The pressure almost proved too much for Karen as The Great British Bake Off returned to screens this week.
If you’ve not yet watched episode four, turn back now. This article contains spoilers for the fourth week.
After a difficult few weeks, Karen had a lot to prove as she arrived for week four in the tent.
The Wakefield-based baker was one of nine contestants to earn a place in dessert week.
In an unusual twist, retired air steward Terry was absent from the week due to illness. The judges and contestants agreed that he would be allowed to return to the tent the following week.
This meant additional pressure for the eight remaining bakers as they began work on their signature meringue roulades.
The complicated bake involves meringue with a creamy filling, rolled into a tight spiral.
Paul declared: “The beauty of this challenge is there’s nowhere to hide. If you make a mistake, that’s it.”
Karen opted for a coffee cream roulade with a hazelnut praline filling.
She said: “At Christmas, hazelnut pralines always go first in our house, so I’ve tried to based the flavours on that really.”
The tent was filled with nervous laughter as the bakers began the dreaded roll, but while Manon’s roulade cracked and Briony’s leaked filling, Karen’s held its shape.
It was not, however, a hit with the judges.
Prue Leith pointed out that the soft meringue had “collapsed” and Paul Hollywood said: “It looks pretty sad. I think your meringue’s slightly underdone, your outside is the only crispy bit in there. Everything else is soft and marshmallowy.”
For the technical challenge, the contestants were asked to serve a raspberry blancmange with 12 identical langues de chat biscuits.
As the bakers struggled with the edited recipe, Karen said: “Does it say how long? No, it just says ‘bake.’ Bake ‘til Christmas, bake ‘til tomorrow morning? Thanks Prue.”
She placed seventh out of eight bakers. Prue said of her bake: “You didn’t get the raspberry through well enough and the biscuits are undercooked.”
Speaking after the results, Karen said: “I’m really disappointed with the result, do you want me to elaborate?”
Karen seemed to have lost her usual cheery disposition as she approached the week’s showstopper: a dessert of each contestant’s choosing, encased in a chocolate globe, which would then be melted with hot sauce to reveal the dessert inside.More councils could ‘go under’ like Northamptonshire, warns Wakefield leader
Paul warned that flavours were important to the bake. He said: “It’s got to blend well with the chocolate and the sauce. You’ve got to think of the flavours when the chocolate and sauce blend together.”
Karen’s chocolate brownie with mascarpone cream was enclosed in a chocolate globe and melted with raspberry coulis, much to the delight of the judges.
Paul complimented the “highly effective” design, and Prue said: “It’s absolutely delicious. I wouldn’t say it’s elegant, but I’d say it’s hugely decadent.”
Despite a well-received showstopper, Karen’s place in the tent was precarious as the time arrived for a baker to be sent home.
She could be seen with a worried expression as presenter Noel Fielding announced: “The person who’s going home this week is... nobody.”
Terry’s absence from the tent saved the bakers’ from facing another elimination, though contestants were warned that this means two bakers will be eliminated at a later stage of the competition.
Karen said: “I’m so pleased I’m not going home. My family will be giddier than I am. They’re so excited, my two girls. The dog’s not so keen.”
Next week will see the bakers face a fresh set of challenges as Bake Off hosts its first ever spice week.
The Great British Bake Off airs on Channel 4 at 8pm each Tuesday evening.
Follow Karen on Twitter to keep up to date with Wakefield’s very own Bake Off star.