Going into this episode we knew two bakers were going home – knowledge that would have sent nerve levels soaring, as any little slip-up could cost you your chance of appearing in the quarter-final.
The first challenge was signature buns, a fairly wide brief covering everything from the very popular Chelsea buns (which most of the bakers opted for) to lardy cakes (made by daredevil Ryan).
Sarah-Jane started the episode with a lot to prove – a feeling that can seriously affect how you perform on the show. If you have a dodgy week, coming back and nailing the first challenge is the mental boost you really need, but failing again is a terrible blow to your confidence.
Danny had great success, earning top praise from Mary who declared her buns were a joy to eat, and Ryan even got a handshake from Paul thanks to his excellent lardy cakes. The only other baker to get positive feedback was the ever-consistent Brendan, whose buns were – unsurprisingly – very good.
But Sarah-Jane, James and John all suffered poor rounds, with their efforts failing to reach the lofty expectations of Paul and Mary. These three now needed excellent rounds to stay in the competition.
The technical challenge was everyone’s favourite – the classic jam doughnut. The only baker to have ever made them before was James, leaving the field wide open. And the results, as always in the technical challenge, were very varied…
Sarah-Jane came bottom with Ryan also falling behind, leaving them both dangerously close to leaving the competition. Coming second and topping off a great week was Danny, but it was James who managed to redeem himself by finishing top of the class for this challenge.
The showstopper was a celebration loaf (or in non-baker speak, something similar to a stollen or brioche). Watching the show it is easy to criticise what looks like a silly mistake, but what you need to understand is that cooking competitively whilst being filmed is surprisingly stressful. You have producers asking questions constantly which often diverts your attention: this isn’t like baking in your home kitchen.
Ryan and Sarah-Jane sealed their fate with poor final bakes, and they left the competition. John’s downward trend continued as he had another lucky escape after a poor week. But Danny topped off a brilliant episode by being named star baker – she’s one to watch and definitely someone I’m tipping to reach the final.
Edd Kimber’s first book The Boy Who Bakes is out now, with his second – Say It With Cake – to be released on 25 October.