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'Great British Bake Off 2014' Episode Blog - Week Nine

02/10/2014 10:19 BST | Updated 01/12/2014 10:59 GMT
Hugo Philpott/PA Archive

It's semi-final time, with just three challenges standing between Richard, Chetna, Luis and Nancy, and a place in the final. However, as well as three challenges, there are also only three places available in next week's show.

The signature bake is baklava, which doesn't sound too taxing until you realise the bakers have to make their own filo pastry from scratch - a task most people never even bother with due its sheer fiddliness. Nancy plans to fill her baklava with muesli, and proudly informs the camera that she makes her own muesli. But surely muesli is just a handful of ingredients mixed together? It's like telling people you make your own salad.

Anyway, Chetna's decided to incorporate cocoa powder into her filo dough, and finds it tough going to obtain the necessary thinness. Luis' intricate floral design leads to some debate over whether what he has created actually constitutes baklava at all. However, all arguments are moot when Paul dismisses his concoction as far too dry.

Continuing the series' theme of technical bakes you've never heard of, our final foursome then have to make a German Schichttorte, which has twenty distinct layers and is made in the grill, because why the flipping heck not? In a short video piece, presumably designed to break up the not-all-that-exciting spectacle of people looking at grills intently, Mel travels to Germany and finds that Schichttorte are a form of Baumkuchen; gigantic and intricate cakes that are made on a spit. Seriously, you think you know a thing or two about cake, and then they throw this nonsense at you.

Back in the tent, Chetna's happy that her mixture has a "good, battery consistency", which seems odd, as there's no way you'd put it in the back of the remote control to make your TV work. The painstaking task of grilling twenty individual layers of sponge is also pretty time-consuming, and not all the bakers get the full number done before the end. In fact, at one point, despite each layer taking about five minutes, Chetna has seventeen minutes to do six layers.

Come the judging, Paul's insistence on counting each individual layer makes Sue's eyes roll so hard she can probably see the front of her brain. Chetna comes last, Nancy's third, Richard's second, but Luis has somehow bent space and time to produce a faultless Schichttorte without seeming to even break into a sweat.

The final task is to produce two collections of a dozen entremets - French pâtisserie that, given the range of skills and techniques our contestants display, seem to have a very fluid definition of what they are. We've jellies, biscuits, mousses, sponges, glazes and more. Chetna's chocolate, orange and hazelnut confections contain no fewer than six separate elements.

Despite having five hours to complete the task, it still looks like the usual rush at the finish. Luis is putting his jelly moulds in a warm bath so that they come out perfectly ring-shaped. Nancy makes her chocolate glaze too thin and it doesn't quite stick to the sides enough. Nothing has gone disastrously wrong for Richard but he's still running around like a man trying to do ten things at once (which, in fairness, he sort of is). Chetna has had to leave her entremets in the freezer for longer than she intended, and barely gets them out in time to face the judging duo.

It's an extraordinary effort from all of them and, at this late stage, there's no clear episode winner and no-one who has become separated from the rest, so who's going to fall at the final hurdle?

Innuendo of the week: "I've also toasted some nuts off" - something tells me Richard's standing a little too close to the hob.

Star baker: That man Richard does it again. There have only been nine episodes, and he's been star baker an unprecedented five times.

Going home: She slightly struggled due to the incredibly high standard, but Chetna's bakes just weren't quite up to scratch over the course of the weekend, and she sadly takes her leave.

Next week: FINAL!