Great British Baking Show Episodes 5 & 6 Recap: Pear Doesn't Bring Anything To A Party

Photo: Courtesy of PBS.
Another double header tonight, because PBS knows we can sit through unlimited episodes of this gem. We start out with alternate ingredients. Which is honestly kind of a snooze fest. Half of the fun of the show is amazing creations, not watching someone use apples instead of sugar. The most exciting part comes at the very beginning, when Ian says, with an affable laugh, that the other contestants want to “break his fingers.” Finally some good, old-fashioned competition!

The first two challenges are pretty dull: sugar-free cakes for signature, and gluten-free pita for the technical. For the cakes, Alvin’s super-simple pineapple upside-down cake and Mat’s super-dense fruit-filled cake get high praise, whereas Ugne’s mess of a cake and Ian’s under-sweetened pear version don't cut it. Maybe it’s for the best, Ian. The other contestants look a lot less finger-break-y after seeing him thrown from his pedestal.

Poor Alvin, whose tangible relief at getting unequivocally positive praise doesn’t last long. He isn’t even sure what makes a pita versus a naan. Nadiya, on the other hand, finally gets first after regularly struggling in the technical.

On to dairy-free ice cream cakes, where the highlight is certainly watching Paul gently form the legs of his icing sunbather on a tropical roll. Nadiya once again comes out on top with a henna-inspired decoration, and Ugne’s creation is, as usual, an over-ambitious mess. She’s sent home, and Nadiya finally dethrones Ian as star baker. And yes, I got choked up listening to Nadiya talk about how proud her husband and kids were going to be of her.

Next, we’re straight into pastry, a much-needed jolt of excitement after the humdrum of sugar-free this and dairy-free that. Now, it’s sugar and butter galore as the seven remaining bakers duke it out over tarts and vols-au-vent. Once again, we’re reminded of how very not American the show is when Tamal bashfully admits he wants to be star baker. How embarrassing. To confess you want to win. In a competition show.

But, as it turns out, it’s not Tamal’s week. Instead, star baker goes to Mat, a guy who seems to have so far skated by in the middle. The guy who regularly winces every time Mary and Paul cut into one of his creations. The guy who seems to be consistently saved by other bakers' more disastrous creations. But this week, he knocked it out of the park with vols-au-vent that, in the immortal words of Mary Berry, are just like soldiers.

Meanwhile, Alvin struggles, revealing in the episode that his father, who was a general, told him failure is never an option. I so wanted him to do well, especially because of how sincerely he apologizes whenever he is criticized for his mistakes. Sadly, his showstopper wasn’t the miracle he needed to save him.

Now, it’s down to six, and it’s truly anyone’s game to win. As Paul Hollywood himself observed, contestants have risen from the bottom to the top — and gone back the other way. Heck, maybe we’re about to witness the ascendancy of Wincing Mat. Then again, Mat tells us Mary Berry “double punched” him in the stomach, which we all know is code for “don’t get too cocky, punk.”

Next week! Old-fashioned bakes, more wincing from Mat, and perhaps the highest compliment Mary Berry could give someone: “Queen Victoria would be proud.”
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