NI hopeful gets through to next round of Great British Bake Off
NORTHERN Ireland's hope in this year's Great British Bake Off redemed himself in the last challenge to win a place inrto the next round.
Andrew Smyth (25) from Holywood, Co Down managed to dodge a bullet when his showstopper challenge cake was judged as "asbolutely stunning" by judge Paul Hollywood while Mary Berry praised his "perfect sponge".
The former student Sullivan Upper school in Hollywood is one of the 12 best amateur bakers vying for this year's Bake Off crown.
Andrew got off to a shakey start when his first round lemon drizzle cake was judged to be lacking in lemon flavour.
Then he came last in the technical recipe challenge when his 12 Jaffa cakes turned out to be too thick in the sponge and filled outside down.
For the show-stopper round, all the contestants were asked to make a mirror glazed cake.
Andrew's chocolate and caramel cake was the last to be presented - and helped seal his progress into the next round.
The Rolls Royce designe engineer is the son of CBI Northern Ireland director Nigel Smyth.
He now lives in Derby.
Church minister Lee Banfield said he was disappointed at being the first person to leave The Great British Bake Off.
The 67-year-old, who is also the oldest competitor in the seventh series of the popular BBC show, fell behind the other 11 bakers to become the first to exit the tent.
He admitted he was "disappointed to be the first off" after his trio of bakes failed to impress judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.
The bakers were asked to create drizzle cakes for the Signature bake and Jaffa Cakes in the Technical challenge, before constructing a perfect genoise sponge with a mirror glaze for their final bakes, known as the Showstopper.
Banfield struggled early on, with his sponge turning into clumps while preparing his orange and lemon drizzle cake, which he based on the Bells of St Clements.
Hollywood praised the flavour of his bake, but criticised the texture as "awful".
His Jaffa Cakes in the technical challenge were uneven and had lumps of chocolate in the middle of each one, instead of being smooth and uniform.
The bake that sealed Banfield's fate was his Showstopper cake, which was a strawberry surprise mirror cake covered in a dark chocolate mirror glaze, complete with ganache and layers of fresh strawberries and strawberry jam.
Hollywood described his genoise sponge as "too dry" while questioning his use of fresh fruit running through the middle layers, and Berry suggested he needed a "lift of cream".
Following his departure, he said the worst moment in the competition was when Hollywood said "that isn't a Jaffa Cake" when judging his Technical bake.
He said: "I was trying to keep a straight face so I didn't give it away that it was mine.
"I've always enjoyed baking and at church I do regular baking demonstrations. I won't show the congregation how to make a Jaffa Cake, I am not going to repeat that experience - I'll buy them a pack instead."
Banfield took part in the popular BBC One programme after his wife of 47 years encouraged him to apply.
He added that he will continue to bake and do his demonstrations at church alongside his job as a pastor.
Talking about his exit from the show, Hollywood said: "It's very sad, but as I've just been saying to Lee now, you are one of the 12 best amateur bakers in the country. You should be very proud of yourself."
Jane Beedle, 61, was named the first Star Baker of the series, thanks to her impressive lemon and poppy seed drizzle cake, and chocolate and orange ganache-covered mirror glaze Showstopper.
It was a tight competition for the accolade as 30-year-old Ghanaian-born Selasi Gbormittah also made an impression with his bakes, clinching first spot in the Technical challenge.