‘The Great British Bake Off’ 2016 recap: Week 9

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2016 has been a very curious year.

It’ll be the year that we talk to our grandchildren about as they try to score energy bars from the hordes of zombies. And they’ll look to us, eyes full of wonder, and ask: ‘Did you see it for yourself? What did Selasi look like in a dress?’ And we’ll wrap them up in our arms, sigh deeply, and tell them the truth: 2016 wasn’t yet done with its insane cruelty.

This is the semi-finals, with only four remaining bakers. It kicks off with Mel and Sue doing a bit of Godard, and the theme of existential angst is developed by Candice: ‘It’s so empty in here,’ she remarks as the tumbleweeds dart through the tent. Presumably Paul just sees it as a preview of the 2018 Channel 4 show.

For the first challenge, the bakers are requested to deliver a batch of palmiers (yeah, we had to google that too), and Paul warns that you have to add little to pack a punch. Jane is worried that she will – to coin a phrase – make a pig’s ear of it, and says that she’s hedging her bets. Candice, busy bashing out her butter (what? She said it), is not one to play it so safe. Again, she gets a warning that her bakes have ‘a lot of things going on’. She considers this. ‘I’m not worried, actually.’

The Great British Bake Off 2016

The boys have already decided that Candice and Jane are likely to better than they will – ‘They’re the ones to beat,’ according to Andrew. Later he admits: ‘I’m losing confidence.’ Selasi is also nervous, but tells us: ‘The key to a successful bake is chillin’.’ That’s the only inspirational phrase you need on your next sunset photograph.

The women may not be as confident as Selasi and Andrew think they are. Jane is very quiet and focussed. At least she is until Candice shouts out ‘I can hear you whisperin’!’ Meanwhile, Andrew has a major setback with his pastry, and has to start again. Selasi, in a cute moment (yes, all of his moments are cute, shaddup) appears to foreshadow Mel and Sue’s departure from the show, doing their countdown for them. Actually, Selasi doing various announcements – like The Shipping Forecast – would be just the thing, wouldn’t it? Can someone design the app? I’ll take 10 per cent.

It’s OK for Mel, though. She already has a new job as Candice’s make-up artist: ‘You without lipstick is not right. It’s the semi-final; don’t let yourself down.’ That’s not Candice’s way, however. Just moments later she’s declaring that she’s ‘just rolling in my nuts.’ Candice Brown: keeping the British (Bake Off) end up. There’s a lot of panic near the end: both Selasi and Jane drop their palmiers (‘five second rule,’ Andrew advises).

Candice appears not to have actually made palmeirs, although to be fair, that’s more to do with the bake going wrong than her ignoring what’s she’s been told. Much to his surprise, Andrew does best. Paul sums up what Andrew must be feeling: ‘You’ve got away with it.’

Andrew The Great British Bake Off 2016

Mary has a ‘H’ on her belt this week (presumably in homage to Kate McKinnon’s Holtzman, after her eerie impersonation on last week’s Saturday Night Live), and is watching carefully as all four bakers run off into their signature challenge in four completely different directions. Jane is confused about how to draw a 7cm oval, while Mel tells her not to obsess with how well Andrew might be doing.

‘He’s obsessed with you, Jane. You’re all he talks about.’ Jane spends much of this week with the expression of a woman who’s just been told that the Bake Off is now going to be presented by the nominees for the US Presidential Election.

Meanwhile, Sue is towelling down Selasi (that tissue will be on ebay by the time you read this), and Candice – for perhaps the first time – does not look entirely in control of what she’s doing. When it comes to judging, she doesn’t so well – but then none of them do. So as it gets to the final challenge, there’s everything to play for: although the women are still just edging ahead of the men.

For the Showstopper, the bakers are required to make thirty-six Fondant Fancies. Paul wants them to look like shop brought cakes (well, there’s an easy way to achieve that, isn’t there, Paul?) , while Mary highlights a problem: there’s simply not enough time to allow the icing to set properly. But that’s OK: she’s prepared to accept ‘sheer perfection.’

Jane continues to panic, but Paul is on hand to reassure her like a boss. Like a Mafia boss, but still. ‘You’ve got to do well,’ he intones. Jane has the grace to respond to that advice as if it’s a genuinely new idea.

Jane The Great British Bake Off 2016

Andrew produces a stunning piece, looking like an orchestra full of sheet music (perhaps he’s got that old Nat King Cole song running through his head), and Candice – once again – mildly panics the judges by doing 110%, which is not only numerically impossible, but entirely typical of Candice. ‘The thing is,’ says Paul, ‘You’ve got to get it finished in time.’ Thanks, Paul. With these insightful fortune cookie beads of wisdom, Channel 4 have really got themselves a bargain.

After a while, the baking takes its toll. ‘The first two were fun,’ Andrew remarks. After that? ‘An exercise in endurance,’ he mutters, accidentally managing to replicate most online reviews of Luke Cage. After a variety of dipping or dripping (Jane’s potato smasher is a very good idea), the bakers present.

As is often the case, Candice confounds he judges fears by managing to do exactly what she planned, successfully. Once again, Mary can barely hide her admiration: ‘You clever girl,’ she breathes, although she then defies tradition by not being immediately attacked by a gang of velociraptors.

It would be mildly ridiculous (although admittedly deserved) for Candice to get Star Baker for the fourth time – but that’s not the only reason that Andrew gets the accolade this week. As we mentioned last time, Andrew is someone who is constantly improving and getting better. In a sprint, Candice has been constantly the front runner on the best betting websites. But as the finishing line comes into view, Andrew is putting on a burst of unstoppable energy. Jane is unlikely to match either of them (although, come on Jane: we’d be delighted if you proved us wrong).

Selasi The Great British Bake Off 2016

So, yes. 2016 continues its dread shadow through our lives. At just near the end, Selasi bows out of the Bake Off. Leaving us to ask: what would he have looked like in a dress? Why didn’t he notice and bend down to pick up that pencil that somebody had strategically on the floor in week six (seriously, it’s true: go back and check)? And what did we do to deserve him in our lives in the first place? Farewell, Selasi: at least we’ll see you again in the final.

The final final on the BBC. The final final with Mary Berry.

The final final when we’ll hear Mel and Sue say those immortal words … ‘Ready … steady …’

Aired at 8pm on Wednesday 19 October 2016 on BBC One.

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What was your favourite moment this week? Let us know below…