Toppling Tiers And Custard Crimes: Great British Bake Off’s Biggest Disasters Ever

Things don't always go to plan in the tent – as this lot have proved.

Considering they are supposed to be the crème de la crème (sorry) of the amateur baking world, the bakers on The Great British Bake Off still manage to have some have absolute nightmares on the show.

Most of these disasters stem from when things aren’t going exactly to plan as the contestants navigate the challenges set by Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith and previously Mary Berry.

Over the course of the last 13 series, there have been many memorable-for-all-the-wrong-reasons moments. Here are the biggest disasters to strike inside that famous tent...


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Let’s start with the obvious one, shall we?

In one of the most memorable Bake Off moments ever, Iain Watters binned his Baked Alaska back in 2014 after it fell apart when he removed it from the tray, having failed to freeze.

To add to matters, fellow competitor Diana Beard had momentarily removed it from the fridge, with some viewers wrongly accusing her of ruining his bake.

Toppling tiers

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Bake Off’s first-ever Vegan Week didn’t go exactly as planned for contestant Ruby Bhogal back in 2018, when she had trouble getting her two-tier cake to stay in place.

After a team effort to get it to stay, the bakers headed out of the tent as they awaited the judges’ verdict, only for the top tier of Ruby’s cake to make a break for it…

Pudding puddles

Bake Off has long been hailed as the pinnacle of food porn, with the contestants serving up eye-watering cakes, biscuits and desserts every week.

However, when Prue Leith tasked the 2020 series bakers with making a Pond Pudding, literally zero people said “oooh, I can’t WAIT to make that”.

It had a suet crust. It had a leaky centre. And yes, it had a whole, unpeeled lemon in side. NO THANK YOU.

Things, unsurprisingly, did not go well for the bakers.

Ice cream (bad) dream

Not only do the amateur bakers have to contend with the pressure of the competition, but also the high temperatures in the tent.

So making ice cream cakes in the middle of summer 2020 was never going to end well, was it?

Heatwave horror

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The heatwave of 2018 also played havoc with one of Terry Hartill’s bakes during Cake Week, when the heat caused his Eiffel Tower cake to start looking more like the Leaning Tower Of Pisa.

After his attempts to save it, the chocolate decorations crumbled and he binned the top layer, presenting the judges with only two thirds of the French landmark.

An act of god

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Paul Jagger earned a place in the hearts of Bake Off fans with his incredible lion bread, but he had much less luck during Patisserie Week in 2015.

His religieuse a l’ancienne showstopper collapsed under the weight of construction ahead of the final judging, with Paul subsequently exiting the competition.

Baking bloodbath

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There was a bloodbath in the tent back in series three, when eventual winner John Whaite had a kitchen mishap involving a blender.

John nearly lost a finger after dipping his hand in the Magimix, and he came close to passing out as blood filled his glove. He was later taken out of the tent to receive medical attention.

Cakes a-flying

Fans’ hearts were in their mouths after an incident involving contestants Sura and Dave and a tray of pineapple upside-down cakes during the first episode of the 2020 series.

As they delivered their half dozen pineapple upside-down cakes to the gingham alter, Sura swung her arm to hit a fly and but knocked Dave and his tray, causing four of his six cakes to fly across the room.

Dave was then seen walking away in frustration as the cakes lay smashed on the floor, while a devastated Sura tried to apologise.

Devastating demolition

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Funnily enough, Louise Williams was eliminated from the competition after presenting this to Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood back in 2016, after disaster struck her gingerbread house in the final moments.

Speaking afterwards, she said: “I laugh at it now but it was devastating at the time. I think I could have got top marks for a cake disaster award.”

Flattened muffins

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We miss Mel and Sue a lot on Bake Off, but one person who might have wished they weren’t in the tent during his series was Howard Middleton.

Back in 2013, Sue was responsible for flattening his muffins (!) during Bread Week when she leant down on the counter to have a chat with him, not realising her arm was resting on his bakes.

However, Howard’s mauled muffins were just the start of his problems...

Custard crimes

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Just a week later, Howard suffered another setback when Deborah Manger mistakenly stole his custard during Dessert Week.

Deborah soon realised her error and confessed to Sue, in what became known as #CustardGate on social media.

“It’s either a terrible error or the most incredible case of baking espionage I’ve ever seen,” Sue joked, before Debroah offered Howard her custard to use instead.

Gloopy gateau

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Series six contestant Dorret Conway was left in tears in the very first week of the competition when her showstopper challenge went off course.

She’d had trouble getting her black forest gateau to firm up, putting it in the fridge to help it set. But – as you can see from above – her hopes were dashed when it came to taking it out of its plastic.

It wasn’t all bad though, as a strong enough performance in the signature and technical challenge helped see her through to the next week.

Fit for the floor

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Back in series three, competition favourite James Morton experienced every baker’s worst nightmare when he dropped an entire cake on the floor.

While he still had time to whip up another to replace it, his final efforts still didn’t hit the right spot with the judges.

A sorry soufflé

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Steph Blackwell had been the favourite to win the 10th series in 2019, but was left in tears when her stilton soufflés collapsed into liquid during the final technical challenge.

After her later showstopper was badly received, she was given a hug by Paul, before David Atherton was crowned the winner of the series.

Early errors

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The bakers had only been set their first challenge when disaster struck Henry Bird in 2019.

An intricate topper for his signature bake – a house made out of piped royal icing – smashed into tiny little pieces as he tried to place it on the top of his fruit cake.

Still, it didn’t set Henry back in the long run, as he went on to last eight weeks in the competition.


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