Great British Bake Blog: Episode Nine

There was a surprising lack of innuendos in this week’s episode of The Great British Bake Off. Perhaps patisserie isn’t very sexy. Or, far more likely, Noel was asked not to mention what Prue’s necklace really looked like. I was given the same instructions.

Still, it’s a distraction from the sadness that many of us still feel over Liam’s departure last week. His presence in the tent was sorely missed. But in a surprising turn of events, Sophie stole the show with her humour, a cool, calm and collected confidence and the science facts that have been absent since Yan left. I knew she was awesome – she’s a trainee stuntwoman, that’s badass. But I can’t help but feel she has been overlooked these past few weeks.  

Stacey, meanwhile, continued to flap. By this stage it’s boring to watch. In the signature, the bakers were tasked with creating 24 filled choux buns, half with icing and half with craquelin (yet another word I had to work out how to spell - and by work out I mean ask BB editor Vince).

Stacey made choux-nicorns and choux-mojis, but failed to get them all on her presentation stand in time, and the ones that made it there were rather messy. She seemed even more embarrassed when Prue said her craquelin looked like curry. Still, at least they tasted good even if you did have to eat them with your eyes closed. Steven suffered similar problems, but at least he can’t be criticised for a style over substance as Paul declared his Bakewell choux buns “bloody gorgeous”.

Kate’s were uniform and delicious. She also sparked a surge in searches for prosecco flavouring after using it in her Bellini buns. Personally, what’s the point in the flavour without the sweet hit of the booze? But maybe it’s tricky to bake with the additional liquid… I don’t know.

Sophie’s choux fell a bit flat and the lack of promised chestnut flavour left the judges disappointed. Nothing could stop her in the technical, though, as the contestants were asked to create nine Les Misérables slices. She nailed it. Prue even went as far to describe her creations as “perfect”. That’s incredibly high praise, particularly as this was described as the most complicated technical ever.

Despite her slices looking a mess, Stacey secured second place, followed by Steven and Kate whose slices were described as “hardly elegant”. Ouch! But when there’s only four bakers left in the tent, even the tiniest slip up is enough to send someone tumbling to the bottom of the pile.

If the bakers thought the technical was hard, they were in for a shock with the showstopper, even though they’ve had time to practise. Creating a meringue centrepiece, with two types of meringue and dessert elements, is definitely as hard as it looks.

Viewers were treated to a perhaps Bake Off’s most colourful showstopper ever, with a rainbow, a ballet tutu, a hot air balloon and two flamingos. Fun fact: a group of flamingos is called a flamboyance. Not quite as fun as a grumble of pugs though.

Despite the bodice of her tutu breaking in half, Sophie pulled herself away from the pack with her beautiful meringue and well-baked opera cake - so much so, she was awarded Star Baker.

Kate wasn’t far behind with her rainbow, complete with loads of adornments. It was certainly colourful. Although apparently the rainbow tastes like sweets. Clearly, Skittles’ marketing campaign is bang on the money.

For the first time this season, I genuinely felt sorry for Steven. Things did not go to plan. The heat in the tent melted his balloon’s chocolate basket, his meringue was under-baked and cracked under the pressure of the assembly process (although the way the camera was constantly focusing on it, I thought it was going to crumble entirely). Regardless, the flavours tasted amazing according to the judges, but the method was not up to the usual Steven standard.

Stacey’s was also below par. Not due to anything in particular, it looked like two flamingos and had good flavour, according to Prue and Paul, but they felt it was a touch on the simplistic side.

The decision to send either Stacey or Steven home was apparently the hardest one Paul has had to make during eight years on Bake Off. Wasn’t it obvious? Sure, Steven’s bake was sub-par this week, but Stacey has repeatedly been middle of the pack or in contention to go home and even left parchment in one creation. Steven, meanwhile, has repeatedly been Star Baker. Luckily, common sense won out and Stacey was finally sent home.

The question, now, is: who will win? Steven, Kate or Sophie? I’d love to see Sophie win, but I have a sneaking suspicion Steven might just clinch it.

Here’s my thoughts on this week’s episode:

Most likely to win: Steven

Who should have been sent home: Stacey

Most fun to watch: Sophie

Quote of the week: “They’re not going to look like real unicorns” – Stacey

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