The pressure of filming makes it hard to keep your mind in the right place and it’s very easy to get anxious and lose focus. No one seems capable of performing perfectly throughout the entire show - I had a terrible week on puddings and it seemed John, who has previously been on top form, stumbled a little in this episode too.
He appeared very worried about his baking and ended up making little mistakes such as seizing his ganache. Thankfully his flavours managed to keep him safe for another week leaving the focus of Paul and Mary's criticism to fall on Stuart. It does, however, show you that it really is a week-by-week show; you can do perfectly one week and be gone the next.
Stuart clearly went into dessert week wanting to show what he can do. He pushed himself and made an impressive-sounding Black Forest Torte, but sadly it didn't live up to expectations.
Of the finished tortes the one that did catch my attention was Ryan’s Parisian-inspired Green Tea Opera which he managed to complete despite appearing flustered and panicked throughout the entire challenge. Brendan made an interesting Chestnut, Orange and Lemon Verbena Torte and, whilst it looked like something from my mum’s 70s cookbooks, the flavours sounded wonderful.
The technical challenge was the deceptive crème caramel – not something hugely challenging, but like anything unknown with no instructions, it is, of course, more difficult.
The technical challenge is never revealed until you are about to start baking, but when I filmed series one we did manage to get little clues every now and then. During dessert week we happened to see the soufflé moulds being set up and receiving those small hints came with a sense of relief and gave us some time to get our heads in the right place.
It can be surprisingly daunting when you're handed unknown tasks in the tent – being something of a retro week, it was perfectly apt that Brendan came top, but it’s no surprise to me that some of the other crème caramels were a disaster.
Unfortunately the mishaps came from Manisha and Stuart whose caramels collapsed, resembling a clumsy pile of custard. Performing badly in the first two challenges instantly marked Stuart out and he would have to pull off something brilliant in the final challenge to stay in the competition.
The showstopper was a layered meringue dessert and the resulting bakes were hugely varied. Making meringues in that tent can be oddly difficult as it is open to the elements which can cause problems when it's humid – I remember when we made mini meringues in series one, most people's attempts had started to melt by the time the judges came to try them! Thankfully this year humidity doesn't look like a problem thanks to our miserable British summer...
Brendan pulled out another slightly retro-looking dessert, but it helped confirm his choice as this week’s star baker. I loved the look of Stuart’s meringue but sadly the judges disagreed, sealing his fate.