Any fan of The Great British Bake Off worth their salt knows that things get real by the time we roll around to pastry week – and last night’s episode definitely separated the flaky (see what we did there?) from the great. For one and a bit glorious hours, we stared at an array of delicious savoury pies, blackened custard tarts, the newly patented ‘Prue Pat’, pie-tin traitors and, of course, one or two depressingly soggy bottoms.
Then, of course, there was the showstopper round. Which was… well, it was controversial, to say the least.
First, the good bits: wonderful Liam wowed with his nan Cynthia’s tried-and-tested curried goat recipe – and won the Star Baker accolade we’d all been hoping for ever since we saw his crushed face when he missed out in caramel week.
Yan, similarly, left us salivating on our sofas with a ridiculously good-looking pie – but we loved her for more than her food. This week, you see, we were all about her infectious warmth.
Not once, but twice did we see her step away from her own counter to help out her fellow contestants, and it was this good-heartedness that had us all clamouring for the scientist to be kept in the show right up until the GBBO finale.
Sandi Toksvig may have come in on the back foot (having been half of the replacement for firm favourites, Mel and Sue), but she truly shone last night when she a) whisked us away to Lisbon for a history lesson and b) let her emotions get the better of her when it came to announcing which contestant had been eliminated from the big white tent.
But, on the subject of that elimination, viewers were not happy. At all.
We’ll start off by pointing out that Julia – who sparked innuendos all over the country with her “penis snail” a few weeks back – did not have a good week. In fact, this year’s second-youngest baker flopped in all three rounds: her signature savoury pies were overstuffed with paprika, she over-whisked her eggs in the technical, and her underdone pastry earned her the less-than-glowing “sad and untidy” critique every baker fears.
So, no, Julia wasn’t all that surprised when Sandi – endearingly choking back a sob – called her name come the end of the show.
Viewers at home, on the other hand, weren’t just surprised – they were positively incandescent with rage.
Why? Because, in their hearts, there was another contestant who deserved to get the boot: Stacey had also struggled with her pastry, you see. She botched her tarts, she tripped over a bin very noisily indeed and her love-themed pies received a less-than-lukewarm response from Prue and Paul.
And, worse still, she left actual parchment paper inside her showstopper pie. Inedible parchment paper. Inside her collapsed showstopper pie.
It was an epic blunder to some, a cardinal sin to others. The overall consensus online, however, was unanimous: Stacey should have been given the axe – and there must be something fishy going on for her to have been given a pass.
Yup, you guessed it: they’ve only gone and cried “fix” again.
The outrage is all too real.
By this point in the game, though, we imagine the fury bounces off Channel 4 bosses like water off a duck’s back. After all, this isn’t the only ‘scandal’ that’s rocked this year’s season of the show: Ofcom is currently deciding whether to investigate after Sandi pretended to shut co-host Noel Fielding in a fridge.
And let’s not forget how everyone was up in arms over the unusual mini roll recipe, the pre-made fondant incident, the ad breaks and the frequency of The Paul Hollywood Handshake (replaced by the Prue Pat last night).
All in all, it makes for great telly. Roll on the next episode.
GBBO continues next Tuesday at 8pm on Channel 4
Images: Channel 4 / Love Productions