‘The Great British Bake Off’ 2016 recap: Week 5

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Week 5 and we’re half way through.

We’re down to just eight bakers (although if you’ve been keeping up with the news, you’ll know that’s a better result than Channel 4 have, having paid £25 million for Paul Hollywood in a tent).

Andrew declares, sweetly nervously,  that he’d like to make Star Baker before he leaves the tent, ‘which hopefully won’t be for a while yet,’ he adds nervously. Being sweetly, geekily nervous seems to be Andrew’s main character trait on Bake Off: he’s the boy in a John Hughes movie who has to wait patiently for Lea Thompson to get over her bad boy phase. Benjamina, meanwhile is nervous for other reasons: having already been awarded Star Baker last week, she acknowledges that she has further to fall: the pressure is on.

For the Signature Challenge, the bakers are required to whip up a batch of Danish pasties, and frankly it doesn’t take long to work out who will be the Champions of Breakfast. Candice is the only baker who takes the risk of making savoury pastries, while Jane decides that she’ll spend time making two different types of dough, which results in Paul giving one of his ‘are you sure about that?’ looks.

Jane doesn’t seem to bothered, humming a quick burst of Annie Lennox. This time it’s ‘No More I Love Yous’, but given the weather that constantly batters the Bake Off tent, it could just as easily be ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’.

Jane The Great British Bake Off 2016

There’s lots of confusion about exactly how many layers to make. One good turn deserves another, and – as is usual in this tent – bakers are on hand with each other to help. Candice is reasonably confident about her sums: ‘I can do three times three’, she tells us. But doesn’t take the risk of giving us the answer. Meanwhile, Val reveals that she likes to cut her pastry up using dental floss, which appears to make little or no sense to everyone who witnesses it.

Perhaps Val isn’t too certain herself: she’s visibly shaking as the time runs out, and has ditched her customary mug for a bottle of water. Well, it looks like water. It could still be vodka. Mel asks Benjamina how much longer she needs. ‘Twenty minutes,’ comes the reply. Mel winces awkwardly before telling her that’s exactly how long she has.

Benjamina – as somewhat expected – does pretty shoddily at the signature: ‘Who was Star Baker last week,’ asks Paul, not entirely kindly. Candice does better, with the added kudos of Mel nicking her pastries. There are clear front runners at this stage, and Candice is certainly one of them.

Candice The Great British Bake Off 2016

Next up is the Technical Challenge, which Rav is already panicking about: ‘I can’t be the last in the Technical third week in a row,’ he says with the Death Row grimace of a man who already believes that’s exactly how things will turn out. This week, the challenge is from Mary, while Paul declares that everyone should know what a Bakewell Tart looks like. Val has a pretty good idea, which is lucky, as for the first part of the challenge, she’s lost the second page of the recipe (yes, Val, we’ve had that exam nightmare too).

Once she’s found the recipe, she proceeds to ignore it, which is the sort of risk taking normally reserved by Tom. Andrew is doing his sweet panic again, trying to convince himself that he’s making the right decisions: ‘Yeah,’ he says uncertainly. ‘Yeah,’ he says again, to underline the point. ‘Yeah,’ he expands, with a sense of closure. There’s a pointed pause. ‘Yeah?’ he asks, sweetly nervous. Perhaps such affirmation is the reason that he forgets to switch the oven on.

Val The Great British Bake Off 2016

‘She looks like she knows exactly what she’s doing,’ Benjamina says of Val. As it turns out, Val – along with Rav – does so badly, that she saves Andrew and his undercooked tart from coming in last. Thw winner of the Technical is Jane, closely followed by Candice, both of whom are currently quite some distance ahead of everybody else in the tent. Rav is despondent: as far as he’s concerned, it’s going to take a miracle to stay in the tent. He seems to forget that he’s got form on this: doing pretty badly on the first two challenges, only to really soar in the Showstopper.

The Showstopper this week largely involves filo pastry, which has to be stretched more thinly than the baker’s nerves. Again, Candice is trying something savoury, telling us that ‘its good to get your hands stuck in, to give your sausages a good squeeze.’ She’s seen this show before, that girl. Jane whispers ‘Star Baker’ to her opponents with the confidence of a woman who’s in the running for that accolade herself, and while she did win the Technical, Candice was awarded Star Baker for the second time.

But this week, it’s all about the latest to leave: Val. Apparently, she felt that that she had come as far as she could, and perhaps her heart was no longer in her tarts. She tells us, in a line that would sound saccharine from anybody else, that the special ingredient in her baking is love. The tent mourns.

It’s telling that we catch a glimpse of Mel and Sue giving each other a hug when they’re presumably not saying goodbye to each other anytime soon, which tells you everything you need to know about Mel and Sue, the type of show they have created, and the type of show that Bake Off will likely not be in 2018.

Benjamina The Great British Bake Off 2016

In the final analysis then, it looks fairly clear who the finalists will be, with perhaps a bit of wriggle room for a late minute surprise. Benjamina and Andrew are the ones that could go either way, both being often excellent, but rather too often making basic mistakes. Candice has been consistently excellent, and is also genuinely interested in food as an experience – both in presentation and taste. Jane has suddenly thrown down all manner of gauntlets: her eyes have narrowed on the prize.

It’s difficult to see how Tom can survive, if for no other reason that he’s usually no good at listening: there’s a distinct difference between doing something interesting and risky with ingredients, as Candice, Rav and Selasi often do, and simply ignoring the given instructions. Speaking of Rav and Selasi, they’re both treading water at the moment – or to be more exact, Selasi is dozing on a lilo clutching an iced cocktail, while Rav is slowly drowning, coming up for gulps of air at the last moment.

Aired at 8pm on Wednesday 21 September 2016 on BBC One.

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