Delectable desserts and underbaked bottoms made last night an emotional journey. We've still not recovered
Oh, dessert week, you naughty thing.
Hot off the heels of solid, dependable (but not exactly scintillating) bread episode, you arrive, all wobbly set custard-topped with burnt, snapping caramel and stack upon stack of creamy, berry-laden puddings.
Disappointed? Never. Last night's episode was a fairground ride of sugar spinning, cream whipping, dangerously liquid creations and oh-so-close-it-hurts failures.
The French classic
Crème brûlée was the signature bake. Stalwart dad-figure Ian went for a pomegranate-spiked affair, Nadiya chose a cinnamon tea twist, Alvin buried blackberries in his, and Paul (contestant Paul, not judge Paul, silly) took a walk on the wild side with a 'grown-up's' almond liqueur creation.
It took the big P Hollywood approximately five minutes to start spoon-feeding Mel custard in an unlikely display of friendship (perhaps he forgives her for all those hair-gel quips), while Sue and Leeds native Sandy enacted a physical demo of just how wobbly the brûlées should be. Sensational.
Testing time was tense, with contestant Paul's offering ending up as "boozy scrambled eggs" and cheeky chappy Mat getting a telling off from Mary for topping caramel with coconut ("a huge mistake"). Ian's, naturally, set like a dream.
Mary's technical challenge is next – the Spanische windtorte: a meringue, cream and fruit structure that sounds suspiciously like a pavlova. But wait! This incorporates two types of meringue (Swiss and French) to make it extra tricky. Decorated with fondant violets, we're told by MB that this should be an "extravaganaza". Zero pressure then, guys.
Despite, as the name of the challenge suggests, being super-technical (lots of meringue discs being neatly piled on top of each other; piping work aplenty), the stoic contestant Paul redeems himself, taking first spot and showing a touch of emotion to boot. Bravo.
The show must go on
On to the showstopper. The judges request a wedding-cake-style three-tiered cheesecake, perfectly creamy, inventively flavoured and stunning to look at.
Sweetpea Tamal's ideas are pretty special: he's rocking a honey and rosemary cake stacked under hazelnut praline and mango versions – getting the set just right that has been "tricky", he says, but, of course, he looks set to nail it.
Less confident is 19-year-old Flora, who gets in a tizz watching all the other contestants mix it up with three wildly flavoured cheesecakes, while she's stuck with classic elderflower. She starts piping macaroons for decoration in an effort to "jazz it up", but will that be enough?
The lovely Alvin does a layer each for his wife, son and daughter (what a babe), and Ian pops his inventive hat on for a "trio of spicy and herby cheesecakes".
Verdict time is up, and Paul and Mary are wowed by Tamal's intricate sugar work and precision, as well as Nadiya's incredibly creative "fizzy pop" cakes, which include an edible can of drink held aloft by a soda stream made of meringue. Clever cookie. Sandy's bakes include raw pastry and runny filling. The judges are unimpressed.
Yet again, Ian snatches the star baker prize (maybe let someone else have a go next week, huh?) and sadly – neigh, tragically – the warm, fabulous, funny Sandy is sent home.
Will she keep baking?
"Yes," she vows. "Maybe I'll even get better!"