The Great British Bake-Off roundup: thyme is of the essence in Botanicals Week

Tasha in the Great British Bake Off Week 6 (Channel 4)
Tasha in the Great British Bake Off Week 6 (Channel 4)

Bake Off has had its fair share of bizarre themed weeks over the years – Mexican week, Japan week – but have they ever been quite as abstract as Botanicals week?

For that is the theme of the latest episode – and the bakers seem equally in the dark. “I had to ask Lara what botanicals was and then google it, but…” Matty says, while Paul helpfully explains it’s all about “spice, herbs, and lots of floral hints.”

Regardless of how much they know, the bakers were tasked with making spiced buns, a lemon and thyme drizzle cake, and a floral dessert this week; read on for our recap of the highlights.

Best quote

Matty takes the crown with his offhand comment during the Signature bake. “I’m making a spiced hot cross bun," he tells the camera. "I done them in practice, but they weren’t very good, but I was trying to get them done before the West Ham game.” It’s fine – with the amount of rum he’s putting into them, Prue will be very happy.

Most wholesome moment

Dana and Alison messing around as the bakers wait for their rolls to prove provides a lovely little moment: Dana manages to throw a pistachio into Alison’s open mouth and as the pair celebrate, the others look on in bemusement. A few minutes later, she’s giving Saku a hug as her buns bake in the oven. “Lean on these buns,” she says. We love Alison Hammond.

Matty in the Great British Bake Off Week 6 (Channel 4)
Matty in the Great British Bake Off Week 6 (Channel 4)

Most stressful moment

Things don’t start going really wrong until the Showstopper: Dan drops one of his sponge layers onto the floor, breaking it completely, and Tasha does the same with her elaborate elderflower-themed sponge.

“I love making things twice,” Dan exclaims, as he gets to work on his second cake. Tasha’s one step ahead of him though – as she explains, that was her back-up one. Phew.

But the most stressful moment comes towards the end, as the bakers race to finish their cakes: Cristy’s white chocolate cake breaks as it comes out of the mould, prompting her to break down in tears while Alison and Noel flap around her. At the end of the challenge, everybody comes in to hug her and the cake has been (more or less) salvaged.

“I’ve seen people throw stuff in the bin before,” Paul says: a callback to the infamous Baked Alaska-gate. But Cristy hasn’t and she lives to bake another day.

Biggest oopsie

Noel, messing around with a pair of lemons, first asks Saku if she can do keepie-uppies with a lemon (she promptly knees it across the tent) then attempts to hit one of the pans on the Bake-Off tent shelves.

Cue some bleeped-out swearing as he smashes a glass all over the floor instead. “Never a dull moment in here,” Dan says from the corner, as Saku cowers behind her workbench. Indeed.

Weirdest flavour combinations

Given the extremely vague theme, there are interesting favour combos galore this week. Tasha’s grey mulled wine and egg mix during the Signature is met with horror from Alison. “That’s absolutely vile, babes,” she tells Tasha. It's going into her Christmas spiced buns – which Paul then calls “quite a dangerous thing to do.” “Thank you,” Tasha replies, and indeed the buns are lovely.

However, while most of the bakers stick to tried and tested themes like hibiscus, elderflower and rhubarb, Dan leads the charge by putting dandelion and meadowsweet in his multi-tiered, wildflower-themed bake. “It’s recognisable, like cat pee,” Paul says after getting a whiff of his meadowsweet extract. Yummy.

International bake of the week

Saku’s declaration that she’s making Swedish cinnamon buns prompts confusion from Prue, who says she’s used to Saku “bringing Sri Lanka into this.” But she is, Saku protests: the cinnamon and cardamom will both come from her home country.

“This is an international affair. Swedish buns with Sri Lankan cinnamon and cardamom,” she explains. Fusion cooking.

Noel, Paul and Prue in the Great British Bake Off Week 6 (Channel 4)
Noel, Paul and Prue in the Great British Bake Off Week 6 (Channel 4)

Soggy bottoms

Alison continues to maintain the smut level of the tent, kicking things off in the Signature bake: spiced buns, or bottys.

“This is a chance for you to get your bottys out and show us what you can do,” Alison proclaims, flanked by a grinning Noel and a stony-faced Paul and Prue, before telling the bakers they have two hours before Paul “sees your buns.”

“Paul already checked mine out this morning,” Noel quips. Naturally, bun puns ensue, culminating with Noel telling the bakers that they have “ten minutes to get your buns out of the oven.”

Shots for Prue

Matty is the main culprit this week: the hot cross buns he’s making for the Signature feature not only spices, but dried fruits he’s soaked in ginger rum. “You need to show the nation what a really good hot cross bun can be,” Prue says upon hearing this: clearly, she’s a fan.

“I don’t even like hot cross buns,” Matty says afterwards. And it shows: the finished buns are met with a lukewarm response by the judges for not having enough fruit. Maybe what they really mean is rum.

Best looking bake

The Showstopper is really where the bakers shine. Dan’s unusual looking layered football-field style wildflower meadow is praised for being rustic, but Josh really goes all-out by creating a Charlotte Russe with homemade ladyfingers and a rather lovely jelly flower on top. “It’s beautiful,” Prue says – but our vote might just go to Dana for creating a sugar-pane box with pressed flowers in which to hold her rose, raspberry and hibiscus cake.

Dana in the Great British Bake Off Week 6 (Channel 4)
Dana in the Great British Bake Off Week 6 (Channel 4)

Hollywood handshakes

Thin on the ground this week: no meaty digits proffered to any bakers.

Star Baker

Cristy nabs first place in the Technical and praise from both Paul and Prue for her spiced buns. “I genuinely never thought I’d get first in a technical,” she says after, “So yeah, yay for me!” However, her literal meltdown in the Showstopper scuppers her chances and it’s the slow-but-steady Josh who ends up being anointed Star Baker for his rhubarb, raspberry and hibiscus dessert. Can anybody say dark horse?

Who went home?

Despite pulling a gorgeous-looking Showstopper out of the bag, it’s Dana who ends up going home for making a bland, frozen sponge in her Showstopper and underperforming in her other challenges. “I never thought I would get to Week 6!” she tells the camera afterwards. “If I could time rewind and do it all again I definitely would."

The Great British Bake-Off airs on Channel 4 on Tuesdays at 8pm