UKE Baking Expert, Sophie Johnson gives us the latest from the week’s GBBO!

Four fabulous bakers with their fingers firmly crossed on The Great British Bake Off.

Ooh lala, a splendid semi-final with a French flavour….. patisserie week, mon ami.

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Perfectly puffed pastry filled with savoury delights.

This weeks Signature bake had us at Bonjour, 24 palmiers.

Two flavours, filled and baked. C’est parfait! Andrew went plain with his flour, nearly crumbling under the pressure. With dry dough a no-no, he quickly made his pastry part deux. Despite initial disbelief on Mary’s face due to his herby breadcrumb filling (mixing dry with dry? Why Andrew, why?) His goats cheese and roasted red pepper flavours impressed Paul, with beautiful colour and lots of layers. Jane got jiggy with her bend and bake, peering into the oven with trepidation. Would her floral fiesta of sundried tomato and pesto be ready on time? It seems the favours were there but the bottoms were soggy, time to perfect her aerobics routine. Candice got lippy with Mel as she puffed her pastry. Roll, chill, fold, repeat. Unfortunately her super sized spirals were more palm-sized than palmier, but her beautiful breakfast bakes filled with moreish mushroom and parma ham made Mary smile, even Paul enjoyed tasting ‘the best in a long time.’ Smooth talking Selasi was all about the baking banter, taking the words from Sue’s mouth as the time ticked away. Although the time was on his mind it wasn’t in his favour and his salmon, spinach and mushroom curls were underdone and shapeless, whilst his Balearic butterflies of sun-dried tomato, onion, pepper and Parmesan were as raw as can be. Perhaps they needed longer in the cocoon!

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Chocolate and cinnamon, caramel and cream. Fruity and boozy, it tastes like a dream.

This weeks technical set by Mr Hollywood himself was worthy of star on the walk of fame. A yeasted cake full of flavour, our bakers faced a Savarin. Moist all the way through with an orange liquor syrup as sweet as Candice, the key to this beauty was in the proving. Melted butter or all in one? Selasi worked up a sweat with his mixing by hand, leaving a very lucky Sue to wipe his brow. “Make the syrup. Full stop” His confused face said it all. As the quirky cakes baked the temperatures rose, making the chocolate discs and piped lettering melt faster than the polar ice caps. Fruit was frisked and piled high, amongst crème anglaise and caramel shards. Despite her crystallised caramel, Jane came in first place with a cake of a perfect colour, a crowning glory. Andrew’s beautiful decoration saw him reach second place, and although her syrup didn’t reach the middle, Candice did, leaving a scared Selasi in last place with an inconsistent bake and a disastrous décor.

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Squares of sponge, a beautiful buttercream, fiddly fondant, how fancy! Yes, a perfect showstopper for a semi-final… Mr Kipling who? It was time for 36 fabulous fondant fancies.

Smooth, shiny and splendid. ‘Sheer perfection’ Andrew went musical with his mocha miniatures, chocolate and coffee all wrapped up in a bow(tie). Trying to keep things classical with a Victoria sponge inspired flavour his orchestra oozed with too much jam. More mess than Mozart. Selasi sparkled with his pastel pink Prosecco beauties, but the flavour just wasn’t there for Mary and we all know she loves a cheeky tipple! His dainty lime and ginger fancies were a little too small, and his tangy citrus with white chocolate was sweeter than his smile. It wasn’t looking good for our favourite fella. Jane’s messy pink hearts hid a beauty within, gloriously green pistachio sponge with raspberry curd and a fruity fondant. She impressed the nation with her dipping technique. Who’d have thought a potato scoop could come in so handy? Candice excited with perfect praline and a chocolate Genoese, there was ‘Nowt wrong with that’! Her cherry bakewell inspired almond squares were soft and neat ‘clever girl’. They may not have looked brilliant but they sure did tickle Paul’s (fondant) fancy.

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Perfect palmiers, dainty decoration and a musical masterpiece saw cute little Andrew float on icing sugar clouds as he was crowned Star Baker of semi-finals week.

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Sadly, the hearts of women everywhere crumbled just like Jane’s fiddly fondants as sexy Selasi was sent home.

Take us with you!

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Next week it’s the final.

Will it be clever Candice who wows the crowds? Or perhaps amazing Andrew who will bake and delight. Maybe joyful Jane with her green fingers will grow a winner. Who’s team are you on?

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Sophie Johnson, 28, Proud mummy of Bea, 4, Expert Baker, loves all things cake, UKE’s resident baker.

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