“And now, the end is near. And so I face, the final bake off…” We have finally, and slightly reluctantly, reached the final of Bake Off. It has been an emotional, thrilling, tasty and nerve-wrecking 10 weeks and it’s fair to say we have loved every moment of it. We attached ourselves to these bakers and were with them in the highs and soggy bottoms. Some more than other (we love you Selasi!) and that it is time to say goodbye to Bake Off as we know it, I’m sure this will be a series we will never forget.
Jane, Candice and Andrew, the lucky trio, all fought as hard as they could to secure their spot in the final but it was this week that the real work truly began. Even Mel and Sue watched with bated breath to see who would come out of the tent victorious.
For the final signature bake, the challenge was to create a meringue masterpiece – a meringue crown, in honour of the Queen’s 90th birthday year. The crown had to a minimum of 3 layers, highly decorative and a true wonder to behold. Of course, that meant that Candice was going to make it 4 layers a, colourful and leave you staring at it in envy and hunger.
All the finalists came up with gorgeous designs for their meringues, some opting for multiple meringues using different types of sugar but all with the intention to impress. Jane’s meringue was a red, white and blue pavlova designed to make any true Brit proud. Andrew’s crunchy caramel crown, although tasty, seemed doomed when he was trying to balance it on top of a purple manikin. Candice’s Queen Vic-inspired mango and strawberry meringue (with 4 layers) was definitely making mouths water.
Poor Andrew and Jane didn’t seem to be having the best start as meringues cracked, crumbled and stuck to the wrong slides of baking sheets. I’m pretty sure Candice had been taking zen lessons from Selasi, as she was just coolly rolling from one element to the next.
For the technical, it was a deceptively simple challenge. The bakers had to be make a Victoria sponge sandwich cake, with simple yet perfect raspberry jam and buttercream filling. That’s it. No further instructions, measurements or ingredients were given. This was purely made to test their most basic cooking skill and that is where the challenge lies. Everyone seemed to have their own formula to make the ideal sponge, guessed an adequate time and prayed to the baking Gods that they had got it right. Unfortunately, Jane came in last her slightly goopy jam and overdone bake. Which left Andrew to come out on top, for his was the most technically perfect out of the three. Not too shabby, Andy!
It has to be said, that this week’s showstopper challenge was a harsh one. Perfect for a the final challenge in the final of the series. In honour again of the Queen’s 90th birthday year, the bakers had to create the most perfect and most regal of picnics. Their orders were to create one perfectly perfect chocolate celebration cake, twelve savoury scones, twelve sausage rolls, twelve mini quiches and twelve fruit tarts and this had to be completed in 5 hours. Well, who said the final was meant to be easy?!
Andrew once again took advantage of his engineering background and creating a minute-by-minute spreadsheet in order to keep himself as organised as possible. Jane decided to wing it and hope for the best. Candice, who I’m now definitely sure stole Selasi’s zen, just kept cool under pressure. Between failed designs, the struggle more moistness, the infamous soggy bottoms and burnt tarts, there could only be one champion. And that champion was Candice! She taught the importance of cooking with flair and always knowing where your lipstick is. A consistent baker and often Star Baker, she was a winner that you could just see coming and taking the crown. Or in this case, the meringue crown.
This show will always mean so much to so many, not only for being thoroughly entertaining, but for making us realise how much baking is a part of our national DNA. We will from now on have to look back on the memories of moist bakes, soggy bottoms and inappropriately shaped bakes and hope, pray and beg that Channel 4 do a good job. We will miss our fabulous foursome, Mel, Sue, Mary and Paul. We will miss the tent on the Beeb. We will miss how the nation can be so gripped by baking controversies such as ‘bingate’, that they can even be discussed in parliament and become headline news. We will miss the Bake Off squirrel, that didn’t make an appearance this series. We will never forget you, The Great British Bake Off. You or your amazing baking recipes, puns and innuendos.
But before all that sadness and longing, we have the Christmas Bake Off to look forward to. Bring on the festive bakes!!