Seasons change, flowers bloom and fade, but The Great British Bake Off remains its same bountiful self – for now at least.
But even the hallowed tent needs a spring clean every now and again, and that’s what we got this week on BBC1. A brand new theme, ‘Botanical Week’, which as far as we could gather meant all things bright, herby, citrusy and flower/floury.
“Whatever grows goes”, the saying went – but what went on in The Great British Botany? Check out all the action with our Bake Off recap here.
9.01pm Tom’s posh cinema snacks may have won the day, but we only had eyes for the wonderful Bake Off double act this week. No, not Mel and Sue. Benjamina and Selasi. #Benjalasi: what the world needs after Brangelina…
8.58pm Rav leaves the Bake Off tent. He ends with a smile; not quite the über exit speech of Val, but another wonderful contestant. The series may not have quite hit the heights baking-wise yet, but every exit feels more poignant.
8.57pm Right, here we go. Star Baker prize goes to… TOM. Mr T edges out Selasi’s super floral showstopper.
8.55pm Andrew has the petrified face of a condemned man. Meanwhile, it’s almost as if Selasi knew he didn’t have to bother getting his technical in the oven on time. With a showstopper like that, he’s never in trouble.
8.49pm See what we said at the start about bakers no longer feeling like they have to underplay their skills? Selasi, serious piping skills.
8.46pm “Listen, you might just have to slightly speed up.” Seven series, and Mel has this Bake Off Support Group down to a T. Think Rav may need some emergency hand holding too…
8.41pm That said, her top layer using her Nan’s boiled cake recipe is a lovely idea. Her last autobiobakeiphal bake (yes, it’s a word now) was her gingerbread pub, and that got her top spot. We’re almost convinced…
8.40pm They ask for three tiers, Candice comes back with four. Oh Candice…
8.36pm Three tier floral cakes. They’ve basically copied former Bake Off winner Frances’s wedding cake for a showstopper challenge haven’t they?
8.34pm All that waiting didn’t help Selasi. Candice drops away after last week’s Star Bake. Meanwhile, Tom the walking Waitrose advert Gillford comes top.
8.30pm Hey, made you a new “waiting” gif. You’re welcome, internet.
8.27pm Still deeply unnerved by Tom’s other therapy revelation. “Fougasse is my cinema snack.” It’s a crowded field, but that’s probably the most middle class thing anyone’s said in the Bake Off tent.
8.24pm Tom going through Bake Off therapy. “Bread makes me happy and comfortable.” It’s amazing what you’ll tell a camera when you’re in knead.
8.22pm “The whimsical yet maniacal Uncle Paul”. Oh Mel, if you only knew.
8.18pm THIS is everything.
8.17pm Selasi and Benjamina? Yep, you spotted it too…
8.17pm This is really not going to end well… Have you not heard Bezza whispering to Paul?
8.13pm “They’re nearly all using blowtorch, and to me meringue topping is best put in the oven.” Mary as we know has a fierce distrust of blowtorches, the kind of modern fad that makes a mockery of ‘amateur’ cooking. This, while watching bakers slide dough into electronically precise proving drawers and whipping up egg yolks in mixers worth hundreds of pounds. Yep, completely amateur.
8.12pm Two grapefruit pies, two lime and coconut pies. No conferring!
8.10pm Rav once again plumping for a classic Bake Off tactic: make everyone in the tent too drunk to remember how anything tastes…
8.08pm “Paul should have worn a floral shirt” says Selasi. No, he really shouldn’t….
Instead, Paul is in typical black, his mourning weeds for the final series on BBC1. The ghost at the feast?
8.06pm Sure, Jane’s blouse is certainly Berry bright and beautiful, but Mary only has eyes for Selasi’s special floral shirt to be honest…
8.05pm Right, so what exactly is Botanical about a meringue pie?
8.04pm Ah, the great British summer – see-through brollies, dripping tents and soggy Bake Off contestants.
8.01pm Which one’s ‘Flaky’, Sue?
7.54pm The best thing about getting past the half-way point is the remaining bakers all slowly start to realise that they deserve to be here. The ones who have been winging it all along become even more desperate, while the ones who were sweet and self deprecatory at the start lose the act…
7.45pm Pre-show favourites? Surely green-fingered Jane the garden designer?
7.34pm It’s like Bake Off’s bleeding into everything on the BBC. I’m almost certain the plinky plonky strings in this railways doc is the same music in Bake Off…
7.32pm Quick tease for tonight’s episode: Sue P basically accuses Selasi of stalking Benjamina. Such fun.
7.25pm Watching The One Show before Bake Off? Lord ‘Apprentice’ Sugar is on – the same Lord Sugar who earlier this week told Radio Times that Bake Off’s move to Channel 4 will be a “total disaster”. Nothing like buttering up the competition…
7.14 Less than an hour to go until The Great Botany Bake Off. Got your ‘erbs ready?
5.35pm Bake Off Fashion Watch: presumably to celebrate Botanical Week, there are some super floral patterns on show in tonight’s episode. Selasi, Jane, we salute you.
3.35pm RT’s TV editor Alison Graham, meanwhile, is feeling desperately nostalgic. Read her farewell to soggy bottoms in full here.
“The whole debacle is unprecedented. A show that won more than 15 million viewers for its final last year, the most-watched television programme of 2015, has slipped away from the BBC even as its seventh series is on air. Thus the remaining five episodes are now freighted with sadness as we realise what we’re about to lose.”
3.30pm Back to the present – which bakers are left ahead of tonight’s episode?
3pm ‘LAST TIME… ON THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF’. Normally I don’t go in for all that heavy-handed hypery, but this week I’m making an exception. For you, dearly departed Val, are truly exceptional.
For years now we’ve been re-writing Bake Off’s ‘secret’ recipe, trying to work out why it does better than anything else on TV. Now, with the show moving to Channel 4, we’ve started doing it all over again – but it’s simple really.
Most of the time it’s light, fluffy, deliciously inconsequential. Which means when, just occasionally, bakers get teary-eyed, we listen. We saw it with Nadiya when she won last year, and we saw it wth Val last week. A few tears, a lot of heart, and a Mel and Sue sandwich. Now, soppy recap over, what sweet treats should we expect in Botanical Week?