Stacey Hart has narrowly missed out on a place in The Great British Bake Off 2017 final after patisserie week saw judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith face one of the show’s toughest decisions ever.
The latest series of the Channel 4 contest is getting down to the wire, with viewers left devastated when fan-favourite Liam was eliminated last week.
Just four contestants – Kate, Sophie, Stacey and Steven – remained for tonight’s semi-final, which featured three patisserie-themed challenges.
For the Signature, each baker had to create 24 choux buns, featuring two different flavours. Half had to be iced, and half had to be covered in ‘craquelin’, a thin dough that gives choux pastry a crunchy top.
Perfect craquelin requires precision, as it bakes quicker than the pastry.
Kate got it right, with Paul describing her craquelin as “unbelievable” – while Steven was told his was “too thick”, resulting in “untidy and burnt” pastry.
Sophie didn’t quite get the balance of flavours right in her “underbaked” buns, but it was Stacey who faced the worst criticism.
The former teacher’s ‘Choux-moji’ and ‘Choux-nicorns’ were blasted as “a mess” and “very sickly”. “Not your finest hour,” said Paul.
Next came what host Noel Fielding described as “the most complicated recipe ever set” for a Technical challenge: ‘Les Miserables’ slices.
The traditional Belgian cake consists of pistachio and lemon joconde sponge, creme au beurre (French buttercream), and tempered chocolate decoration.
Kate went from top marks for her Signature to bottom of Prue and Paul’s ranking for her “highly untidy” slices.
Stacey beat out Steven for 2nd place because her “sponge was better”, while Sophie’s “very beautiful” efforts put her in first.
For their Showstoppers, the contestants had to sculpt meringue centrepieces, featuring two different types of meringue – French, Swiss or Italian.
Sophie won praise again, with Paul commenting: “If you’d done your ganache a little thinner it would have been 10 out of 10.”
Both judges were impressed by Kate’s rainbow design, although Paul thought it bordered on “childish”. “It freaks me out a little,” he mused.
Stacey’s flamingo sculpture was described as “simplistic” by Paul, while Prue commented: “It’s too sweet and sticky, you can only bear a little bit.”
Meanwhile, Steven had a mishap when his meringue cracked during assembly. Paul marked him down on execution, saying: “I just think the way you’ve done it, is not up to normal Steven standards.”
Sophie ended up taking this week’s Star Baker title, but the looming final dampened her excitement.
“It’s now all about the final, so what happened today kind of doesn’t mean anything anymore,” she explained. “It’s all about next week.”
However, with the other three bakers all having suffered bad rounds, the judges faced a dilemma deciding which of them should go home.
Paul – the only remaining original judge – described it as “the hardest decision I’ve been involved with in eight years of the Bake Off”.
Stacey was then informed she wouldn’t be advancing to the final. “I’m pleased I’ve gone out on a high, it was a really difficult decision for them,” she reacted.
Kate, Sophie and Steven go head-to-head in the grand final of The Great British Bake Off 2017 next Tuesday at 8.00pm on Channel 4.