In sad news for the manufacturers of pink food colouring and edible glitter, Stacey Hart failed to make it to the final of the Great British Bake Off.
On Tuesday night’s episode viewers saw the Radlett Reform Synagogue member struggle with unicorn and emoji-themed choux buns.
Mrs Hart, 42, whose turbulent temperament was a feature of this year’s contest, was, inevitably, in tears at the end.
Reflecting on her performance the day after her elimination was broadcast, the mother-of-three said: “It was a mixture of emotions for me.
“I felt I had done so well to get so close to the final, but also sort of relieved that I would be leaving the tension of the competition.”
Mrs Hart raised her game to come second in the technical challenge, a fiendishly difficult multi-layered Belgian confection called Les Miserables.
Everything came down to the show-stopper round, which demanded a sculpture in meringue. Her flaming-pink, feathered but legless flamingos won praise from judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood, but ultimately were not impressive enough to save her from elimination. Mr Hollywood stressed that the decision was a difficult one.
The former teacher’s road to the semi-final was rocky, featuring a raised pie which collapsed, leaky “clangers” and soggy Swiss rolls.
Her quest for perfection meant she often baked and re-baked, leaving her short of time. In week eight her oven door fell off, and an over-violent attempt to free chocolate eggs from their mould put her meringue sculpture at risk of smashing to the ground this week. But she had triumphs as well, and was named Star Baker last week.
Mrs Hart said the best thing about the experience was “to challenge myself to do something scary and out of my comfort zone, and the most important thing to me was that I had tried so hard to get on the show.
“It doesn’t matter what age you are or your circumstances; as long as you dedicate yourself to the practice you have a chance of getting in. I still find it strange watching it back, and see that it is me in the tent, it doesn’t somehow feel real.”
Her worst moment? The choux buns. “I was just setting myself up for disaster; I put decoration on the top that wasn’t really needed.
“I gave myself too much to do in the time allowed, so I set myself up for a fall, and wow, I went crashing down. I could kick myself now that I didn’t make it easier for myself, but you can’t wind the clock back.”
Mrs Hart’s self-belief kicked in during the fourth episode, when she won the technical challenge with some competent stroopwaffels.
“I started realising that I could actually compete with the other bakers. At that point, I thought that I might have a chance, or probably that I could do alright, and perhaps I wasn’t as bad as I thought I was.
“If I have a fault it’s that I can easily find fault in myself — I am self-deprecating to such a tough point, but that is just the way I am. If I can make it hard for myself I will, and I did that on nearly every bake.”
Mrs Hart said she had enjoyed going back to her life as a full-time mother to her three sons, who love her glittery biscuits and home-baked challah.
“It was a relief not to be baking up against the clock, and I really quickly got back to baking what I wanted to bake and when I wanted to.
“I thought at the end of my time in the tent I wouldn’t bake for a while, but I did the very next day and I haven’t stopped since.”
What did she learn from her nine weeks in the Bake Off marquee?
“I am a better baker now than I was before, and I learned that it’s good to push boundaries, and also that it’s not good to wear jeans in a hot tent.”