Ask the Expert: GBBO does alternatives

With free-from foods in growth, The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) contestants take on the challenge of baking with alternative ingredients. Gregg Woodhead, product development manager at British Bakels, passes on his words of wisdom in our Ask the Expert blog.

Tonight the remaining bakers must bake without sugar, gluten or dairy in three separate tasks. This, says Woodhead, is going challenge everything the bakers know.“It will be a really tough one. When we started working on gluten free, we treated it as a completely separate project. Everything you know about baking has to be thrown out and you have to start again. For many, if they are not familiar with alternatives, then they might be taken aback – you cannot apply the same familiarities as you do in normal baking, like just throwing in extra flour or water.”

The bakers kick off with a sugar-free cake. Using replacements like honey, agave syrup and fruits, they create everything from an upside-down pineapple cake to carrot cakes.

Woodhead says: “When using syrups you obviously have to factor in the extra water content in the bake. Another thing to think about is flavour. You have to think of something that complements the alternative - whether it is maple syrup, agave or jams. Also, syrups can have quite a cooling effect taste-wise, so they need to find flavours which match that, like raspberry.”

Next up, gluten-free pittas - something Woodhead warns will be tricky due to the stickiness of the dough. He says: “In normal dough you’ve got gluten there to bind it all together, so this is very different to handle. It will be interesting to see how they manage to handle and shape the product.”

'Go big and go bold'

Finally, the bakers must make dairy-free ice cream rolls. Mary and Paul are looking for silky-smooth ice cream, surrounded by jam and a light sponge. He says: “With cream replacements it is difficult to get that smooth creamy mouthfeel; coconut milk is one way to do it. In terms of flavour, think about what complements coconut, like mango and passionfruit. Also, they have got to take inspiration from ingredients when it comes to design. If using coconut, think about where that comes from and really go to town on the theme - go big and go bold. I think that’s the key to winning Bake Off.”

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