The Great British Bake Off: The Best & Worst Bakes Ever!

  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • The Great British Bake Off, Bake Off or GBBO – whatever you choose to call it, everyone’s favourite baking show is soon to be back on our screens. And if previous shows are anything to go by, Paul, Mary, Sue and Mel will be on fine form as they return for the seventh series of the hit show.

    With the first Great British Bake Off series gracing our screens in 2010 the infamous baking tent decorated floor to ceiling in quintessentially English tablecloths and tea sets, has become the iconic setting of many a disastrous and triumphant bake. And we can’t wait to see what the bakers have up their sleeves this year.

    But before the new raft of The Great British Bake Off amateur bakers present their efforts to baking royalty Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, there’s just enough time to look back at the best and worst bakes of early series of GBBO. And haven’t there been some corkers? Stunning picnic pies, exquisite petits fours and crispy, snappy crackers sit alongside some not-so-creative and not-so-tasty disaster bakes, all on The Great British Bake Off…

    Series Four: The best

    Howard’s Black Forest Cake

    Howard’s Black Forest Revisited left us speechless. Mary called it a ‘masterpiece’ but we loved it simply for ‘Paul the Black Forest Bear’. Mr Hollywood didn’t look too impressed.

    Try our modern twist on the gateaux with this Black Forest Cheesecake

    Frances’ Veg Patch Canapes

    Frances was often accused of creating style over substance, but luckily for her, she proved the judges wrong and won the series. These vegetable patch treats were exceptional and fantastically dainty.

    Try some recipes for party food that’s slightly more simple

    Frances’ Picnic Pie

    In our (humble) opinion, this pie looks like mouth-watering perfection, it’s a clever combination of being both rustic and elegant, and even Paul heaped praise on Frances saying that ‘the filling was fantastic’.

    Here’s our recipe for leek and goat’s cheese picnic loaf

    Beca’s Cheese Cake

    Beca’s spiced butternut squash and pecan cake put a surprising twist on the vegetable cake challenge. If only we could be quite as creative with icing!

    More vegetable cake recipe ideas

    Christine’s Gingerbread Shortbread House

    Who knew that simple shortbread could be transformed into something so wonderful?
    Simple shortbread recipe

    Series Four: The worst

    Ruby’s Wedding Cake

    Ruby caused a stir, but it certainly wasn’t because of this unimaginative wedding cake! According to Mary and Paul, the flavours were ‘exceptional’ but the dull frosting and clumsy icing work left little to be desired.

    Howard’s Peachy Buns

    Paul poured cold water over Howard’s Peachy Buns by saying that they had no flavour. We just admired the name!

    Recipe for Chelsea buns

    Series Three: The best

    Ryan’s Key Lime Pie

    One of the best ever bakes is undoubtedly Ryan’s key lime pie. Despite coming last in the technical challenge, his perfect American pie was enough on its own to earn him the accolade of star baker.

    Try our key lime tartlets recipe

    James’ Rose, Raspberry and Macaron Tart

    Creamy tart? Check. Macaroons? Check. Raspberries? Check. This pink-hued tart was a Series Two triumph – and a first for Mary Berry who admitted she had never tasted a rose-flavoured tart before.

    Try this flavour-filled raspberry and lemon tart

    Brendan’s Stollen Castle

    The instruction for this Third Series showstopper challenge was a celebratory sweet bread – and as ever, Brendan didn’t disappoint. His stollen castle won over the judges – and all of us!

    Mix it up with our stollen parfait dessert recipe

    John’s Heaven and Hell Cake

    The grand final saw a bake to put all other cakes to shame: winner John’s showstopper heaven and hell chiffon cake.

    Brendan’s Bagels

    Chocolate twisted bagels? Not an instant draw but they worked wonders in the second week of Series Three when baking bread was the key theme.

    John’s Gingerbread Roman Colosseum

    An architechtural masterpiece, John’s gingerbread Roman colloseum was a feat of baking – and engineering – all in one!

    Brendan’s Petits Fours Cygnets

    Resident Series three perfectionist Brendan carried off one of the most intricate bakes ever seen with his miniature lime curd cygnet petits fours. Incredible.

    Brendan’s Crackers

    Who would have thought that the simple cracker was so difficult to master? Brendan’s multi-seed flatbreads were regimental in shape and size. We’re not sure we could manage the same!

    Series Three: The worst

    Natasha’s Mother’s Day Cake

    It might have looked beautiful on the outside, but Natasha’s Mother’s Day rose cake was practically raw on the inside! You can’t judge a cake by its icing…

    This rose cake recipe has a wonderful combination of flavours

    Stuart’s Torte

    Stuart’s black forest tart completely collapsed in the fourth week of Series Three when it failed to set. He then came last in the technical challenge, and left the show that week.

    Try our black forest cheesecake recipe for a crowd-pleasing dessert idea

    James’s Gingerbread Barn

    For the ‘gingerbread structures’ challenge in the Series Three quarter final, James’s barn was in trouble from the start. But, by covering it in a little spun sugar, he managed to convince Paul and Mary that the ‘ruined’ look was in fact his goal all along!

    Downsize your gingerbread house with our recipe

    Danny’s Fraisier Cake

    Danny’s Fraisier cake was a disaster. The creme patissiere failed to set, leaving what should have been a beautiful masterpiece little short of a sloppy mess.

    Series Two: The best

    Colourful Quiche

    The second week of Series Two saw the trials and tribulations of the quiche challenge. A deceptively simple task, not all bakers enjoyed success, however this beautifully made quiche pleased Paul and Mary.

    Make your own masterpiece with this two-cheese and onion quiche

    Series Two: The worst


    Making profiteroles is hard enough – let alone stacking them in a giant tower with spun sugar and chocolate. The quarter final showstopper challenge of Series Two, saw the bakers’ croquembouche constructions resemble the leaning tower of Pisa more than The Shard!

    Try a more simple profiterole recipe here

    Victoria’s Blackbird Pie Cake

    Despite leaving Series Three in the early stages, Victoria won the star baker award in the very first week with her incredible blackbird pie cake.

    Stuart’s Creme Caramel

    For the technical challenge, Stuart’s creme caramel didn’t go well, leaving him in the dangerous bottom spot. He was eliminated that week.

    Series One: The best

    Mini Cupcakes

    Back in Series One, cupcakes were on the menu. These dainty, pretty white fairy cakes went down a storm – perfect for a wedding!

    Feeling inspired? Click through our round-up of cupcake recipes here

    Latest Stories