Bake Off's first ever vegan week but whose Showstopper cake came crashing down?

Katie Archer
(Channel 4)
(Channel 4)

It was a landmark week for The Great British Bake Off as the first time the show has ever hosted a vegan episode.

The bakers were banned from using any kind of animal products, casting aside such baking staples as butter, milk and eggs to create their delights.

Veganism may be on-trend right now, but not everyone is informed on the power of plants – Jon admitted: “I had to do, like, internet searches this week on vegetables, because I just don’t know this stuff.”

Hopefully, presenter Noel Fielding’s opening cow rap will have helped him out with some ideas.

The episode also featured the series’ first real disaster, as one baker’s cake was a showstopper for all the wrong reasons when it collapsed under its own weight.

And of course, somebody had to go home – let’s find out who was toppled by vegan week.

The Signature Bake

Vegan week’s opening challenge will have struck fear into the hearts of many a homebaker – shortcrust pastry tartlets with no dairy allowed.

Last week’s Star Baker Briony was enthusiastic about the task ahead, making an early bid for the title again as far as we’re concerned by caramelising her onions with Prosecco.

But Jon, who confessed to eating meat “at every meal” began his appeal for a kebab week in future. His tartlet filling of falafel and hummus is a classic vegan option, but sounded a bit too stodgy for a tartlet.

Noel was continuing his desperate campaign to cheer up Rahul, who declared himself “not positive, more like counting my final days”. We don’t know how he manages to force himself back to the tent each week, it seems so taxing on his emotional state.

Kim-Joy was back on the wonderfully wacky bakes with a squirrel-themed tart in homage to the famous Bake Off star, as Noel said “complete with nuts”.

In a perfect example of something only Noel could get away with, he told Kim-Joy: “You look like you might know your way around a vegan restaurant. You’re not vegan, are you, but you just have that air about you.”

Jon looked like the disaster of the week at this stage, lagging behind on time, running out of filling, and bunging a dropped tart back in the oven from the floor.

Judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith were impressed with Manon’s subtle flavours, but thought that Ruby’s tarts were a little tasteless.

You could almost hear the cheers from living rooms around the land as Prue called Rahul’s chickpea curry tartlets “poetry”, but his understated reactions are getting a bit much for the other bakers who egged him on to “do a dance, or something”.

Briony and Jon were bottom of the pile with pastry that didn’t quite work, but Kim-Joy was triumphant, even earning a Hollywood Handshake for her tofu quiches.

Noel still couldn’t get the idea out of his head that she was actually vegan, though.

Who won the Technical Challenge?

Next up was a vegan tropical pavlova, and Rahul’s cringing as he uncovered a set of ingredients that he couldn’t even bring himself to look at summed up everyone’s feelings.

The bakers had to use aquafaba to make their meringues, a preserved liquid from cooked chickpeas. Yum.

Vegan meringues had us marveling at the fact that someone had thought of being able to substitute chickpea liquid for egg whites, and the contestants couldn’t get over it, either – as Jon said whilst piping his meringue, “it doesn’t look much like bean juice”.

Kim-Joy seemed to have lost all confidence after her Hollywood Handshake, starting again after she felt her meringue whisking had gone wrong and complaining that she couldn’t do technicals. Nonsense, Kim-Joy!

There were tense scenes as everyone’s meringues began to crumble and dissolve, but it was Kim-Joy who had the dishonour of last place.

Rahul stormed into the lead though with his first-ever technical win, setting the stage for what looked certain to be another Star Baker week.

The Showstoppers

Steel yourselves, this is the moment we’ve been waiting for since the teaser at the end of last week’s episode.

We knew that someone’s cake collapsed quite disastrously at the end of the challenge, but weren’t sure whose, and spent most of the task trying to guess from their descriptions.

Most of the contestants would have been pleased to reach the final challenge of vegan week, although they had the mammoth task of creating a party centrepiece cake that would rise without eggs.

Substitute ingredients included oil, vegan margarine, and coconut in various forms as everyone started to look a little panicky about how it would turn out.

Kim-Joy’s cake was fox themed in honour of a friend’s spirit animal, whilst Jon went for an “Only Fools Eat Horses” leopard-skin patterned cake inspired by his favourite TV show.

Sandi Toksvig became the latest in a long line of people to try and fail to engage Rahul in some banter, but he struggles so much to keep a lid on his emotions that asking anything else of him is frankly too much.

Oh no, Ruby! She was the unlucky baker whose cake came crashing down, and Noel had the terrible job of having to tell her what had happened.

She was far from the only baker suffering a wonky cake, but despite help from most of the tent in trying to prop it up, hers was the only one to actually take a tumble.

Briony’s hazlenut, raspberry and mocha cake was a hit, and although Jon’s chocolate orange creation looked terrible it apparently tasted great.

Manon had the opposite problem to Jon, with a perfect-looking cake that drew disgusted faces from Paul and Prue as they tasted it. There goes Star Baker, Manon.

Tonight, we reached peak Kim-Joy with her fox cake that came complete with fox biscuits and some unusual flavours including a lavender sponge.

Rahul suffered an uncharacteristic disaster not quite so dramatic as Ruby’s when his cake wouldn’t stay standing, although he did manage to still serve it as separate tiers.

However, his cake apparently didn’t taste as good as Ruby’s, leaving us with a tense wait for tonight’s result.

Who went out?

It was sadly Jon’s time to go, something that he seemed to have been expecting right from the moment vegan week began.

A self-confessed meat lover, vegan bakes were never going to be Jon’s thing, but it did feel a bit like he just stopped trying in anticipation of going home.

We’re delighted to see that next week’s episode features the remaining five bakers wearing Hawaiian shirts in tribute to him, though.

Who won Star Baker?

Kim-Joy pulled it back round from a disastrous technical to get Star Baker.

It was so well deserved for her other two rounds, the tasty quiches from the Signature Bake and her glorious fox-themed Showstopper.

Bravo, Kim-Joy – and just to clear it up once and for all, she’s NOT VEGAN.

Tonight’s highlight

Again, it was more of a lowlight than a highlight but the episode’s most memorable moment was, unfortunately for Ruby, her cake’s collapse.

It was one of the more dramatic disasters we’ve seen on Bake Off, although not quite up there with Baked Alaska-gate when there wasn’t even anything left to taste.

On a side note, Noel’s made it pretty clear that Ruby is his favourite baker, but their new status as BFFs is getting more obvious by the day – Noel looked ready to thump Paul in the judges’ tent when he said that Ruby’s cake falling over was her own fault.

It goes without saying that the bakers will be glad to see the back of vegan week, and looking forward to bringing the butter back next time.

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