pastry being a highlight. Rahul also did well as he used Bengali food items to make coriander posto and veg and ghuni chat tartlets. He made good pastry and flavours but there was too much filling on the posto and veg. His chat tarts were poetry to Prue however. It wasn't enough for him to look happy, despite everyone encouraging him to do a dance. Ruby was less successful; her sage and butternut, greens and vegan cheese looked consistent and identical but were tasteless overall. Finally Kim Joy turned to tofu for broccoli and tomato, vegan mascarpone squirrel tarlets complete with nuts? Making a squirrel out of vegan marscarpone? That could only be Kim Joy but the real surprise was that she was scared of animals. But what about the kittens? In the end her tartlets were very neat and artistic, her coconut pastry was amazing and the flavours were delicious, gaining her the only handshake of the round.
The vegan technical was set by Prue, a vegan tropical fruit Pavlova. Jon admitted he was completely out of his comfort zone as he'd never made a normal Pavlova before. The trick was aqua fava, a preserved liquid of chickpeas to make the meringues. The meringues were much more delicate, causing many to question how long to bake and when they were made, you could see them dissolve in their hands but they all looked fairly decent in the end. Kim Joy's was flat and broken while Rahul's was better, looking quite indulgent. Jon's was cracked again but his cream tasted good. Briony's two sized meringue world while there was great definition in Ruby's. Manon's looked impressive and tasted good. Kim Joy was sixth, Briony fifth, Ruby fourth, Jon third. Manon was second and Rahul - the star of the show - came first.
For the showstopper, the bakers were tasked Vegan celebration cake. I was intrigued to see how they would manage. I've got a vegan friend that has made some amazing cup cakes - chocolate and raspberry or tequila to name a few - proving that you don't need butter and eggs to make a great cake. It often helps though.
Briony made a cake for her brother a hazelnut mocha cake with raspberry jam. She certainly did well. It looked neat and well decorated with three perfect layers. The raspberry lifted everything and the judges complemented her on a very nice cake. Jon meanwhile went for an 'Only Fools Eat Horses' cake of chocolate and orange, inspired by the classic British sitcom. The result however looked very sad, the decoration was crude and Paul said it all when he commented on the leopard print looking like Bette Lynch's skirt, contributing to an overall hideous look. The flavour was good though. On the flip side, Manon made a beautiful looking three tiered spiced apple cake that tasted absolutely awful.
Kim Joy meanwhile was at peak Kim Joy-ness with a foxed themed lavender and lemon two tired cake. It looked amazing, the Fox biscuits were a great extra touch too. And it proved to be a winner on the taste side too, the lavender in the sponge was powerful but balanced well with lemon. Rahul meanwhile gave a touching tribute to his grandmother who never ate a cake after his grandfather's death, so his chocolate and coconut layer cake with raspberry jam was a tribute to her. Unfortunately the construction failed and it fell apart, the coconut drizzle weakening the whole cake. The coconut taste was overpowering too but the chocolate was good.
And then there was Ruby. Her cake was also a tribute to a grandparent and ice creams together; a chocolate, lemon and coconut three tier cake. You could feel the tension when it started to break when icing and the first layer soon looked wonky, Ruby requiring desperate assistance from her fellow bakers to assemble. But when we followed the bakers outside for the first time EVER, you knew disaster was about to strike and the collapsing cake teased since last week finally happened. She tried to put on a brave face as she presented the disaster. Fortunately all the lemon, coconut and chocolate cakes were delicious though.
After all was done, Paul was disappointed with several bakers and it seemed unclear who might go. Taste seemed to win over construction; Briony and Kim Joy had saved themselves in the final challenge, with Ruby and Jon in danger. Kim Joy took star baker for the second time and Ruby let out a sigh of relief as Jon went home. He had been a decent baker but this week he definitely deserved to go.
Omar will be back to finish his reviews of the final three episodes, starting with next week's quarter final 'Danish week.' Sandy will be happy.