The Great British Bake Off: Karen remembers her roots

Local baker Karen paid tribute to her Pontefract roots on The Great British Bake Off this week.

Wednesday, 26th September 2018, 12:18 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th September 2018, 7:01 pm
The Great British Bake Off 2018: The contestants. Picture: Channel 4.

If you’ve not yet watched episode five of The Great British Bake Off, turn back now. This article contains spoilers for week five.

It was the first ever spice week in the tent, and the nine remaining bakers faced enormous pressure as it was announced that two contestants would be sent home at the end of the weekend.

For local baker Karen, the bad luck began in the first challenge, when judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith declared her signature ginger cake “too boozy” and noted that she had added too much brandy to the mix.

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For the technical challenge, the contestants were asked to bake two batches of six ma’amoul, an ancient Arab pastry.

The bakers were expected to shape six walnut-filled pastries in moulds and to flavour the remaining ma’amoul with date paste, shaped with a special set of tongs.

As the other contestants worried about shaping their pastries, Karen realised she had made a more pressing mistake.

The Great British Bake Off 2018: Karen was asked to leave the tent in Tuesday's episode

She said: “I’ve done the wrong thing in the wrong mould. I can’t do anything about that now. How did I do that?”

The judges place her ma’amouls in last place after declaring them overbaked, dry and misshapen.

The showstopper challenge tasked the bakers with baking a spiced biscuit chandelier, which would have to be hung and able to hold its own weight.

The Great British Bake Off 2018: Sandi Toksvig, Prue Leith, Paul Hollywood and Noel Fielding with the contestants. Picture: Chennel 4.

Karen’s liquorice and cardamom biscuit chandelier was a tribute to her days at Pontefract Girls’ High School, and featured orange, green and yellow decorations.

Despite her difficult start to the week, she maintained her cheery attitude as she informed viewers: “We used to be called the brown knicker girls.”

When Paul noted that the biscuits, meant to represent her school friends, were “solid and chunky,” Karen joked: “We’re big girls in Pontefract.”

But her biscuits were less entertaining, and Paul criticised her choice of flavours.

After a number of disappointing bakes, Karen did not look surprised when she and retired air steward Terry were asked to leave the tent.

In an emotional goodbye to viewers, she said: “Outside of having a family as a personal achievement, nothing will ever top this I don’t think.

“I really wanted to stay. I always wanted to get to Spice Week because I knew what the Showstopper challenge was, and I really wanted to make it to halfway through the series.

“I was determined to make that crazy biscuit chandelier.

“I made a lot of silly mistakes but I kept smiling through them. When you are in that kind of situation you just keep going.

“It really helped me to leave with Terry. It was bittersweet of course, and I had no doubt that I was going, I knew I couldn’t pull it back this time.

“But to go with a baker that I had a bond with was so much easier.”

Just seven bakers will progress to next week’s episode, which will see contestants faced with three all-new pastry challenges.

Karen and Terry will join Jo Brand on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Friday 28th September at 8pm on Channel 4.