The final four very nervously stepped into the tent of dreams on Wednesday night for the semi-final of the 6th series of Bake Off. With three huge challenges ahead, who would be the one sent home at the worst point possible in the competition? The baking community watched nervously and impatiently waited for the results to be announced…that hour felt like it was two hours long!
For semi-finals week, Paul and Mary decided on chocolate as the subject matter to test the bakers – and it proved to be trickier for some more than others. Going into the semi-finals, all except Flora had been awarded a Star Baker, which is exactly what happened to me. I felt huge pressure going into my semi-finals – I just remember thinking that I needed to win star baker or I’d be sent home!
The signature challenge sounded simpler than it was – a chocolate tart, but the addition of cocoa powder to pastry is tricky. The bakers had to also create a filling and decorations using chocolate, something Flora always attempts to do in abundance, but I was just hoping that for once she would stick to the brief…
All the tarts looked fab, with Nadiya’s peanut butter and chocolate combination making my mouth water as well as Tamal’s chocolate and raspberry tart – both using classic chocolate combinations that proved to be the best idea. Although Flora’s fillings of chocolate and passion fruit sounded delicious, sadly her passion fruit layer split and her macarons were over baked. Ian’s bay caramel and chocolate tart was technically very good with crisp pastry, but the caramel wasn’t a hit.
The technical was a classic chocolate soufflé, what could possibly go wrong? The bakers were asked to start at different times, meaning their souffles would be tasted at different times. This was going to be a great challenge and will either help or hinder the bakers going into the showstopper. This challenge was set in one of the first series of Bake Off, and if the bakers had done their research then they would have known this and probably not expected it to come up again! What surprised me during this challenge was how some of the bakers didn’t know how to make crème patisserie, surely this is a baking basic and should be ingrained on the bakers’ brains going into the tent?
Flora was first up and was probably the most stressed and Nadiya was the most calm; but Flora came top of the heap with Nadiya 4th, meaning it was all up for grabs going into the showstopper. It was horrible seeing how upset Nadiya was after the technical, I just wanted to hug her and tell her that everything was going to be ok.
The chocolate showstopper that would decide which three bakers were going through to the final was a chocolate sculpture centrepiece, with each of the bakers interpreting the brief differently. They had four hours to create something that obviously used chocolate in abundance, including white chocolate, a biscuit of some kind and plenty of decorations using tempered chocolate. All four bakers baked their chocolate covered socks off. Baking and creating decorations with chocolate is so temperamental, and attempting to do so in the tent and under the pressure of cameras in the semi-finals is tough.
The semi-final star baker accolade went to Nadiya. Her signature (which received a Hollywood Handshake) and showstopper overshadowed her bottom place technical, which also meant a golden ticket through to the finals. Well done Nadiya! And who would be leaving the tent in 4th position? Sadly, it was Flora’s time to go. Well done to you too – it’s not easy leaving during the semis, but you’ll be fine!
Next week it’s the final….so who’s your money on then?