Great British Bake Off Andrew's gingerbread treat secures next round berth
Northern Ireland engineer Andrew Smyth has progressed to the next round of the Great British Bake Off after just being pipped at the post for the accolade of star baker in last night's nail-biting second instalment.
For his show-stopper creation, the Holywood native, who now lives in England, created a scene from his Cambridge University student days - in gingerbread.
The 11 contestants on the show were asked to tell a story in gingerbread by judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.
Andrew, son of outgoing Northern Ireland CBI Director Nigel Smyth, went back to his University days for inspiration and decided to make a 37-piece creation featuring himself punting on the Cam, with swans, a boat, a bike and a biscuit bridge.
"After exams, it was nice to go putting - that's me in the punt," he told presenter Mel Giedroyc.
"It's a feat of gingerbread engineering, she quipped.
Earlier in last night's biscuit-themed round, Andrew produced some workmanlike iced biscuits and then a platter of tricky Viennese whirls, which tickled the judges' palates .
"Very precise Viennese biscuit," said Mary Berry.
"He could have a blinding day today," reckoned Paul.
But the whirls were just an hors d'oeuvre setting him up for the final show-stopper contest.
After four gruelling hours, nervous Andrew gingerly carried his Cambridge creation across to the judges' table.
Paul Holywood nibbled delicately on part of the structure and said: "It reminds me of my mum's ginger biscuit."
"In a good way?" squeaked Andrew anxiously. "Yes, that's a good thing," he replied. "It tastes lovely - really good.
Veteran judge Mary Berry agreed. "I think that you should be very proud of that," she said.
"It's all very enticing , and I think you have handled it very well."
That was high praise indeed from Mary Berry.
Andrew emitted a sigh of relief as the hard-to-please pair moved on to examine the other contestants' spicy creations.
The Rolls Royce engineer was in the running for star baker of the week after his tasty performance, but fellow contestant Candice Brown, from Bedford, made a wonderful gingerbread pub, telling in biscuit form the story of her life with her mother and father.
Her childhood-inspired pub design won the judge's hearts - not to mention their palates.
After last night's performance, things are looking good for the Ulster-born baker.
Next week on Bake Off is bread week - and it looks like Andrew will be well able to rise to the challenge.