'Great British Bake Off' Spice Week: Two evictions and too many handshakes?

Michael Moran
It’s been a while since Karen’s had a good week in the tent.

It’s a crunch week in Bake Off this week.

Well, actually it’s Spice Week, but it’s also a crunch week. Two bakers needed to be eliminated in order to keep the series on schedule after Terry’s unavoidable absence in Week 4.

And just about everyone’s had their hair done, so it’d be a shame to have to go home now…

But tonight, with some of the trickiest challenges we’ve ever seen in Bake Off, anyone could find themselves leaving the tent. And, at the same time, anyone could receive a Hollywood Handshake.

There’s a growing feeling that there might be just too many Hollywood Handshakes now.

But before we could find out who went home, we had to witness some of Bake Off’s most brutal challenges ever. What even is a ma’amoul?

Spice week: mainly scary

Ginger cake sounds like one of those things that anyone could make. It really isn’t.

First up, ginger cake. The only Spice Week bake to be named after a specific Spice Girl. Here, Paul was looking for a balance of heat and…uhm…warmth apparently.

A ginger cake is a deceptively treacherous bake. Dan discovered to this to his cost when his mixture spontaneously generated cheesy balls and he had to start again.

A couple of the bakers went with a slightly premature bonfire night theme. For Rahul, it paid off. For Karen, who was maybe trying too hard to please by adding a life-threatening quantity of booze to the mix, it really didn’t.

There was a lot of concern that the ginger cakes might turn out ‘claggy.’ That proved divisive among the viewers, as fully 48% of us had never heard the word before.

Dan took a minute out from his showstopper to invent the Macarena

The bakers played true to type. Kim-Joy had yet another surreal take on a classic ginger cake, and Jon was quietly confident enough to stop for a tea break. Ruby seemed a little tense, but then she deserved a free pass on this round given that Noel visibly fingered her sponge.

Ginger cake is a very idiosyncratically British idea, so you might think Rahul and Manon might be at something of a cultural disadvantage but they were both on the end of a Hollywood Handshake for their spicy sponge sensations.

The third ginger handshake went to sponge-based surrealist Kim-Joy. Everyone who did well on the ginger cake round would have felt doubly happy once they heard about the next change, because it was an absolute frightener.

Is this too many handshakes now? A lot of viewers seem to think so…

Let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel

None of the bakers had heard of a ma’amoul. Even Prue was quietly saying “a mammal?” to herself in wonderment.

A ma’amoul is, as of course you know, a traditional Middle Eastern pastry treat made with dates, nuts and figs.

Paul gave the bakers a somewhat sketchy recipe, some cool-looking little tongs, and a cheery goodbye.

It’s fair to say that everybody struggled with this challenge, even the intimidatingly brilliant Rahul. To her great surprise, Ruby triumphed. It’s unlikely that she, or indeed any of the bakers, will attempt a ma’amoul ever again.

In which we finally see everyone’s dangly biscuits

What have I made?

For the third segment of the show, Prue was missing. Was she afflicted with whatever took Terry out of the game last week? Or was she laid low by a bad ma’amoul? We may never know…

Paul was confident that he could handle things solo though. And why not? He’s a man of the world. He’s travelled the world. As the twinkly-eyed titan of the tea-cake put it himself: “I’ve seen the Colosseum…in a biscuit.”

So yes. Now we’re all making biscuit chandeliers.

Will we ever find out who poisoned Prue?

Dan stuck his head above the parapet and pointed out that it was a ridiculous challenge. And he was right. But it was a foolhardy move saying it out loud. Paul gave him a very hard stare with those sapphire eyes, and made a mental note for later.

Dan’s point was that there were no biscuit chandeliers to be found on the Internet. That’s not quite true. We checked. There’s one. And it’s made of Jammy Dodgers.

The bakers, in the main, rose to the challenge. There was some exquisite biscuit sculpture on show.

Rahul’s 150-piece epic was astounding, as we have come to expect, but probably the prettiest biscuit chandelier on the day – and therefore now the prettiest biscuit chandelier on the whole Internet – was Kim-Joy’s Christmas-themed confection which was almost too beautiful to eat.

Not every baker was so successful. Poor Terry’s moustache visibly wilted when Paul eyed his somewhat over-ambitious creation and asked “Did you actually finish it?”

Paul had the unenviable task of sending two bakers home this week. And the choices were fairly obvious…

Star baker had to be Rahul though. He was brilliant, he was adorable, he won the hearts of a nation:

But – TWIST – it wasn’t Rahul. It was Kim-Joy, who clinched it with that killer chandelier.

If Rahul doesn’t win the series though, we may well be looking at widespread civil unrest. But if Paul doesn’t calm down with the handshakes, it might be worse than that…

Great British Bake Off continues on Channel 4, every Tuesday at 8pm.