This week Bake Off has gone all alternative. Well it still came on at 8pm, on BBC1, and the theme music hadn’t been replaced with The Age of Aquarius, so I await new avant garde developments in the tent. Hmm, it all looks the same – Mary appears composed in her vibrant pastel, Paul bristles in his provocatively unbuttoned shirt.
It turns out this is ‘alternative ingredients’ week. Yes, it’s back – the week that nobody really knows what to call. First introduced in the quarter final of series 4 (I’m still smarting at getting kicked out before then), this is the episode that aims to show you can take something out without missing it. If only you could say the same about the tent now that Sandy’s gone.
The signature challenge is a ‘sugar-free’ cake, by which the producers mean a cake without sugar from a bag - which is not the same thing in my book. (Incidentally, my book’s out next week, rrp £16.99).
Several bakers sweeten with honey, while others go for agave nectar. Nadiya is championing the alternative by using mulberry molasses. She’s also making a blueberry jam thickened with basil seeds. The unconventional has been unconditionally unleashed.
Ugne is also going off-piste with a cake that’s gluten-free too. She mentions quinoa flour. Mary looks like she may not sleep tonight. Ugne is aiming for a harlequin pattern. It’s ambitious, but I like that. Sadly, she doesn’t quite pull it off and takes refuge in the fridge trying to rescue her molten creation. She describes it as ‘One ugly cake’.