My Thoughts on Free From Week

5 weeks in and one thing was on everyone’s lips. No it wasn’t those gluten-free pittas, it was Ian. Could anyone take Ian’s Star Baker crown away from him? And more importantly what the hell is psyllium?!

Before we start going into detail, can I just say I love the contestants on the show, they’re all so talented but I was very very bored this episode. Don’t know why but I really lost interest, maybe because it’s Free-From Week and I’m not the biggest fan of all this free-from malarkey, maybe it’s the editing, who knows? It’s definitely not the contestants being boring because Paul making his fondant sunbather was the best moment. Except Sandy of course. We miss Sandy.


I recently wrote a debate about going gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free and you can find them by clicking on the links below:

The Signature Challenge was Sugar-Free Cakes and the bakers were allowed to use any refined sugar substitute such as honey, agave nectar or use the natural sugar in fruit. There was outrage on Twitter at the use of agave nectar since it is a close relative of refined white sugar and also the fact that they were making cakes that were sugar-free. Without sugar. What’s the point? Well the point is that you get a brilliant Pineapple Upside Down Cake from Alvin and an amazing Sugar-Free Carrot Cake from Mat! But then you also get Ugne’s Chocolate Hazelnut Chequerboard Cake featuring quinoa flour which broke in the fridge and the cream cheese frosting, the choice of many of the bakers, spilled out! As soon as I saw it, I couldn’t stop thinking of Dorret’s Black Forest Gateau.

Alvin SignatureUgne SignatureIMG_1853

Yeah that! And when Mary heard Ugne’s bake, we got this face:

Mary Quinoa Flour

The Technical Challenge was Gluten-Free Pittas and contained that wonderfully strange and smelly ingredient, psyllium. I looked it up (as I’m sure another 10 million people did) and psyllium is a fibre made from the husk of the plantago ovata plant and is a laxative. Apparently it helps to create a bread-like texture, although I think using xanthan gum would have sufficed. Alvin went from the high of his Signature to the last place of the Technical and Nadiya, after a run of near-bottom finishes, managed to beat them all, coming first! I guess it looks like she was able to com-pitta with Ian. Let’s move on.

The Showstopper Challenge was to make a Dairy-Free Ice Cream Roll and the bakers all had to use a lactose-free substitute. Rather strangely, coconut milk played a prominent part in many of the bakers’ ice cream instead of soy and almond milk, which I expected to appear. Even so the bakers didn’t have such a problem making their ice cream compared to last year and we had some absolutely stunning moments. I particularly liked Alvin’s flavour combination with the mango, passion fruit and the pandan and Tamal’s use of Italian meringue on his Passion Fruit and Pineapple Ice Cream Roll. The highlight of the showstopper has to be Paul making his fondant sunbather with a gusset. But that didn’t stop Paul having a great decoration on the outside of his sponge.

Alvin Pandan Tamal Showstopper Paul ShowstopperPaul Sugarcraft

But our Star Baker this week and Nadiya finally managed to take Ian’s crown! And it’s fairly unsurprising when you see that Nadiya made 6 Ice Cream Rolls in total!

Nadiya Signature Nadiya Face

Yeah that’s how shocked Nadiya is!

Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to Ugne and after a few good consistent weeks, she fell foul to just trying to do too much. And it’s quite strange how similar her Signature and Showstopper ended up looking! I will definitely miss Ugne, she brought powerful flavours to the tent as well as a bit of muscle.

Ugne Showstopper

Next week is Pastry Week and the Signature is a Frangipane Tart, Technical Flaounes which is a Cypriot cheese pastry that Paul has made on a TV show before, and Showstopping Vol-Au-Vents; the retro 70s theme has returned from Week 1!

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