Belfast Telegraph

Great British Bake Off semi-final: Andrew Smyth named Starbaker in Patisserie Week

Holywood man Andrew Smyth was named Starbaker during Patisserie Week of Great British Bake Off and has progressed to the final.

The 25-year-old aerospace engineer will now be up against Jane Beedle and Candice Brown in the final after Selasi Gbormittah was elminated.

Selasi said he "dropped the ball" as he became the ninth baker to leave the tent, but admitted that exiting the competition at the semi-final stage was "the right time" for him.

The contestants were tasked with creating a selection of tasty treats under the theme of Patisserie Week but the 30-year-old banker failed to impress judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood with his creations.

Gbormittah said: "It's a massively great achievement for me personally, and my family, to get to the semi -finals. It's been absolutely amazing, splendid, I loved it all.

"I was almost at the last hurdle, and then I dropped the ball. I can't blame anyone else but myself, I was sorry to be going but also accepted it at the same time."

The famously calm and collected baker said that being dubbed "Mr Cool, or the chuckling zen banker" among his fans "does make me smile".

He said he and the other bakers, especially Benjamina Ebuehi, got on well and that "for me it was more about a bunch of people baking in the tent and having a great time, not a competition".

He added: "My best moment in the tent has to be every moment. But when I messed up and tried to blag my way out of it, I can't believe I did that, now watching it back I find it really hilarious.

"My worst moment had to be leaving of course but I think I left at the right time, it was time for me to go. I knew it and felt it."

Hollywood said he was "very proud of Selasi" to get this far, and Berry added that he is a "great character".

Gbormittah's downfall in the semi-final began with the signature challenge, as the four remaining bakers were tasked with creating 24 savoury palmiers with two different flavours.

His salmon, spinach and mushroom, and sun-dried tomato, onion and Parmesan palmiers - constructed with puff pastry - were under-baked, with Berry describing them as "very raw".

The technical challenge required the contestants to construct a ring-shaped yeast drizzle cake called a savarin, but Gbormittah came bottom of the pack for his over-baked effort with disappointing orange segments on top.

His showstopper challenge creation, 36 fondant fancies, were the final straw as Berry and Hollywood confessed they were "not excited" over his flavours or the fondant around the outside of each mini cake.

Last week Andrew won praise for his Leonardo da Vinci-inspired mechanised pie but his knight on horseback was less impressive. Judges observed that the marzipan jousting knight had a poorly placed pole.

"The jousting pole really should have gone on the hand," judge Paul Hollywood sniggered.

Northern Ireland Economy Minister was among those who have congratulated the Co Down native on reaching the finals, praising him for bringing his skills as an engineer to the kitchen to create “many outstanding bakes”.

"Andrew truly deserves his place in the final after weeks coming through weeks of tough baking challenges,” he said.

"I have no doubt the whole of Northern Ireland will be cheering him on in next week’s final. As we celebrate the Year of Food and Drink, it is tremendous to see amateur bakers like Andrew do so well in a much loved and popular TV programme as the Great British Bake Off this year."

Gbormittah will join Jo Brand on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Friday October 21, at 9.30 pm, on BBC Two. The final of The Great British Bake Off will air at 8pm on Wednesday October 26 on BBC One.

Great British Bake Off airs on BBC1 at 8pm Wednesday

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