I like to challenge myself. How many biscuits can I eat in one sitting? How long can I sleep for at the weekends? Can I watch Bake Off in the office without crying?
Turns out the answers are: an entire pack, a good 10 hours and not really. I teared up the second Kim-Joy got remotely emotional during this week’s semi-final. It was hard to watch. Particularly as it’s down to the final four – Kim-Joy, Briony, Ruby and Rahul – meaning every little thing counts.
And, if that were not enough pressure, the bakers were tasked with making high-end patisserie items. Y’know, just something nice and simple. First up were two varieties of madeleines, 12 of each.
It was all about the hump. “Not much of a hump”, “the hump is too big”, “you’ll get the hump” are just a few of the things uttered. The repetitiveness admittedly killed the humour, but Rahul’s cluelessness was glorious. “Can I ask you something? Why are people laughing about hump?”
Paul, meanwhile, seemed unhappy that the bakers were reaching for the helping hand of baking soda to achieve peak hump. Maybe he should have given them more than an hour-and-a-half then?
Ruby’s flavours, which included raspberry & lemon, were fantastic, even if the overall look was a bit of a mess. Rahul’s were declared triumphant, particularly his orange curd and dark chocolate creations. Briony’s mojito and espresso martini madeleines let her down on flavour as did Kim-Joy’s ginger and lemon ones. Thankfully, her orange bunny ones were adorable and delicious.
On the menu for the technical was a torta settevli – a seven-layered cake consisting of a Genoese sponge, hazelnut bavarois, hazelnut praline, a chocolate mousse and a mirror glaze.
“We are asking the near impossible,” said Paul (he was basically a panto villain this week).
The mousse was the tipping point for Kim-Joy. “That’s all wrong,” she said, “I think it’s time for me to go home.” Noel was quick to comfort her. Honestly, I think the entire nation needed a hug.
Thankfully she persevered and secured a solid second place in the technical. It was poor Rahul who came last, followed by Briony with a mirror glaze that Paul likened to “incontinence pants”. Oh dear. Ruby came top.
For the showstopper the final four were tasked with making 36 patisseries using three types of pastry, including choux and mille-feuille. It was knackering to watch – let alone undertake – the gruelling five-hour challenge. Particularly as not everything went to plan.
Briony’s puff pastry – full puff, not rough puff like the others made – was basically raw in the middle of her coffee and walnut mille-feuille, and the pastry on her Black Forest-inspired tart too thick. If that were not bad enough, it seems she may have got the salt and sugar mixed up during the baking as Paul said her red choux buns were very salty.
There were imperfections all round. Rahul delivered the goods when it came to flavour, but his lemon and blueberry mille-feuille were a mess. As were his chocolate caramel éclairs. And, should you ever present a fruit tart to Paul Hollywood, make sure the fruit is glazed!
Ruby also fell victim to unglazed fruit, but the pastry on her lemon verbena tart was acceptable, her chocolate and hazelnut choux creation delicious and her strawberry & mint mille-feuille well baked, if a little on the large side.
Kim-Joy’s creations were also rather chunky and the pastry on her lemon & blueberry mille-feuille could have done with a bit more time in the oven. Her religieuses, or nun choux buns, were tasty, but Paul wasn’t keen on the craquelin.
If it was tight going into the showstopper, things weren’t getting much easier for the judges.
Alas, someone had to go home and that person was Briony. Ruby, meanwhile, got star baker for the second week in a row. Whether her lucky streak continues going into the final against Rahul and Kim-Joy remains to be seen.
Here are a few titbits based on this week’s episode:
Most likely to win: Kim-Joy
Who should have gone home: Briony
Most fun to watch: Kim-Joy
Quote of the week: “Not long left and I’ve got 12 bunnies to pipe” – Kim-Joy