BLOG: Former Great British Bake Off contestant Kate Henry gives her verdict on free-from week... and she's less than impressed with the pitta breads!
Apparently this August is the wettest since 1946. I don’t think it is actually raining right now… oh no, wait, it is.
It’s free-from week on the Great British Bake Off. Now this could be interesting; it’s a week after my own heart. I’ve been experimenting with sugar-free and gluten-free – even grain-free baking for a few years, and I love the alchemy it requires.
The tent seems empty today after Sandy’s departure. I miss her. Oh, here’s Tamal and his new dashing hair cut. I feel better already! Tonight, in symmetry with the bakers, I am going free-from and am going without my usual gin-soaked treat. So what’s on the menu this week? Sugar free cakes?! Brilliant – this should test them!
But hold on a minute, this isn’t actually sugar-free. They are allowed to use other forms of sugar, and honey, agave, and maple are popping up all over the tent. Given that these all contain sugar, that’s not much of a challenge in my book. I’m in real danger of getting on my high horse here! Hang on, I’ll dismount.
Some of the flavour combinations look good. I like Tamal’s polenta and grapefruit cake but the one I really want to try is Alvin’s Seventies-tastic pineapple and cherry upside-down cake. He, however, is concerned it’s too simple as everyone else appears to be pimping up their cakes to ridiculous heights. I can’t help thinking that this is all getting a bit silly. I need a drink!
There’s a theme this year of melting gooey disastrous cakes in the tent and this week is no exception as I watch Ugne manically scooping up the sides of her creation, which has an oddly purple haze to it. She attempts to cover some of the slop with a bunch of flowers plonked on the side. Well, as long as she stays away from the bin.
Tthe technical challenge is an uninspiring set of gluten-free pittas. Even Paul Hollywood’s look like cardboard. Tamal sums the whole challenge up in one fell swoop: ‘This is rank.’
The bakers spend their time mostly slopping wet sticky dough around their benches. A rather sorry collection of sundried cowpats appear on the gingham judging alter. Nadiya breaks her bad run of technical challenges and comes top, while Alvin comes bottom.
Going into showstopper day, Ugne and Ian are both in a bit of trouble. The challenge is arctic rolls with dairy free ice cream, and Paul Hollywood is ‘expecting to see some magic.’ Everyone is using coconut milk for their ice cream, lots of the bakers are going for tropical flavours, and the cake-pimping theme continues. Paul has taken it to another level altogether by making a bikinied lady boy out of fondant. This is weird. There’s a lot of talk of gussets. Ian is making testicles but has decided to hang them in groups of three ‘for obvious reasons’.
Ugne is scooping again and Tamal’s is cracking up. Alvin’s ice-cream has a lurid radioactive tinge. Ian and Nadiya are doing clever things with piping bags and tubes, but Flora is having a poor week. Her sponge is way too thin, and her dome is more like a pancake. Ugne has gone for ‘slug chic’. The judges like her peanut butter ice-cream but not much else. Mat’s looks surprisingly poor but he gets away with it. Nadiya triumphs – well done Nadiya! Ugne inevitably leaves but I’ve enjoyed having her around.
If you want to see some more low sugar and gluten-free recipes have a look below. Here’s my choccy torte!