The “Great British Bake Off,” a hit baking competition show in the UK that has gained an international fan base, hosted its first vegan challenge this evening. Coined “Vegan Week,” the six remaining contestants were tasked with creating confections without eggs, milk, butter, or honey.
For this special episode, the bakers were greeted by a costumed dancing cow. The gesture was light-hearted, but many of the bakers wore expressions of concern when they learned that their staple ingredients of butter and eggs would not be allowed in this week’s challenge.
Each episode is divided into three tasks. The first required the bakers to create vegan shortcrust pastry tarts. Typically, this type of pastry relies heavily on butter, but the bakers took up the challenge to create both sweet and savory dishes. Some attempted tofu-based quiche while others whipped up some plant-based mascarpone to fill their dairy-free crusts. Some bakers struggled to meet the challenge, but contestant Rahul Mandal, who perfectly executed an Indian-inspired tart, received praise from the judges. Paul Hollywood commented, “[It’s] so delicate, melts in your mouth..who would have thought that was vegan?”
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Seal it with a kiss. A Vegan Meringue Kiss, to be specific. #VeganWeek #GBBO
The second task featured the “technical challenge.” Judges asked the bakers to whip up a vegan fruit pavlova, which is a meringue-based dessert that is traditionally made with egg whites. Contestants ripped open cans of chickpeas to use the brine to create aquafaba, which mimics egg whites for making meringue. Mandal also received top marks for this challenge, securing a win. Judge Prue Leith described his dessert as, “Marshmallowy on the inside, crispy on the outside.” She continued, “It’s got beautiful definition, silky smooth pastry cream, lots of fruit, looks indulgent, tastes great…love it.”
Finally, the elimination round challenged the bakers to create a vegan celebration cake that is “utterly delicious.” Hollywood noted that he expected these cakes to be on par with any animal-based cake worthy of this established competition. The contestants baked edible vegan works of art, including cakes with eggless lemon curd, a mocha hazelnut cake, spiced apple cake, coconut chocolate cake, and more. In a moment of escalated drama, contestant Ruby Bhogal’s cake completely toppled, but despite its destruction, Judge Leith said it tasted “delicious.”
After the long final challenge, Kim-Joy was awarded the star baker of the week, while Jon Jenkins, who remained negative about the vegan challenge throughout the episode, was eliminated.
Image Credit: The Great British Bake Off
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