With just four contestants remaining, the Great British Bake Off tent was all aflutter with chewy meringue, creamy mousse and French-sounding fancies for Patisserie week.
For the semi-final signature challenge, our girl Stacey, alongside Sophie, Kate and Steven were asked to whip up 24 choux buns in just two-and-a-half hours – with perfect craquelin, no less.
Rather than being the crunchy part of a very non-kosher animal, craquelin is the posh way of saying “the sugary bits on top”.
Stacey, not one to do things by half, decided to set herself the complex challenge of making “chou-nicorns” – a homage to mythical creatures with multi-coloured crème patisserie – and “choux-mojis” – inspired by winking and smiling emoji faces, filled with banoffee cream.
She began by promising they would “look the nuts”, but before we’d even reached half-way the pressure was clearly getting to Stacey.
“I keep doing things wrong”, she lamented to presenter Noel Fielding, before incorrectly starting on the glazing, rather than doing her filling.
We then learnt about her burnt bottoms. Just when we thought things couldn’t any worse, Stacey even struggled to stack her choux-nicorns onto the cake stand in time.
Perhaps the judges would be more kindly towards her efforts. “It’s very, very sweet”, declared Prue of her creation. Paul opted for a more direct approach.
“It’s sickly,” he said without a smile, before pointing out her burnt bottom. As for the craquelin, Prue was simply scathing. “It looks like curry.”
As the first challenge came to an end, clearly nobody wanted to be in Stacey’s chouxs.
And so it was onwards to the technical challenge, the most complicated ever set for GBBO – nine Les Miserables slices in three hours.
It was fair to say no-one had a Scooby doo what this was, but it involved making a traditional Belgian cake with four layers of joconde sponge, including two pistachio ones, three layers of crème au beurre and tempered chocolate. Simples then.
Stacey, never one to do subtle, opted to make her pistachio layers the colour of the Incredible Hulk, even though Prue had hinted the dessert should be “delicate”. Still, Stacey made a valiant effort and was named a respectable second behind Kate.
With the judges still scratching their heads over who would exit this week, it was time for the Showstopper challenge – a sculptural centrepiece made from meringue, made in four hours and 45 minutes.
For this baking feat, Stacey opted for “flamingos in love” featuring raspberry mousse and vanilla panna cotta.
All seemed to be going well, until the Radlett baking enthusiast attempted to free some cooled white chocolate from their moulds.
Slamming it down, the mould slid across the counter and almost knocked her baked flamingo necks over the edge. It was a heart-stopping moment, but thankfully the damage was slight.
While she turned out a nice looking pair of love birds, the proof as they say, is in the pudding.
“I hope it tastes as good as it looks,” said Paul, clearly trying to jinx things. Prue shook her head as she bit into the meringue. “It’s just too soft and sticky.”
Paul even used the word “tart” at one point and we knew he wasn’t referring to a crusty pastry.
Despite having more cracks than a house with subsidence, Sophie’s meringue tutu impressed the judges and confirmed her place as this week’s star baker.
For Stacey however, nine weeks into the show and so close to reaching the finals, the time had sadly come to hang up her whisk and put away her rolling pin.