It’s Week 9, the semi-final, the penultimate episode hosted by our beloved Beeb. Apparently, this was the first episode filmed AFTER the shock that caused the nation to cry out in sadness and in anger, and revealed our slightly unhealthy passion for cake. Paul’s aggressive slicing of a delicate fondant fancy was like a metaphor for the unexpected and traumatic divorce of the GBBO family. Were tensions running high behind the scenes? Did Mary praise Paul’s ‘perfect’ savarin through gritted dentures? Was Sue’s emblazonment of the word ‘happy’ on her jacket a subtle, yet characteristically sarcastic message to viewers on her departure?
As the bakers continue on their floury plight towards the final, we are left with the crème de la crème de patissiere. The first task is to present two types of savoury palmier. If, like me, you were unaware of such a thing, it looks like a filled pastry twisted into a pattern, with lots of ‘laaaiirs.’ Selasi begins by advising us that the key to a perfect puff pastry is in the chilling. And chilling, Selasi, is why we love you. The king of cool baking. Keep calm and Selasi, they might say. Such was the level of relaxation however, that he only went and dropped half his palmiers on their way out of the oven.
He’s not the only one with a touch of the butterfingers; the nation gasped as Jane also lost a few of her puffy hand pastries to the oven door. Candice’s caramelised onion creations are a success, despite having the appearance of being dropped in a muddy puddle. Andrew however, following THOSE jousting sticks of last week and despite having an absolute ‘ruddy disaster’, wins the day with his slightly pretentious chest of drawer pastries. Prop game is high this series.
On to the technical, where Paul provides a hugely insightful opening tip for the eager bakers: it’s the semi-final, so it’s got to look, and taste, good. I wonder how long that one took to think up. The silver haired don of the tent this week requested a boozy savarin, perfectly decorated with cream in the height of summer. Some drippage occurrs, but is forgiven. Selasi shows an increasing amount of concern, but proves his absolute genius as he decorates his savarin IN the freezer. In an unfortunate slapdash mix up, however, Selasi’s orange membrane is not removed which causes him to place fourth in the technical. Candice comes third and Andrew, who has removed his membrane, second. Jane, despite a fierce battle with some crystallising caramel, scores first place.
The showstopper task brought us the dainty fondant fancy. This time it’s Candice with fondant on her fingers as she drops one decorated cake on top of another, causing a right ruddy mess. Jane proves herself once again to be the most relatable baker in the land as she presents her trusty potato masher as a tool to dunk the cake in the icing. This does result in an unfortunately crumby exterior, but her sponge is nevertheless a success. Selasi gets a telling off from Mary for chucking in the flour without sieving, classic Selasi, and restarts his luminous pink sponge. This turns out a success though his icing is, unlike himself, too sweet. Andrew is on a musical theme this week as he presents a simple yet beautiful choral formation of fancies, which impresses Mazza B no end.
As the once happy bake off family sit round the table and discuss the events of the weekend, sadness fills our hearts like the discovery of a soggy bottom. Andrew’s face belies utter shock as he wins star baker, despite having cleaned up on each of the weekend’s tasks. Perhaps a surprise to no-one, though still utterly heart-breaking was the departure of Selasi. Thankyou for your provision of chill life goals. Mary said no one was more sad than herself to see him go, but Mary, the nation mourns with you.