‘The Great British Baking Show’ Recap: Season 12, Episode 8 “Free-From Week”


It is week eight on The Great British Baking Show and it is the quarter-final already! The five remaining bakers are tackling “Free-From Week” where they will be faced with gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan bakes.

Signature Challenge

For the signature challenge, the bakers were asked to bake a batch of eight identical dairy-free ice cream sandwiches. They had three hours to make their sandwiches and could produce any kind of biscuit and any flavor of ice cream. It was particularly challenging because their dairy-free alternatives were likely to alter the taste and texture of the ice cream and so they had to balance this carefully. Surprisingly, everyone did fairly well with this challenge.

Lizzie made dark chocolate biscuits embossed with a dog pattern to contain her vanilla and almond brittle ice cream. She used oat milk rather than cream or milk. The judges once again commented on her lack of “finesse.” They thought her biscuits were too large, uneven, and had lost the definition of her pattern. However, they loved the texture of her ice cream and her flavors. They thought it was a good combination of the bitter dark chocolate with the creaminess of the ice cream.

Giuseppe used tofu and soya milk to make his ginger and maple syrup cookies and orange ice cream. I was a bit dubious about how strong his orange flavor was going to be since he used orange juice, zest, essence, and candied orange peel. However, the judges thought that the orange flavor was perfect with a lovely hint of ginger from the biscuits. They thought his sandwiches looked lovely and his flavors and textures were good, although the ice cream wasn’t quite as creamy as they had hoped for.

Chigs used coconut milk to make his pistachio and cardamom biscuits with mango, lime, and coconut ice cream. The judges thought his sandwiches looked perfect, but they weren’t as good as they had hoped for. His ice cream lacked in mango flavor and his biscuits didn’t have much flavor either. His ice cream also ended up more sorbet-like than ice cream.

Jürgen decided to be clever and make a biscuit that was already dairy-free. He made ground pistachio and almond macarons to contain his banana and coconut ice cream. Sadly, he had problems with his macarons. It took him a while to cool his macaron mixture and so he didn’t have enough time to rest them which is what gives macarons their classic skin and dome. He ended up with a weird flat biscuit that was not a macaron. Despite this very poor macaron, the judges liked the chewiness and flavor of the biscuit. They thought the flavors complemented each other well and that the ice cream was perfect.

Crystelle made tahini and miso cookies to go with her cashew milk and coffee ice cream. The judges thought her sandwiches looked nice and uniform and that her blend of flavors was lovely. They did think that the texture of the ice cream was a bit light and wet though.

Technical Challenge

For the technical challenge, the bakers were asked to bake eight identical vegan sausage rolls. They had to make a vegan rough-puff pastry with a mushroom and walnut filling. They also had to make a sticky caramelised red onion chutney to accompany it in the two-hour time limit. The judges expected perfectly laminated pastry with the bakers using a vegan block rather than butter for this process. They had to follow a pared back recipe and the bakes were then ranked from worst to best in a blind judging.

Crystelle came in last place in this challenge. She had crimped her sausage rolls all the way around, so they resembled a pasty. The flavor of her sausage roll was good but it was rather dry, as the vegan block had leaked out of the pastry. However, she almost killed Paul with the amount of chilli that she had put in her chutney. He choked on it and then invited her to try it. She mentioned that she is alright with spice and then promptly almost choked on it herself.

Jürgen came in fourth place as his rolls were messy. He also had a disaster when he went to turn his sausage rolls in the oven. They fell off his tray and onto the floor. I’m amazed that he got away with picking them up, putting them back in the oven and still serving them to the judges!

Lizzie came in third place as she had good lamination, but her rolls were overbaked. Giuseppe came in second as his sausage rolls were very good but too flat. This left Chigs in first place as his flavors were balanced well and they also looked good.

Showstopper Challenge

For the showstopper challenge, the bakers were asked to bake a gluten-free celebration cake. In four hours, they had to make a beautifully decorated cake with at least two tiers. They could use alternative gluten-free flours but had to ensure that the texture of the cake was not impacted.

Crystelle made another cake dedicated to her grandma. After her sister became engaged, her grandma had a dress picked out for the wedding and had it hung on the back of her door. In honor of this, Crystelle planned to pipe her grandma’s dress cascading down the side of her two-tiered cake alongside roses piped in buttercream. These would cover her coconut, walnut, and cardamom sponges (made with rice flour) sandwiched with coconut and jaggery crème patissiere. The judges thought it looked amazing, particularly the roses. They loved the texture of her sponges as they were nutty and moist. They thought the flavors and bake were great, although Prue thought that it was a little heavy on the buttercream.  

Lizzie made a two-tiered coconut flour sponge sandwiched with pineapple jam. This was covered in lime Italian meringue buttercream and rice paper fins. This was a representation of her brain and SEN (Special Educational Needs) which needs more representation in media. Her cake was a stunning representation of this with her rice paper fins being covered in a jumble of letters and numbers to represent her dyslexia and her multi-coloured piping representing her brain fuzz. The judges loved it and said that she presented them with “finesse.” They liked the flavors, although Prue thought the pineapple flavor was a little strong.

Giuseppe made a black forest gateau cake that used egg whites to create height in the cake rather than flour. His cake included crushed pistachios, puffed rice, chocolate, Chantilly cream, and kirsch cherry jam. At the beginning of this challenge, star baker was his to lose. Unfortunately, the challenge did not go well for him. His sponge was described as stodgy and gluey. Paul thought his cake didn’t look very good either.

Jürgen and Chigs really stood out this challenge. Jürgen took a big risk by making a very large three-tiered cake which was large enough to feed 80 people! Each of his tiers consisted of three different types of sponge, white, milk, and dark chocolate. This meant he had to multi-task in order to make nine different sponges from three different cake batters. His different types of sponge were separated by chocolate buttercream and apricot jam. His cake was then decorated with a chocolate ganache drip and an ombre effect in buttercream. The judges were very impressed with his beautiful cake. It was nicely baked, moist, and his buttercream was very light.   

‘The Great British Baking Show’

Chigs made a two-tiered red velvet cake that was sandwiched with strawberry jam and alternating layers of chocolate and vanilla cream cheese frosting. It was decorated with a chocolate drip and an ornate chocolate collar. It looked absolutely stunning! The collar worked very well and when the judges cut into his cake, his layers were very distinct. They loved the flavors and Prue said that it was faultless.  


Like last week, the competition this week was very tight. It will certainly be a very close semi-final next week as all the bakers are very strong! Going into the showstopper, Giuseppe was very clearly in line for star baker and it was his title to lose. Due to his disappointing showstopper and the impressive cakes made by the other bakers, Chigs and Jürgen put themselves in line to win the title. This week it was Chigs who triumphed due to his faultless showstopper cake.

Despite also producing excellent showstopper cakes, Lizzie and Crystelle were in line to be eliminated. They both struggled in the technical and didn’t stand out particularly in the signature challenge. This week it was Lizzie that was eliminated and everyone was sad to see her go. Her quirkiness and humour will definitely be missed in the tent!

Baking Show Best Bits

Here are some of my favorite non-baking moments from this week’s episode!

  • Jürgen talking about testing ice cream parlours in Germany and everyone got their hopes up that this was an actual job. Sadly, he was just unofficially testing them.
  • Crystelle refusing to move her cake onto the cake stand until the breeze in the tent had gone in case it knocked her cake over.  
  • Crystelle made a representation of her gran’s dress on her showstopper cake but made the dress rather racy. Chigs questioned whether this was actually what her gran planned to wear to the wedding, saying “Go on, Gran!”

Next week, the bakers will compete in “Patisserie Week” for the semi-final. Make sure you check it out on Netflix next Friday, then check back here for the latest recap!

Lynette has been a lifelong nerd and over the last few years finally learned to let her freak flag fly. She likes to dip her toe into almost every fandom but is particularly passionate about Supernatural, Stranger Things, Marvel and Disney. When she isn’t binge watching programs, she loves to swim, sing and (true to her Ravenclaw nature) read. Lynette joined the Nerds and Beyond staff in 2019 and loves sharing her nerdy knowledge with the world.

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