Baking GBBO

GBBO Episode 10 - The Final

So it’s over. Seven years of baking perfection on the BBC drew to a close as an estimated 14 million of us tuned in to see a tearful and emotional Candice Brown take the title and almost collapse with the shock of it all.  It may be just baking but it has meant much more to us than that.

In a world in which the news is almost unremittingly grim, there was a joyful relief in sitting down every week to an hour’s entertainment when the sun nearly always shone, people were actually nice to each other, age didn’t matter and old fashioned values such as modesty, kindness and love for family were celebrated. The bakers looked like us and baked like us – not too perfect, definitely amateur but always striving to do their best. They were our representation in the aptly named ‘tent of dreams’.

And it gripped us all – old and young, men and women, city slickers and country bumpkins, trend-setters, train-spotters, fashionistas, farmers – anyone and everyone felt at home in the bake-off tent. Will Channel 4 be able to maintain the inclusivity and warm magic of this unique piece of programming alchemy? Who knows – we will see. But for the time being – farewell old friend. This was your final BBC final – the best bits.

Crowning Glory

As the final dawned on our three remaining bakers any one of the trio could have been crowned winner. “It’s an open field,” said Mary. “I haven’t any idea of who is going to win.” And indeed, it did seem really close this year.

If anyone had an eyelash ahead of the others it was Candice who had been star baker three times and seemed over the last few weeks, to be peaking at the right time. She certainly had been working hard “I’m definitely struggling to fit into clothes currently,” she smiled. However, she looked her usual neat and glamorous self, choosing pillar box red lippy to fight the final with. Gorgeous.

Fittingly, the final offered us a right royal send off.  A meringue crown was the first challenge - in the form of at least three layers of dazzlingly decorated meringue. Jane chose to bake her husband’s favourite dessert – although if he gets a pudding like this with his Sunday roast every week he’s a lucky man. Her red, white and blue theme was based around blueberries, strawberries and white peaches.

Purple reigned in Andrew’s corner as he created a Queen’s Jubilee crown with a crunchy praline topping. Blackberry and cassis jelly ‘jewels’ were added to his crown of blackberries and the whole creation was delicately transferred to a violet coloured mannequin head. However, sadly, Paul and Mary were not so thrilled with Andrew’s masterpiece. His addition of muscavado sugar meant that the meringue had too little definition and the praline was too sweet.

Candice, as you will have guessed, stormed it, with her mountain of meringue topped with a tiny little Queen Victoria crown – perfect. Much to her delight she was awarded the Hollywood handshake, and was only slightly put out when he offered the same shake – but this time double handed – to a pink and delighted Jane for her “three layers of heaven”.

“He’s giving out handshakes willy-nilly,” remarked the marginally miffed Candice, whilst poor Andrew was really feeling the pressure. “I’m definitely at the back of the pack at the moment,” he grimaced. “To be out of the handshake club was a little demoralising.”

Home Chef Can Help…

  • Colouring Paste - Candice added a squirt of her signature fuschia to her piping bag to create pink streaks in her meringue kisses. Very pretty and very simple – choose your favourite colour from the Home Chef set.
  • Half Sphere Moulds - Candice used one of these to make a perfect little Queen Victoria crown. You could use yours to create individual Christmas puddings or make chocolate cups for your desserts.

We Are Not Amused… 

As usual the technical put the bakers on the spot. This time it was a brilliant Mary challenge – it sounded simple – every baker knows how to make a Victoria sandwich. But without any instructions? Two lines were all they got. Classic, elegant and fiendishly clever – just like lovely Mary herself.

Andrew knew he had it all to do. “I’m weighing the eggs – it seems like the right thing to do,” he informed us. He also decided to cream the butter and sugar before adding the eggs and flour, whilst the other two stuck to the all in one method. This put him a bit behind with his timing and he was the last to get his cake in the oven, but it was to pay off in the end.

Candice decided to sieve her raspberry jam which did not turn out to be her best move. Paul and Mary decided it was “more of a jelly than a jam” and this together with her slightly over-browned sponge meant that she was piggy in the middle in the final placings.

Jane came a very close third. “It’s been very difficult for us,” said a genuinely torn Paul, and indeed it did seem that Jane’s gluey jam was only a tiny fraction less appealing than Candice’s jelly.

A jubilant Andrew therefore took top spot, restoring his manly pride and dignity. It seemed only right that this most technical and perfectionist of bakers should triumph in the final technical challenge. His mum revealed that he had missed his own university graduation ceremony to practise baking for the programme – that’s dedication above and beyond the call of duty. He deserved his moment of glory.

Home Chef Can Help…

  • Recipes - If you’re looking for cookery inspiration a quick look through the recipes on the Home Chef website might help you find the perfect dish. The library of lovely ideas is always being added to so keep logging in – you never know what treasures you might find. 
  • Picnic Ware - The show stopper was all about creating a picnic fit for Her Majesty. It may not be mid-summer now, but we, Like the Queen, love a picnic at any time of year. Wrap up warm and light a camp fire – the kids will love it. Find all you need to create a perfect picnic at Home Chef.

Arise Lady Candice 

So to the show stopper. “One of the most exciting we’ve ever had,” according to Mary. A picnic fit for Her Majesty was required, complete with 49 individual pastries, scones, tarts, quiches and cakes.  They had five hours to bake their little socks off. Not only was shortcrust pastry both sweet and savoury required, but the buttery layers of puff pastry needed to be rolled to perfection.

A chocolate cake was ordered by the judges, and this proved to be the making and the breaking of our terrific trio. Jane once more plumped for making a chocolate collar for her triple layered cake – Paul gave her a long, cool warning look  – but she was confident that this time it would be a simple task. Oh dear. It was not to be. Once again a chocolate collar was the downfall of this likeable and hard-working contestant who flew the flag for the more mature baker whilst holding down her garden design business and running a family. A worthy finalist.

When it came to the judging Andrew’s hamper of family favourites certainly looked the part and were finished with his usual precision, but disappointed in the eating. As the judges worked their way through his different bakes, we began to worry that they would all be damned with faint praise. However, to his delight - and ours, his chocolate cake baked to his grandmother’s recipe saved the day. “That’s great cake,” smiled a content Paul.

“I’m sure the queen would like this colourful selection, it does look right royal,” said an admiring Mary about Jane’s delicious display. Her sweet tarts, fruity and pretty with the requisite crunchy bottoms and a redcurrant garnish, were the stars of the show, and her salmon and prawn tarts also got the seal of approval.

But of course, this challenge was all about the mighty Candice who managed to stay calm throughout and revealed an endearing vulnerability that hitherto had not been discernible. “I always think everyone else’s is better,” she remarked after the technical, but we knew that this was a girl with guts and determination. “Candice will go hell for leather to get what she wants,” said her proud father whose London pub has inspired some of his daughters most memorable bakes.

The judges were thrilled by the standard in this “humdinger of a showstopper”, but there was little doubt who was queen of the bake-off this year. Her pastry flaked , her flavours dazzled and her cake was delicious. The traditional bake-off tea party attended by family, friends and ex-bakers and complete with sumptuous country-style bouquets of meadow flowers, was thrilled to see Mel announce Candice as the well-deserved winner.

“I thought, I wished and I hoped it was ok but you just don’t know,” she sobbed. “I did it. I’m good enough, I don’t know what else to say.”
Congratulations Candice. And as the sun sets over the marquee for final time, thank-you BBC for the bake-off experience, and thank-you Mary, Mel and Sue for your invaluable and irreplaceable part in it.

Paul – we will see you next year. Bring it. We need the bake-off – it makes us feel just that little bit better about this world we live in.

Home Chef Can Help…

  • Brioche Tin - Our winner baked her sweet tarts in little brioche tins  - Mary approved.  
  • Champagne Glasses -  It’s all over. Time to celebrate Candice’s success and your own baking prowess with a glass of Champagne. Cheers. 

Look back over the whole bake-off story on our Home Chef Facebook page – @HomeChefUK.

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