'The Great British Bake Off': week five review

The skies were decidedly grim over the tent this week, surely a sign that all was not well on ‘Bake Off’ after the bingate debacle

by Natalie Hammond

If you’ve missed the melodrama of the past few days, here’s the potted version. In the chaos of last week’s showstopper challenge – a towering baked Alaska – it looked like Diana (right) removed Iain’s (left) pudding from the freezer and it promptly turned into a puddle. Iain then went into meltdown mode and tipped his sodden mess in the bin. With nothing to taste, the judges felt they had no choice but to send the hot head packing.


Boy did the public disagree. Overnight, the hashtags #BringIainBack and #justiceforiain were filling up our Twitter feed, both demanding Iain be returned to the tent and skewering Diana for her dastardly act of ‘sabotage’. Sue Perkins bravely waded into the melee with the tweet, ‘Iain’s Alaska was out of the freezer for 40 secs. That’s it. No sabotage. 40 secs of normal temp would NOT be enough to reduce it to liquid’, which seemed to suggest there was a problem with Iain’s ice cream and Diana wasn’t to blame. After being bombarded with complaints, Ofcom even stated that it wouldn’t be investigating the circumstances surrounding bingate.


Unfortunately it then emerged that Diana had quit the ‘Bake Off’ after a fall left her without her sense of taste and smell. Now it’s filmed in advance so it can’t be a result of bingate, but it’s certainly uncanny isn’t it?


Anyway, the bakers seemed subdued by the news and closed ranks for pie and tart week – cue 'ahhh' moments when Nancy borrowed the little blue pencil that lives behind Richard’s ear and Kate helped a panicking Martha ease a tart from its tin.


Which brings us onto this week’s signature challenge – a family-sized custard tart. Perhaps it was the fallout from Diana’s departure, but some of the most consistent bakers struggled. Richard – two-time star baker – made the rooky mistake of filling his pastry case to the brim with custard so it slopped over the sides. Martha showed her age for first time in the competition. Her apricot tart had too much moisture, undercooked pastry and an unconvincing flavour combination. At the end of the day it’s just a cake competition, but Martha’s tears outside the tent (and bingate in the back of our minds) made us wonder whether a 17 year-old is too young to deal with the swings and roundabouts of ‘Bake off’.


The technical challenge was a nasty one this week – Paul’s mini pear pies. Mr Hollywood was looking for was perfectly poached pears wrapped with spirals of rough puff pastry – he got a mixed bag at best. Richard made a hash of things for the second time, wrapping the fruit before it was cool which meant things rapidly went pear-shaped. While his naked pears with their sagging pastry were dire enough to secure last place, Martha’s were golden brown and had bags of flavour earning her first.


If the bakers can handle baked Alaska in 25°C heat, there’s not much more the judges can throw at them. The showstopper certainly tested that theory as the bakers were tasked with making a tiered pie, three layers minimum. After a disappointing tarte au citron in the signature challenge and the ‘simplicity’ label levelled at his bakes, Norman had to pull up his socks. His trio of pies, a mixture of sweet and savoury and using three different pastries, sounded promisingly complicated. But then Sue tasted some of his lavender-flavoured meringue mixture. Now Ms Perkins will scoff most things, but this meringue was clearly not one of them. Paul had a similar expression (horror) on tasting and Mary said it wasn’t a flavour she’d ever come across – or will again, god willing. It was the savoury pies that really got our tummies rumbling. Martha’s ‘Three Little Pigs’ pies sounded glorious, with one chorizo, one pulled pork and sweet potato and one classic. Unfortunately she had a little problem with leakage as fat dripped onto her work station from her bottom layer, which burnt when she put it back in the oven. Kate’s pork, rhubarb, prune and apple pies were a triumph, with crisp hot water crust pastry and excellent flavour and texture to her meaty filling. Richard had problems with the frangipane layer of his pear pie, but his steak and ale filling was a stunner.


Onto the judging and with Diana’s departure, would a baker’s head still be on the chopping block? For her marvellous pork pies and passable pears, Kate was awarded star baker. While Norman’s soapy meringue and hot mess of a lemon tart meant his pie-in-the-sky baking days were sadly over.


While it was business as usual on the surface, last week’s dramatics certainly loomed large. Bingate proved how much the programme has captivated the nation, but in my opinion we need to let the contestants get on with what they do best – and that’s bake.


Some delicious pie recipes you're going to love...


Cherry pie

Sweet pumpkin pie

Chocolate meringue pie

Valencian chicken pie

Goat's cheese and filo pastry pie

Pork pies


And don't forget to check out our cheat's guide to this week's recipes.


Image: BBC/Love Productions/Mark Bourdillon

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