The Best Great British Bake Off Episodes Ranked

Producing the ever-so-complicated perfect caramel, having your oven at the perfect temperature, cooking on a tight schedule, and baking things you've never before heard of? All of these things come into play if you're going to be a challenger on "The Great British Bake Off." If you've ever tried your hand at baking, you're probably aware that it presents its own unique challenges, from pairing flavors that work, to drawing your bakes out of the oven before their magic is lost. Now imagine having the pressure to produce your best work under the watchful eyes of two judges, two hosts, and a camera lens?

"The Great British Bake Off" features amateur bakers who compete in a series of baking challenges. As contestants are slowly eliminated, each season leads up to the eventual crowning of the UK's Best Amateur Baker. Episodes run about an hour long, and each is structured into three progressively more difficult challenges: The signature bake, the technical bake, and the episode's most exciting portion – the showstopper bake (via the GBBO website.) 

"The Great British Bake Off" has had its good moments and some ... not so hot ones (via The Guardian.) Most fans of the bake off will agree that it can be a super heart-warming experience as a viewer. With that in mind, here are some of our top episodes, ranked, which we find to be the most entertaining, dramatic, and surprising ones. 

11. Collection 5, Episode 2 - Biscuit Week

What makes this episode stand out is the somewhat unfiltered feel from the bakers, judges, and hosts alike. While Noel Fielding, British comedian and actor, hosts this season with co-host Sandi Toksvig, both make jokes you may not otherwise see on the BBC channel, with nuances aired toward an adult audience, yet appropriate enough for most ages.

The technical challenge asks the bakers to make fortune cookies, and write aphorisms in them too. One that stands out in this episode's silly, and lighthearted feel, made the judges laugh: "Today you will mostly poo candyfloss," we are reminded by The Independent. The contestants also have heart-warming moments that seem more evident in this episode than in the rest of this season, such as baker Liam Charles and harsh judge Paul Hollywood, who is known for his stern critiques, yet sees a quality baker in 19-year-old Liam.

As for who gets another chance to stay in the race to be awarded best baker? Steven makes a chess set out of — you guessed it– biscuits, earning him a crown as star baker for this episode, and is safe from elimination. Tune in for the drama, and of course, the finesse many contestants brought to this episode. 

10. Collection 5, Episode 8 - Forgotten Bakes Week

This episode of "The Great British Bake Off" made heads turn for a few reasons. For this episode's challenges, contestants were asked to bake Bedfordshire clangers for their signature bake, a Rum Nicky for the technical challenge, and a Savoy cake for their showstopper, we recall via Stylist.

We chose this episode for the drama more than anything else. Liam Charles, known for his impressive ability to produce flavors that stand out over this season's other contestants, hadn't even reached his 21st birthday while on the show. In this episode, however, Liam gets sent home, and fans weren't happy with the judges' decision, believing that some contestants should've left the tent instead. Some of those same contestants ended up securing spots in the semi-finals further down the line.

One of these contestants is Stacey Hart, whose clangers leaked during the first challenge, while Kate Lyon dropped one on the floor, and it's also undercooked. You'd think that would be enough to get sent home, but hold your horses. Meanwhile, Liam, who pretty much cruised along the season so far, made a small mistake with his Savoy cake, leaving it a bit melty, also causing him to exit the competition. And who securesdstar baker? Stacey. If you enjoy the drama turned up a dial (no promises that you won't be upset over Liam's tear-jerker of an elimination) then consider tuning in to this episode. 

9. Collection 6, Episode 7 - Vegan week

The first-ever bake-off vegan week? Of course, this would make it to the list. Paul Hollywood had no problem being a little more brutally honest in this one than usual, while also showing some unpredictability (if we can fathom that). This adds an extra bit of juicy entertainment to this particular segment. 

Saying that baker Manon's vegan apple cake "looks great, tastes awful," due to it being under-baked and rubbery, claiming the batter was probably over-mixed, is just the beginning of a tough vegan week's assessments from Paul. While we thought Kim-Joy's lemon-lavender showstopper might have missed the mark due to Paul leading with the statement, "It's quite pudding-y," he ends up praising her creation, leaving her star baker in the end. And it's a joy to see her shine through the unique and cute designs she's produced this far in the competition.

More drama ensues when Ruby's showstopper cake collapses entirely, and she is left with a pile of cake and frosting to be judged, via The Guardian. "At the end of the day, it failed and it's her fault," says Paul, though it was not enough to send her home in the end. If you are able to welcome the drama and ironically relax while watching the bakers undergo insurmountable amounts of cake-related stress, don't skip through this one. But, prepare to be anxious vicariously through them.

8. Collection 3, Episode 2 - The Great Festive Baking Show (Holidays)

Of course, a competition show is always more fun with special guests, and "The Great Festive Baking Show" does not fall short of your seasonal dose of special-guest fun. IMDB even rates this episode an 8.9 out of 10, and it's no surprise why. The holiday aspect makes it simply delightful to watch. 

The very first "Great British Bake-Off" episode of 2020 rang in the new year with the cast of Netflix's "Derry Girls," a show focused on teen characters that takes place in Northern Ireland during the troubles in the 1990s. Actors Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Jamie-Lee O'Donnell, Nicola Coughlan, Dylan Llewellyn, and Siobhán McSweeney attempt to bake to the best of their ability, despite some never having even baked before, as Jackson admits about herself. But that didn't deprive this episode of momentum — Jackson ends up winning the challenge in a series of hilarious self-deprecating jokes made by the actors about their baked creations throughout the segment. McSweeney's reaction to her cake is especially funny. The hosts even deem this episode one of the most fun they've ever done, and that certainly shows through. 

Decider reminds us of why this episode holds so much charm, from the "bakers" being placed in a situation they aren't fit to handle, to their endlessly witty humor carrying us all the way through to the end. 

7. Collection 8, Episode 3 - Bread Week

If pastries and cakes are hard to bake, what could push the bakers to the ultimate test? Why, your favorite carbohydrate: Bread, of course! If you've ever dared attempt bread at home, you'll know it's not an easy feat the first time (and if it was, bravo for you.)

One challenge that makes this episode so binge-worthy is the free-form bread-making. Despite having made sweet and savory soda breads for their signature bakes, the contestants must follow through on a perfectly baked loaf if they intend on getting on to the next week.

What keeps this episode interesting is that bakers have a bit more freedom than usual for their bakes, and all of their breaks must be baked free-form (without the use of a loaf pan). Seeing these British contestants flabbergasted by what a "rainbow bagel" (for their technical challenge) could be is worth the watch in itself. It's also worth mentioning that this episode has kind moments, especially since nearly all bakers are befuddled with the bagel making, or what a bagel even is for that matter. A sense of camaraderie can be found in this episode, and as Vegetarian Times suggests, this is an example of the best of the GBBO. The show's creators insisted on a kind, gentle tone from the beginning, which is why the show doesn't have much artificial drama. And we can work with that. 

6. Collection 8, Episode 8 - Chocolate Week

Who doesn't love chocolate and drama together? Perhaps this is the perfect set of ingredients for a reality television show like "The Great British Bake Off," – Rotten Tomatoes gives it an 88% out of one hundred.

One mysterious happening in this episode is that baker Laura seems to drop her cake during the first signature challenge and it's later magically put together when she's presenting it, and some Reddit users notice this too. What happened to the bake? Probably some very strong editing, and this nuance is worth a watch if you're looking to solve this strange slip in the baking matrix. Nothing like this seems to have happened on this baking competition show yet, and thanks to clever editing it might go way over your head had you looked away for just a second. 

Baker Hermine wins star baker, rightfully so, as her chocolate, raspberry dacquoise, jelly melange-of-a-cake showstopper wows the judges both for flavor and creativity, with Paul deeming it "straight out of a Parisian patisserie," and commenting that it is "absolutely gorgeous." If you'd like some extra wholesome content, make sure to have this episode at the ready, preferably with a pastry at your side to subdue intense sugar cravings.

5. Collection 5, Episode 4 - Caramel Week

If you've ever seen an episode for Caramel Week on the Great British Bake Off, you'll know it's notorious for running many contestants off track because caramel isn't the easiest thing to produce from scratch.

In this episode, no fail is too big as bakers each struggle in their own way, be it with caramel texture or achieving a perfect bake time. The first challenge is the Signature bake, and bakers must make eighteen millionaire shortbreads. They must all look the same and with only two hours to complete this task, let's just say a little chaos ensues. For starters, no one really knocked it out of the park besides Liam Charles, who's known for his great sense of flavor throughout this season. That earns him a handshake from Paul Hollywood (for those of you who don't know, he's the judge with the piercing blue eyes and tough, honest critiques — the Simon Cowell of British judges, one could say). And he doesn't just give out a handshake willy-nilly. 

What ends up happening? Baker Kate wins star baker, and Tom goes home. Prue admits that Kate's apple cake was the best cake she'd ever eaten in her life, and that's quite the compliment coming from the queen of pastries herself. 

4. Collection 9 , Episode 5 - German Week

"The Great British Bake-Off" sometimes features episodes with a singular culture in focus. At times, the show has been called out for insensitive takes on cultures the hosts and judges seem to know very little about. A prime example of this is "Mexico Week" in the newest season, in which hosts made insensitive jokes about the country, according to an article by Bon Appetit.

Luckily for this episode, the show sticks with a European culture they knew how to accurately portray, and it was German bakes. Where's the drama? Jürgen Krauss, the only German contestant on the show, faces extra pressure in this episode, and it isn't hard to see that the episode becomes an all-eyes-on-him situation. It even earns a nickname, "Jürgen Week," we recall through the AV Club, and although the baker had a star baker streak in past episodes of the season, what gives this one the drama we thirst for is that he doesn't particularly slay the game. To add more tension, there are even quick shots of Jürgen's face, despite his sweet disposition, when other contestants do well, and the producers know exactly what they're doing to amp up the drama. Who's most unhappy with Jürgen's bakes? Why, Paul Hollywood, of course. 

We're thankful Jürgen produces enough good work on this episode to stay another week, and the moment leading up to that is worth the stressful watch. 

3. Collection 10, Episode 2 - Biscuit Week

If you'd like to see fresh faces, why not try the newest collection of "The Great British Bake Off"? Watch the first episode, or course, but certainly don't skip over the second. This season also includes more cultural representation amongst contestants than in most other seasons of the show, and it's nice to see how each brings their favorite, unique flavors to incorporate into their bakes.

What makes this episode of the show stand out is the young ages of some of the bakers and what they're able to achieve in the tent. Maisam ends up leaving the tent, though, given the fact that she's only 18 and a student, it's quite an impressive thing she's made it into the show to begin with. Baker Maxy wins star baker, incorporating Scandinavian flavors like saffron and cinnamon into her creations, we are reminded via Movie Web. If you've been nostalgic about "The Great British Bake Off" and have tirelessly watched the same episodes over and over again, the new season has got your back and will provide you with all your witty, heartfelt, and surprising baking competition show needs. 

2. Collection 9, Episode 6 - Pastry Week

What doesn't stand out about another "Pastry Week" episode on "The Great British Bake Off?" What will keep your eyes peeled to this week's challenges is that all three prove to be difficult at a similar level, based on the amount of struggle we see the bakers go through. And although it's nice to admire their hard work from afar, we've assessed that it might be nicer to remain on the viewer side of things for this one. 

Chouxnuts are their signature bake challenge, known as a combination of fried doughnuts and choux pastry. For the technical challenge, bakers make baklava, and the showstopper is a terrine pie, made carefully in detail and precision around the dough, we recall via Telly Visions. And each brings a unique flavor to their terrine pies. 

Baker and champion by the end of the season, Crystelle Pereira, earns a handshake from Paul for her showstopper terrine pie, as he later admits in the episode, "I don't like giving handshakes." If you're a consistent viewer of the show, you'll know he rarely gives handshakes for showstopper challenges specifically. Watch this episode if you enjoy learning tips about bakes you most likely haven't heard about before, and if you'd like to see Paul Hollywood accept defeat because he knows he's been faced with an unarguably great bake from Crystelle. 

1. Collection 6, Episode 5 - Spice Week

This episode made it to our list because it involves a mystery: One of the judges is missing. Prue Leith, most recognizable on the show as the judge with a Mrs.Frizzle fashion sense, is out due to feeling under the weather, and leaves Paul to judge the showstopper challenge on his own. Host Noel humorously deems this as "bad cop, bad cop," behavior, recalls Radio Times. And he's not entirely wrong, as Paul replies with a blunt "no" when hosts Sandi and Noel playfully ask if they may have a say in this week's win for star baker. 

This also marks "The Great British Bake Off's" very first ever "Spice Week" category on the show. For the signature bake, contestants make a ginger cake; one that should be enough for a family to enjoy at tea time. The following challenge includes baking a couple of batches of maamoul, and a biscuit chandelier is the showstopper. All are spice-forward, with ingredients like ginger being prominent (via IMDB).

Later on in this episode, we get a sweet moment from Paul admitting to his hosts that "I missed Prue, actually, today." With a double elimination to raise the stakes of this episode, (due to one baker named Terry getting sick and missing the previous episode) this segment of the show will have you on the edge of your seat. Baker Kim-Joy Hewlett ends up winning star baker, and Paul's reign as the sole judge comes to an end.