The quarter finals are upon the Great British Bake Off tent! But has it become a one horse race? Emma Sleight gets to the gluten-free, sans-buttery bottom on things...
Bake Off went off patisserie piste this week with unconventional flours, a sans-gluten technical dacquoise, or "dakeeeese" if you're Beca, and 3D, dairy-less, vegetable showstoppers free from all of the delicious, cellulite-inducing things that make a cake taste like a cake.
While I fought back unpleasant memories of my sister-in-laws vegan wedding cake and the nation wondered if you can actually even make a cake 2D, after watching week eight baking fans across Britain had just one burning question: who WAS that mystery tent intruder that popped up behind Frances? Answers on a postcard please.
Ah yes, it's quarter-final week and while Paul and Mary struggle to disguise that they - or perhaps the producers - are backing one horse for the win, (well, there's no denying that Ruby's face would look fetching on a book cover) three bakers were up for the cull.
Would it be always the bridesmaid, never the bride Beca who sang 'I'm Coming Out' prophetically at her heavenly potato focaccia before facing an onslaught of Hollywood criticism for her cheese-less cheese board?
Would it be Frances with a style over substance monkey now so firmly on her back that it's gone full orangutan who gave Mary the hump with her inedible plant pots?
Or would it be two-time star baker Christine who produced what Mary called "simplicity": a guitar made from potatoes and marshmallow fondant complete with piped strings and flashing lights.
According to Paul it came down to "taste, texture and appearance" and when Christine's dacquoise collapsed and her little knob fell off, you knew there would be trouble ahead, and there was as the glamorous granny became the latest Bake Off casualty.
Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby managed to get a ruddy grip (between smashing bowls and lamenting about how rubbish her bakes were to everyone in earshot) to produce a top scoring dacquoise and a carrot cake shed suffering from subsidence in an allotment that looked like it had sprouted unsupervised from a Tim Burton film.
How I prayed for the invention of taste-o-vision though as, despite Mary saying specifically that she didn't want to see any carrot cakes, the judges thought it was delicious and with a touch of week two Déjà vu, Ruby was crowned star baker for a third time over Kimberley's Disney-fied toadstool.
Amid the imagined vitriolic twitter grumbles, *why doesn't Paul just give her the trophy now mutter mutter* the queen of self-deprecation admitted she thinks she might quite like to get to the final now and, with one of her main competitors handily dispatched, it looks like she's on a collision course with the unshakable KimBot 3.0 for the Bake Off crown.
Next week everyone's heading singing and dancing towards savoury canapés and swiss roll technicals.
Will Beca finally get star baker? Will Ruby resist the urge to shout about what a shoddy job she's done? Will we ever get through one week without an entire XFactor series worth of tears? All together now: It's only baking, it's only baking, it's only baking!
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