'Great British Bake Off' Episode 4: Dan triumphant, but you're the real winner

Michael Moran
Contributor

Dessert week was atypical Bake Off in a lot of ways. For a start, most of the challenges didn’t involve that much baking.

Seriously. Blancmange?

Maybe the producers were hoping, with all that complex ‘in and out of the freezer’ action that blancmange requires, that we might be in for a re-run of #Bingate from 2014.

But there was not even a hint of that Baked Alaska controversy. Because there was one way in which tonight’s Great British Bake Off was absolutely typical. Everyone was completely adorable.

For a start, moustachioed baker Terry wasn’t well this week. So all his rival bakers gave him a unanimous free pass.

Then, later, something happened that made everyone forget for a minute about the world’s troubles and remember how lovely human beings can really be.

The signature bake: Roulade

An evening of sweet treats for the judges tonight

But let’s begin at the beginning. With Paul being a good sport about getting a custard pie full in the goatee and Rahul on course for a hat-trick of star baker trophies.

Rahul has to be the tip for overall series winner. Even if he’s not the world’s greatest egg separator. And he’s so rock and roll his favourite drink is a nice glass of milk.

The meringue challenge brought out Kim-Joy’s inner hippie, with lots of talk of clouds, and stars and dreams.

That brings us to Noël’s dreams. Of course he dreams of Sandi: the unlikely chemistry of their double-act is one of the greatest joys of Nu-Skool Bake Off.

Noel eyes Manon’s whisk

Watching the bakers making their roulades was a white-knuckle ride. We’ve all been watching Bake Off long enough to develop our own feuds and favourites by now but it was impossible not to feel for the bakers as they tried to find the brief magical moment between ‘done’ and ‘too stiff to roll.’

And, when we stay ‘too stiff to roll,’ let’s pause for a moment and mourn the double-entendres of old-school Bake Off. Rahul would never have got away with saying “I’m just going to spread my custard” with Mel & Sue on the case.

Rahul explains things to Noel

But someone’s meringue did fracture. And despite Jon’s wise words that you can get away with anything if you call it rustic, Manon’s attempts to paper over the cracks in her meringue with some judiciously-applied cream didn’t escape Paul’s piercing blue eyes.

The victors of the meringue section: Dan and ‘Science Boy’ Jon, who both scored Hollywood Handshakes. With a bonus point for the ravishing Ruby who had the foresight to include a complimentary cocktail.

The technical challenge: Blancmange

Next up… Blancmange? HOW THE HECK IS BLANCMANGE ‘BAKING’?

OK. Fair enough. There are also biscuits.

And yes, despite the unavoidable tension of a too-short two-and-a-half-hour slot to get the blancmanges in and out of the freezer, there was no hint of #BinGate. Although was that a flicker of friction between Ruby and Dan we spotted?

It was a tricky challenge. Kim-Joy was sure she was going home. Manon’s effort melted like that Nazi at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. And if you didn’t miss Mel & Sue already, none of the judges made a gag about the blancmange wobble test.

Although Sandi’s “There’s something very depressing about Manon’s blancmange” would make a great book title.

Manon makes her case to the judges

The showstopper: Melting chocolate ball dessert

Now. Has anyone heard of a melting chocolate ball dessert before? Apparently they’re all the rage round Ruby’s way.

Despite her familiarity with the form Ruby, along with Briony, fell foul of the warm weather. Their white chocolate efforts both collapsed due to climate change.

But…and here’s the other typically adorable GBBO moment. Jon took time out from his own bake to help Ruby repair hers. This is the best of humankind. This is who we are.

No rescue for Briony though, whose ball dessert slumped like the global financial system in 2008.

Briony shares a quiet word with Sandi

By contrast Rahul’s magnificent construction was almost too sturdy. Warm sauce? Not even a flamethrower could take that baby down.

The winners there seemed to be Manon, with an absolutely killer reveal that compensated for her deliquescent blancmange and Karen, whose ‘bowling ball’ construction went some way to claw back the losses of her first two efforts.

Before we get to the finale: Did you spot Noel running away from a yeti?

What’s Dan up to? Noel is puzzled.

Star baker

So, when the chocolate-dust settled, who was star baker? And who was going home?

Well, to no great surprise the top slot went to Dan.

And in a shock result – nobody went home!

But the real winners here were the audience. In a world where bad news seems to come buy the skipful, we got a glimpse of humanity’s better side tonight.

Same again next week? More life-affirming joy? It’s Bake Off. You can bank on it.