Episode 5 is 'Free-From Week', and the contestants have a series of challenges where they must bake without some of the most common kitchen ingredients. Presumably, this is in an attempt to show us viewers at home that there's life after gluten, that sugar-free doesn't equal taste-free, and that dairy isn't a necessity. Therefore, what the program makers probably didn't want was the opening scenes featuring Tamal with a look of disgust on his face as he stirs an unappetising-looking brown concoction. "This... is... rank", he confesses to the camera.
The VT to start the show also focuses on Ian's incredible record of three consecutive weeks as star baker, and the challenge the others face to get to his level. "All the other bakers want to break my fingers," he cheerfully retorts, and you get the sense they wouldn't exactly lose much sleep were he to have a kitchen disaster. Is this unusual beginning foreshadowing what's to come, or is it merely a red herring?
The signature challenge is a sugar-free cake, and our remaining eight must find something else to sweeten their sponges. Most of the bakers go with either agave syrup or honey, but Nadiya has decided to get the sugary hit in her blueberry and caraway crunch cake with mulberry molasses. Tamal proves his medical credentials by using syringes to inject grapefruit and blood orange syrup into his honey polenta cake, and Mat's got so much filling in his carrot, date and honey cake, it's a wonder there's any sponge at all.
Usually, a portent of bad things to come on Bake Off is someone making a cake so simple that they've finished well ahead of time. Today that's Alvin, whose tried and tested pineapple upside down cake is ready so early that he has time to clean his entire workstation and make himself a brew whilst everyone else rushes around him. However, his cake is a winner, as is Paul's carrot, pecan and agave creation. Less lucky is Ugne who, despite everything looking hunky dory to begin with, finds that her chocolate, hazelnut and agave cake (which is also gluten-free) has a structural mishap just before the judges appear. However, there's some succour for Ugne, and she can't hide the delight on her face when Ian's pear, ginger and honey cake is proclaimed to be "stodgy".
Paul Hollywood sets a technical challenge of a dozen gluten-free pitta breads. In fact, it's as if he doesn't realise that a prime-time television show needs a bit more spectacle than some amateur bakers staring at a proving draw before turning out some dull, oval flatbreads. I say 'oval' because, well, everyone knows pitta breads are oval, don't they? Everyone, that is, except Alvin, who has apparently got to the fifth week of Britain's most competitive baking show without the faintest idea what a pitta bread looks like. First he ponders whether they're triangular and when it comes to rolling them out, he stares at the ceiling whilst muttering aloud, "Circle? Oblong? Circle? ...Oblong?". In the end, he has a crisis of confidence and dodges the question altogether by basically just making plain naan breads.
Unsurprisingly, Alvin finishes bottom, just behind Tamal who, with 23 minutes to go, was still considering giving his raw dough a second prove. Nadiya, however, who has come in the bottom three of every technical challenge thus far, completely storms it and wins the round, ahead of Paul in second and Flora in third.
Ahead of this week's showstopper challenge, Paul Hollywood shouts, "We expect to see magic in the tent!" as if he's just realised the last challenge may well have lost them a million or two viewers. Our heroic octet have four and a half hours to make an ice cream roll, with the stipulation that the ice cream must be dairy-free. Many of the bakers circumvent this lactose-limiting law by cracking out the tins of coconut milk leading, naturally, to a handful of them picking tropical-themed desserts. In fact, both Paul and Ian are making their very own 'dessert islands' with sculptures and a beach theme. Ian's palm trees are very impressive indeed, but Paul spends a little too long sculpting the individual parts of his bikini-clad marzipan woman. You get the impression Paul's practised that quite often.
As you'd expect, having to make their own ice cream is proving quite the challenge, but perhaps not for the reasons you might think. For viewers hoping for some kind of melting-based schadenfreude or a scandal to rival last year's Baked Alaska-gate, there's nothing of the sort, as all the ice cream emerges from the churning machines pretty much as planned. What is a problem, however, is wrapping the sponge around it, due to the quantities they've made. Alvin's got so much of his buko pandan (Filipino coconut) ice cream left over that he's offering it round to his fellow contestants, and Tamal also struggles to encase all his ice cream, cracking his sponge in the process.
While Alvin's pitta blindness in the last round was surprising, it's nothing compared to Paul Hollywood's bafflement at Ugne's flavour combinations. When she announces she's making peanut butter ice cream and teaming it with grape jelly, Hollywood shoots her a quizzical look and offers his reservations that those two things might not work well together. Oh sure, Paul, I mean, peanut butter and jam are only one of the world's most popular sandwich fillings, that's all. Ugne's real mistake, though, is to try and put her jam inside the ice cream rather than around it and, as a result, it comes out looking like a sloppy mess. A very tasty sloppy mess though.
Elsewhere, the judges don't seem particularly bothered that Flora has entirely ignored the brief and made a chocolate and pear bûche (you may notice the words 'ice', 'cream' and 'roll' don't feature anywhere in the name of that dessert), and Mat's sponge is rolled so tightly he's managed to force all the ice cream out of one end. Ian, who, according to the judges, was "in danger" following the technical challenge, crafts a mango and stem ginger ice cream roll that MezBez says is "ingenious", and Nadiya gets plenty of plaudits for her freehand piping and mousse that runs down the centre of her chocolate, strawberry and lime dessert. It's a high standard; all three challenges had the potential for utter disaster but everyone's made a decent fist of it. Who can they send home?
Innuendo of the week: "Facing me, I've got a bit of a crack". Mary seems to be having some kind of horrific flashback whilst judging the ice cream rolls. It's best not to dwell on these things, Bezza.
Star baker: Not Ian! Nadiya's really pulled it out of the bag this week and she's a very deserving winner. She breaks into tears whilst imagining how proud her family will be of her accomplishments.
Going home: Ugne was bottom of a strong bunch and in the end, her over-ambition was probably what did it. Attempts to pack in multiple flavours and techniques meant that her bakes this episode were a bit... gloopy.
Next week: The super seven tackle pastry. Cue endless remarks about 'soggy bottoms'.