The Great British Bake Off: Vegan
October 10, 2018 10:56 AM - Season 9, Episode 7 - Subscribe

A first for GBBO: Vegan week! No butter, no eggs, no milk, not even any honey. The six remaining bakers have to start with savoury vegan tartlets, then make a pavlova using aquafaba rather than egg whites for the meringue, and finally produce an impressive celebratory cake using only vegan ingredients.

Once again, we see that it's better to mix triumph with disaster than it is to be consistently adequate. Jon had a bad start, a low-to-middling technical challenge (he very precisely noted that 4th of 6 put him in the bottom half of the middle) and his cake, whilst not suffering the structural disasters experienced by Ruby and Rahul, just paled beside Briony and Kim-Joy's efforts.

Briony really has engaged turbo mode, hasn't she? Her cake looked amazing - I've seen worse in major cake-decorating competitions where people have weeks to prepare - and even her 6th place in the technical challenge was because her faux-pavlova was merely adequate rather than good.

Early on in the show I was worried that Ruby had surprisingly poor time management for a project manager. She seems to have got over that, but given that she apparently works in construction projects I'd have hoped her structural engineering would have been a bit better! Internal supports are often necessary for cakes even before you start baking ones that - as with vegan recipes - may be a bit less robust. It was heartbreaking to see her cake collapse; I'm not surprised there was a lot of bleeped-out swearing.

Kim-Joy continues to navigate the fine line between delightfully geeky and appallingly twee. I wonder if we should have a sweepstake on which cute woodland animals will feature next? Meanwhile Mahon keeps on posing the interesting question for the judges of how you score a cake that looks amazing but is inedible, and thus arguably fails its main purpose. As for Rahul, the recipe for his Ghugni Chat tartlet is online, and I may well have to try this!
posted by Major Clanger (14 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Been meaning to do an aquafaba lemon meringue pie for years, but never quite got all the ingredients together at the same time, so I'm loving this week's pavlova technical. See if I can learn from others mistakes...
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 6:34 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Lots of structural problems with this week’s showstopper cakes. I thought for sure Ruby was out and I was sad to see Jon go. The words they had for Manon’s cake were ridiculously harsh. Rahul was not as scrunch-faced annoying this time.

These “first-ever” (vegan, Danish) weeks are interesting!
posted by migurski at 8:05 PM on October 10 [2 favorites]


Ruby's showstopper and the effort her fellow bakers put into helping her with it is sort of what I love about this show, deep down at its roots. Everybody seems so dang _decent_, everybody always sort of seems like they're just over the moon to be there, much less get star baker or *hushed whisper* win the competition.

I liked that the vegan bakes were mostly handled relatively without fanfare or "ugh, god, why vegan". This is what we're making this week? Ok, I'm going to make the best possible example of that! And honestly, I'd love to have had any of them.

I felt bad for Manon's showstopper - she had done pretty well in the signature and technical, but an inedible cake is inedible.
posted by Kyol at 8:50 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the wiki article on aquafaba is interesting that it's actually a relatively recent discovery that isn't some godawful weird science experiment or "we import this product from halfway across the world, but at least it doesn't come from an animal" moral relativity.

Is there a significant difference between vegetarianism and veganism in the UK, or is it generally all or nothing?
posted by Kyol at 8:53 PM on October 10 [1 favorite]


I'd never heard of aquafaba - so am delighted to share a list of 20 (or I guess "19 other") amazing things vegans can do with it.
posted by rongorongo at 12:07 AM on October 11


Is there a significant difference between vegetarianism and veganism in the UK, or is it generally all or nothing?

Yes, there is. For example, most restaurants these days have a vegetarian option, but they usually lean heavily on eggs or dairy. Vegetarianism is completely mainstream, veganism is still pretty niche — although it does seem to be getting significantly more common.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 12:14 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


I'm thrilled about another Kim-Joy victory. Her technical was not so bad, all things considered. She's adorable and I loved her cake.
posted by ancient star at 7:29 AM on October 11


I liked the moment when a couple of the other bakers did a little victory dance for Rahul, since he's too shy to do his own. It really encapsulated that GBBO sweetness, which sets the show apart from other reality competitions.
posted by merriment at 7:54 AM on October 11 [5 favorites]


I was quite surprised that both Ruby and Rahul decided to brush sugar syrup onto their showstopper layers, but not super-surprised when that decision led to both of their cakes collapsing. Vegan cakes are often prone to denseness or sogginess, but rarely to dryness, and I don't really quite get what they were thinking the syrup would add other than potential instability and a puddingy texture. And Ruby's plan seemed stranger still, since chocolate and lemon is an odd combination and since the cakes weren't intended to be eaten together in the first place. Despite the collapse, I didn't really believe they'd axe her, since Jon had been rough all through, but she was so upset, poor thing! (And poor Rahul, who seemed even more crushed by his own cake's collapse, somehow, though it was less dramatic.)

I'm going to miss Jon, but kinda figured this would be his last week. His flavours have usually seemed pretty good, but his decoration's often been rather clumsy, and that certainly seemed to be the case this week. (I was also a little puzzled by his tart composition -- falafel tart? what? why would you do that? you know, vegans DO eat things other than falafel sometimes...)

I'm increasingly convinced that Kim-Joy is some form of forest nymph changeling, but nevertheless I am here for it. S3's Frances irritated me, on occasion, but I find Kim-Joy to be a pure delight.
posted by halation at 2:13 PM on October 11


I'm glad for the overall positive approach to creating vegan desserts by the bakers (though Jon did a fair bit of grousing about it). Most of them looked tasty.
posted by Julnyes at 8:27 AM on October 12


This is nothing to do with this episode, per se -- but midway through, I realized that I really miss those little segments where Mel and Sue, or Noel, would go in depth on a particular element. I loved those, and I guess they weren't such a massive element where I noticed right away that they were gone, but -- seriously, was not last week's technical a perfect opportunity to go into the history of the puits d'amour, or the week before, into the ma'amoul? Which literally not one of the bakers had ever heard of, so certainly not Average Viewer? Even last series, Noel got sent out to hilariously mispronounce 'stroopwafels' in Gouda (it's a long O, Noel, not an "ooh"!). Dear Channel 4, if you're out there, please bring back the educational segments. They were awesome. And, c'mon! Next week is Danish week? If you're not sending Sandi out you are missing several tricks.

And, I think I've just become a Ruby fangirl? I would have dissolved into so many tears there would be entire rivers flowing from the tent, after that Showstopper collapsed. I suppose Kim-Joy or Rahul are the favorites to win, but -- Ruby, girl, I gotchoo.

Most of those bakes looked amazing. I'm super pleased with myself for having the forethought to save the liquid from some chickpeas I drained to make Kenji Lopez-Alt's marinated kale salad last Sunday (chucked it in the freezer because who knows when I'll use it), because now I want to try those aquafaba pavlovas. And thanks to the bakers I now know at least approximately how to make one!
posted by sldownard at 1:49 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


I was quite surprised that both Ruby and Rahul decided to brush sugar syrup onto their showstopper layers, but not super-surprised when that decision led to both of their cakes collapsing.

Yeah, I mean I totally understand the bakers failing in the technical - while maybe they've seen the item or heard of it, few of them have direct experience baking it, and yet even with vague and incomplete directions, they usually manage to pull off a finished item that looks almost right 9 times out of 10.

But failing in the Signature and Showstopper where the bakers are at least theoretically testing it at home at least once or twice? Ok, there will be times where you couldn't predict the weather and your chocolate filigree is a puddle or your creme pat breaks and it throws you off your timing, fine, I get that. But there are so many examples of the bakers sabotaging themselves by trying to improve on what they did at home, or forgetting that what works at home isn't necessarily what works in the tent. Ecch. I wonder how much of that is just the competitive drive on the day of filming, seeing what everybody else is doing and deciding they need to add another 10% and _whoops_, the bake fails.
posted by Kyol at 2:13 PM on October 12


Jon did a fair bit of grousing about it
To repurpose a tired vegan joke: How do you know if someone eats meat? They'll tell you.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:14 PM on October 12 [3 favorites]


I had no idea vegan cakes could be so structurally unsound! I make vegan cakes all the time, because I am a lazy person who enjoys playing around with variations on the WWII-era "wacky" cakes that my grandmother used to make.

Aquafaba was surprisingly delightful! I'd read about it on Serious Eats and the like, but had not seen it in action. I really liked seeing it in a finished dish.

Every year, there's always a few repeated themes (always biscuits, cakes, pastry, and bread, plus usually dessert and/or Pâtisserie week) with a few new themes. I like the new themes quite a lot -- they're always so interesting. I also like that they've not necessarily dialed down the difficulty this year, but have at least tried to manage things better. I always hated seeing nearly everyone's bakes fail as we got later in the seasons because they were getting too challenging.
posted by PearlRose at 10:01 AM on October 15


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