The Great British Bake Off, week 5, Pastry Week review: Matt Lucas is outshining Noel Fielding

Michael Hogan
·6-min read
Noel Fielding is in his third series of Bake Off but is already being upstaged by newcomer Matt Lucas - Love Productions
Noel Fielding is in his third series of Bake Off but is already being upstaged by newcomer Matt Lucas - Love Productions

Pastry Week saw further harsh judging, collapsing cages, eclair despair and several bakers in peril. Here are all the rough puff talking points…

Matt Lucas is outshining co-host Noel Fielding

Five episodes into his tent tenure, Matt Lucas continues to look like inspired casting: warm, welcoming and naturally nimble-witted. He wore pastry lattice on his bald head for “a lockdown look”, gave out “valueless handshakes” and said he wouldn’t go on Channel 4 stablemate Naked Attraction because: “My body is my own business.”

Lucas even treated us to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Little Britain catchphrase by asking Lottie to save him a toad-in-hole pastie with an Andy Pipkin-style: “Want that one!”

Sure, Noel Fielding got some laughs too - mainly by winding up sparring partner Hollywood for his “powerful buttocks”, “thunder fingers” and “egg-washed bronze look” - but he’s currently playing a supporting role to Lucas’s star turn. Yeah I know!

Linda’s stinker saw her sent home

“This is the week I wanted to get to,” said an optimistic Linda Rayfield as the episode began. “I know I can make pastry. Lots of us mums can.” Words which came back to bite her during an episode from hell.

Her Goan-inspired signature pasties weren’t crimped as requested and were essentially samosas. The technical challenge went even worse. Linda simply couldn’t get the choux pastry right for her eclairs, binning her batter and starting again three times. They didn’t rise, looked more like churros and Linda served them “deconstructed” with the crème pâtissière and icing as dips. Needless to say, she came last.

She needed the showstopper to save her but that went disastrously too. Linda’s colourful red, gold and green pastry dome got stuck to the bowl and broke in half. “Pastry Week was supposed to be my week,” Linda shrugged sportingly. “Hey ho. Fair comments.”

This year’s oldest baker at 61, Linda has been a likeably chirpy presence in the tent. She’ll be best remembered for that child-like Battenberg ambulance, her mouthless Bob Marley bust and winning two technicals in a row. She can return to Bexhill-on-Sea with her head held high. 

Linda Rayfield has been a popular contestant, but Pastry Week was to be her last - Love Productions
Linda Rayfield has been a popular contestant, but Pastry Week was to be her last - Love Productions

Tricky challenges meant more harsh verdicts

A retro technical round, making two refined flavours of eclair, sounded fairly reasonable. Yet it had several bakers perspiring with panic. “I’m so stressed,” groaned Lottie Bedlow, while Laura Adlington added: “This is horrendous. Hashtag winging it.”

Runny creme pât leaked everywhere. Several eclairs were served empty or with split, scrambled eggy filling. Linda’s choux pastry was one, twice, three times a failure. “What the…? That’s terrible,” muttered Paul Hollywood damningly.

The showstopper was equally agonising to watch, with cages collapsing, bases too thick and Hollywood querying whether Lottie’s sideless apple tart fulfilled the brief. 

It wasn’t all pastry-based negativity, though, with fulsome praise lavished on Peter Sawkins’s “happy tart”, Hermine’s flavours and Laura’s improvement. "Praul 'n' Poo" can be nice as well as nasty. 

Laura crowned first female Star Baker of series

It was lovely to see Laura scoop the Star Baker prize, not least because she was so endearingly thrilled. “That means a lot to me,” gushed the grinning digital manager from Gravesend. “I don’t think I’ve been as proud of anything in my entire life. I got a bit choked actually. I’m absolutely made up.”

Prue Leith described her signature cheese and onion pasties as “Heaven! I could gobble it up.” Laura struggled in the eclair technical but let’s face it, most did. She bounced back strongly with her Key lime-inspired showstopper which looked exquisite and tasted zestily delicious. Hollywood declared it “highly impressive”, telling Laura: “You’ve excelled yourself.”

Not only is Laura the first woman to win the accolade this year, but it means we’ve now had five different Star Bakers in the opening five weeks - the first time this has happened since series seven, the last contest to be broadcast on the BBC. But who'll become this year's Candice Brown?

Star woman: Laura Adlington is the first woman to be named Star Baker this series - Love Productions
Star woman: Laura Adlington is the first woman to be named Star Baker this series - Love Productions

Is Dave being paid by the Mango Marketing Board?

Uber-competitive armoured guard Dave Friday seems particularly partial to a certain tropical fruit. Already this series, he’s baked chocolate and mango florentines, macaroons with mango curd and a bread plaque with his “signature” mango and lime paste.

Guess what flavour tart he now chose to present inside a Louvre-style pyramid cage? That’s right, mango and lime. Dave was even wearing a mango-yellow T-shirt. Is a secret sponsorship deal in place? An inquiry should be launched by a mango quango.

Curse of Star Baker nearly struck Mark

As Leith warned reigning Star Baker Mark Lutton during the opening round: “That’s the sad thing - it doesn’t guarantee anything. You have to prove yourself every time.” Well, the avuncular Ulsterman crashed back down to earth and almost bounced out of the contest. 

Mark fared well in the first two rounds, with “gorgeous” Indian-inspired pasties and third place in the tricky technical. But when it came to the showstopper round, everything fell apart - literally. 

Making a cage from rough puff pastry was risky and backfired badly, collapsing in poor Mark’s hands. We felt for him as he became sweaty with stress, mopping his brow with a tea towel. His tart looked unappetising too, with its pale poached pears, thick pastry and irregular piping. “You’ve missed something at a core level,” warned Hollywood sternly.

“I’m in a very precarious position,” admitted Mark. The only thing that saved him was Linda having an even worse week and Prue liking his flavours. Phew. 

Midway mark of the series

We’re now halfway through the contest and a magnificent seven remain, so who’s looking like they could go all the way? Well, if I had to predict the three finalists now, I’d probably go for Hermine, Lottie and Peter.

As those shared-around Star Baker accolades indicate, though, it’s a closely fought race. Anyone from the chasing pack of four could easily gate-crash the party. And as we’ve learnt, even the strongest baker is only ever one bad week away from elimination. 

It promises to be a fascinating home stretch. Meet you back here for the first ever Japanese Week, when we’ll see whose buns are steamiest and whose sun is rising.

Read more: All the Great British Bake Off series ranked, from worst to best 

Which contestant has impressed you most so far? Tell us in the comments below