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The ninth baker leaves the tent

The nation’s most famous tent was pitched in the grounds of Welford Park once again. Presenters Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas returned to lead the latest batch of bakers through brand new challenges set by Judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.

In Tuesday’s night’s episode of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4, Abdul was named Star Baker and Janusz, 34, from East Sussex left the tent.

It was the ninth episode in a nail-biting semi-final of The Great British Bake Off. In Patisserie week the bakers had to make Mini Charlottes for their Signature challenge, a vertical tart for the very tricky Technical, and Krokan for a stunning Showstopper.

At the end Matt announced that Abdul was the Star Baker, and Noel followed with the hardest job of announcing that Janusz would be leaving the tent.

Janusz said at the end of the episode: ‘It doesn’t surprise me. I am just leaving the tent, I am not upset. The best bakers are left clearly : it was an amazing time, with amazing people,’

Paul said: ‘You are a really good baker.’ Prue added: ‘You are not just a good baker you are such a lovely guy’.

Janusz talks about the semi-final:

“Before they announced who was leaving I knew what was coming so I wasn’t really surprised. Going this far in the series was such a personal achievement for me, so every week I got through was a bonus. And I had so many of those bonuses that I cannot complain.

“Going into the tent for the last time with the three finalists, I was happy in the knowledge that I was amongst the three best bakers in the tent, and I thought oh my god this is unreal. That meant more to me than getting to the final. The four of us were really close, and after it was announced I was going they did keep saying to me, it’s only one week, we aren’t going to miss you that much, we will see you soon.

“I always knew that Patisserie was my weakness, and could be my downfall. My usual precision and my ruler escaped me this week. Patisserie – it’s something you are good at or you are not, I can decorate nicely and neatly but with Patisserie it’s more about precision, and I needed much more time.

“One thing I will take away from the series is that I know I will never make a Krokan again in my life. I had never heard of it before, and it was really difficult to find on the internet and research for it! And I will never get to the bottom of the missing Spring roll – I still don’t know where it rolled away to, I think it will remain as one of the mysteries of the tent. I had never made spring rolls before and I won’t be making them again. You just get them from the takeaway don’t you?

“I have always tried to bring Polish ingredients to the tent which I tried to do in the semi final based on a favourite childhood treat of plums and chocolate, but I was worried about my mousse setting, that was the least of my worries!

“I helped Syabira erect her Krokan while I was waiting for my sugar to set. She is a great buddy and she did my make-up expertly on Halloween week with eye-liner. My look for Not Fielding was inspired by drag and I had to bake in shocking high boots! These were easy the first day, as I was able to take them off between challenges. But on the second day I had to wear them all day and they were literally killing me – I just couldn’t get rid of them quickly enough by the end of the challenge and put my flat shoes on.

“For my Showstopper, a Brighton Pride Krokan – Paul said it was executed well, and Prue said it had delicious flavours, but I knew it wasn’t really going to help me get to the final. There was definitely not enough time for me to finish it, so I had to present it to the judges without the final decoration, and that was disappointing.

“I met Juergen [semi-finalist from the last series] and his rabbit Geoffrey recently for a coffee and a slice of cake, as he lives near me in Brighton. The cake was a raspberry genoise sponge and it was delicious, and he gave me a massive slice to take home, which was amazing.

“Brighton is a very welcoming town and every single comment has been only positive, and they are pleased that I am representing Brighton. I also know how proud my home country Poland is of me, and they have been championing me throughout the series.

“I wanted to bring fun to the tent, I took the baking seriously but if time allows I like to bring in a bit of comedy and have fun with everyone in the tent.

“I really clicked with Noel – I love his art and my sister in Poland does too – so the first question she asked me after episode one is what is Noel like? I loved Matt’s sense of humour as well, we were often caught talking about stuff that would never make the edit, we always took our jokes too far.

“It was always sad when someone was leaving the tent, but also we always wanted to give attention to the star baker. With me I wanted to celebrate the Star Baker so much after the semi-final, particularly as it was Abdul’s first one. So that took the edge off my leaving, as I wanted to focus on Abdul’s special moment.

“Simon my partner was really supportive throughout, he gave really good constructive criticism even though he is not a lover of cake! I don’t think I could have done the series without him, that’s for sure.

“I know it’s cheesy but from the very first application I sent off to then being in the tent I will be taking away the knowledge that I can go as far as I can dream in life by just believing that I can. I applied three times to Bake Off and with each rejection knew it just wasn’t the right time and it meant I got another year of creating fun bakes at home!

“What is next for me in the baking world? Well I think it’s easy to forget that the GBBO contestants are actually just home/amateur bakers, so personally I’m hoping to develop my skills to a professional standard and share some of my own recipes across the world. And I hope I will always be remembered as the ‘Star Caker in Bake Week!’.”

Here he talks about his time in the Tent:

“The thing I loved most about filming was challenging and pushing myself through things I never thought I could previously do. I found it hard being away from home as the day I left for GBBO was the day my boyfriend moved us into our first property we purchased together, but the first thing he did was to make sure the kitchen was ready for me and after my first time back home it already felt like home!

“It was hard keeping it a secret but my friends are so lovely and supportive that when I made excuses about where I was they never questioned or challenged me in any way… Maybe they were happy for some peace and quiet!

“I have learnt that having fun and baking by trial and error is the best way to develop ideas and recipes in your own kitchen. My best moment in the tent was definitely winning star baker on the first week! I worked SO hard to get to that point but still felt a bit of imposter syndrome so to have my bakes/place in the tent validated so early on meant the world to me. The worst moment I had in the tent was the “ice”cream technical challenge where I served “room-temperature” cream instead!

“My favourite challenge was the Lemon Meringue Pie technical challenge because the instructions were genuinely just “make a lemon meringue pie” and I loved that I could use my own bakers intuition to achieve what I did! The challenge I found most difficult to even come up with an idea for was episode one showstopper the “Homemade Cake” because I just couldn’t think how I could make the concrete block of flats I grew up in, in Poland, look pretty!

“There was a moment when we finished baking on week one, and we were sat at our benches next to our Homemade Cake showstoppers and somebody made me laugh which made my belly jiggle, which made the floor move, which made my cake wobble, which made me laugh more, which made my cake wobble more… and so on!

“Working with the production team and crew I definitely have a lot more respect for the amount of work and people-power that goes into producing a TV show and keeping 12 excitable contestants (and Matt and Noel!) in line! They were FANTASTIC and made being away from my friends and family a lot easier than it would have been without them!”

Q&A with Janusz:

How much did you practice at home before going into the tent and how did you juggle that with life and work?
I think one thing that I can say confidently is that I put as much effort into my GBBO experience as possible. To get a place on the show was such an achievement I knew I didn’t want to waste it so I was baking morning to night any time I could! My partner was very supportive in the process and helped me by tasting and cleaning along the way and made sure I took time to look after myself as well when I was in too deep!

How big is your love of baking and how many hours would you bake a week?
I love baking more than Prue loves a bold necklace! It is the third person in my relationship and brings me so much happiness, and I love the way my baking can bring happiness to other people as well.

Did you pack a lucky item for your stay?
I had a lucky mug that I actually ended up leaving behind in the tent.

Can you describe the bakers as a group this year, and are you all on a what’s app group?
I used to call the other bakers my Babesesses, because they are all that, babes. We are all in a whatsapp group named “Y’all Bready for this” and it’s been such fun staying in contact with each other.

How nervous were you when Paul and Prue started judging the first signature challenge and how did it feel when they judged the technical challenge?
I was SO nervous! I wanted to bake something in the first week that was traditionally Polish and to have them stand there and judge something that they might not have been familiar with was nerve wracking!

Is Paul Hollywood scary in real life and how did you cope with the blue eyed stare?
Don’t tell anyone I said this but he’s a big Teddy Bear really, and always up for fun!

Having watched Bake Off in the past, was the first day in the tent what you expected?
The first day in the tent was SO much more emotional than I was expecting. I think the thing I never realised as a viewer is how hard everyone walking into that tent has worked and pushed themselves to get to that first day.

If you could travel back in time what year/decade would you like to go back to and why?
I would travel back to the 70s and bring back all the retro serving dishes! As much as I love modern baking I also love traditional bakes and the way things were served were just so unique. I would also find a young cook/baker named Prue and warn her that one day she will meet a chubby Polish man named Janusz in a tent in England.

What was it like having the team clean up for you after all your bakes. Did you feel guilty if you made a mess?
I always apologised to the team cleaning up after me as I was such a messy baker! Though I was reassured I didn’t have the crown of messiest baker to ever be on the show… Though I know who was!

Who is your baking inspiration and what age did you start baking?
I am really inspired by anyone that bakes at all. It can be so rewarding but also so frustrating if things don’t turn out right first time so for anyone to keep going is great. I started baking at 18 and soon came up with my own baking mantra “A bad loaf of bread makes a good batch of breadcrumbs”

The Bake Off family is a very exclusive club, how do you feel now being a new member?
To become a part of the Bake Off family still feels surreal… I cannot wait to meet up with past bakers and share stories from the most stressful but wonderful shared experience of our lives!

The warmth and love you get in the Tent is a very special feeling, what is the nicest thing in baking you have done for anyone/or given them?
Instead of buying my friends and families gifts for their birthdays I like making them cakes. I love being able to create new ideas based on them as a person and watching their reaction as they receive something so personal and (hopefully) tasty!

What is the cake you get asked to make the most for friends and family?
It’s actually my gingernut biscuits I get asked to make the most! My family in the UK have special gingernut jars and when they need topping up I get sent photos of empty jars!

If you were a cake topper what would you be and why?
If I was a cake topper I would be something over the top and extra, with glitter on, to match my personality!

On a Bake Off Island you are allowed to take one utensil – what would it be?
Hmm… Does the bake off tent count as a kitchen utensil? I think it does… ?

In three words how would you describe yourself?
Fun, loud and proud!

And how would your friends describe you?
They would probably say I’m unpredictable! My friends and I always have the best adventures and have the best stories to tell because of it!

Are there any spices or flavours that you really dislike and why?
In my thirty four years on earth I think I am yet to discover a food I do not like!

When baking in the kitchen at home what music do you have on in the background, or is it just the hum of the fridge?
When I am baking I HAVE to have cartoons on in the background! I really missed having them in the tent but then having Matt and Noel around was a bit like having our own cartoon characters in the tent!

Does it all seem a bit surreal that you have joined The Great British Bake Off family?
It really does! Even having been there and finishing filming I still don’t really believe it happened…

Do you think work colleagues and friends will be shocked to see you on TV?
Part of my new role at work is to go around and train hospital staff and I cannot WAIT until I’m sat there training people and they realise I’m a contestant on a TV show they (hopefully) love and have been watching!

What do you think it will be like watching yourself on television. Are you looking forward to it or terrified?
I absolutely LOVED my bake off experience and it has been SO positive that I really cannot wait to live it all again…

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