Cakes without sugar, bread without gluten and ice-cream without dairy. Alternative Ingredients week on The Great British Bake Off
Imagine making a cake and realising you had no sugar, baking bread without gluten or making ice-cream without dairy. Would you panic? No. You would sensibly walk to the shop, buy ingredients and return to your kitchen. This week was for Alternative Ingredients meaning making do without those kitchen essentials. Good luck.
There are several ways of introducing sweetness into a cake yet most are not as direct as Tamal’s as he injected a syrup of grapefruit juice into a Polenta Cake, somehow the cake was deemed delicate. Ian’s Honey and Flowers Cake was divine in appearance but judged as not sweet enough, not a good start for the reigning Star Baker. Looking smug instead was Paul, whose agave nectar sweetened Carrot and Pecan Cake had great flavour and exceptional cream cheese icing. Even Mat pulled off his Carrot Cake which, despite looking so dense as to appear unbaked, surprised Paul Hollywood by how much he liked it. Rare praise indeed.
Flora’s Pistachio, Apple and Cardamom Madeleine Cake looked fit for a rustic wedding yet came out stodgy. Showing some ingenuity was Nadiya who used blooming basil seeds for jam-like texture in her Blueberry and Caraway Crunch Bake and was commended for her daring flavours. With half an hour to go Alvin could be found cleaning his work bench as his Pineapple Upside-down Cake lacked any real decoration. Luckily for him it had ‘perfect sweetness’ even though it looked like he’d gotten away with it. Then there was Ugne who went all out and baked her Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake with agave nectar yet without a gluten-based flour. Mary Berry took on the voice of reason and speculated this was why hers collapsed, a worrying sign of things to come.
The technical challenge was, as ever, truly, stupefyingly, ridiculously difficult; baking a batch of 12 identical pita breads with gluten-free flour. Anyone that has ever baked gluten-free should know what a joyless experience it is. A loose, wet dough/sticky paste which you struggle to work as it has no gluten yet Tamal spent so long he almost ran out of baking time. Baking pita breads is difficult enough yet Alvin needed to work out what one looked like first, yet he finished last as his were under-baked and too thick. From having one of the worst records in the technical challenges, Nadiya finally won one.
To crown this woebegone week was the 80’s classic, Ice-Cream Roll, only without any dairy. There really was no cheer here at all but that did not stop some contestants from making their showstoppers look truly silly. Top of the bill was Paul and Ian’s Desert Island-off. Ian’s had knockout flavour according to Mary yet his island looked like it had been prepared earlier on Blue Peter. With a vividly bright and cartoonish sponge design, Paul’s Mango, Lime and Coconut Roll impressed and even included a bikini-clad fondant sunbather.
As we should know by now, Alvin loves incorporating some flavours from back home. This week it was Buko Pandan which came in the form of a green vanilla-esque essence and gave his Mango and Passion Fruit Ice-Cream a brilliant colour. Despite a cracked sponge, Tamal’s Passion Fruit and Pineapple Roll still managed ‘stunning’ and ‘beautiful’ superlatives, the boy really can do no wrong. Alas, Mat’s form tends to go from one extreme to the other and his simple Coconut and Raspberry Swiss Roll had most of the ice-cream squeezed out. Meanwhile, Flora struggled to keep her ice-cream in as her Pear, Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Bûche lacked sponge.
Ugne suffered another collapse as her Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Grape Roll fell apart. Many Americans cannot be wrong as the flavours seemed to work well yet her hopes were as flat as her roll and she was sent home. Nadiya had gone from strength to strength and her henna inspired sponge with a strawberry and lime mousse surrounded by chocolate ice-cream was stunning, innovative and rightly meant she was awarded Star Baker.
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