We’ve reached the end of this season of The Great British Baking show, as PBS smashes together the semi final classic pâtisserie challenge with the finals.
There’s an odd thing about The Great British Baking Show that gets me every time. One minute it’s the first week of the new season and the tent feels filled to the brim with bakers. And then suddenly I turn around and look up and *bam*. There are all of four contestants left in the tent, which looks empty indeed.
For our first signature, we brace for the barrage of Sue and Mel talking in french accents, if not actually grammar school level french and 24 palmiers, which we here in the US call Elephant Ears. Two sets of twelve, but all must be savory flavors. Palmiers are a puff pastry, which means there are discussions of full puff versus rough puff, and yet somehow, even with a Weasley in the Top Four, no one brings up Hufflepuff.
Honestly, the most memorable part of this segment is when Sue and Mel yell at Selasi that his time calls are putting them out of a job, since this episode aired long after the Channel 4 move announcement that caused them to quit the show rather than follow to dough. And now I’m sad about it all over again.
Let’s see how strong these results are. Like with the two-hour première we’ll break these into pass/fail
- Passing the Signature: Andrew
- Half Pass: Jane, Candice
- Failing the Signature: Selasi
Our semi-final technical is set by Paul, and it’s a Savarin. Jane knows what it is: “A round yeasty cake thing.” Candice has heard the word before. Andrew and Selasi look utterly mystified. It’s a creation that was inspired by the French bake known as a baba au rhum.
Everyone is using a mixer, but each contestant seems to have chosen a different attachment, from the dough hook (Jane) the to whisk (Candice) to the paddle (Selasi) to a variety (Andrew.) Glad we’re ALL on the same page guys.
4. Selasi: Color is off, decorations are clumsy.
3. Candice: Underprooved, no definition
2. Andrew: Underprooved, overbaked
1. Jane: Slightly underprooved, but the best of the lot
Jane’s win is more of a default than a success on its own, but still. Let’s move on to the Showstopper, which for Pâtisserie Week is 36 fondant fancies. As always, with these high numbers of small items, they’ll be making two different kids, 18 of each. These are little genoise sponge squares covered with fanciful fondant decors.
Selasi has finally lost his chill. Paul tries to give him a pep talk, but his face is far frettier than we’ve seen all season, and even remade one of his batters because he was worried the first wasn’t good enough. But it puts him farther behind the rest of the group.
Let’s see how these tickle Paul and Mary’s fancies.
Candice’s Chocolate Praline Fondant Fancies/Cherry Bakewell Fondant Fancies The cherry ones are messy on the outside and a bit soft, but the pralines get high marks.
Selasi’s Lime & Ginger Fondant Fancies/Pink Velvet & Raspberry Prosecco Fondant Fancies Paul is amused with how dainty they are. The flavors are meh though, even if the bakes are good.
Jane’s Pistachio & Raspberry Fondant Fancies/Lemon Curd Surprise Fondant Fancies The tops of both bakes are really pretty, and the insides are very tasty. But the sides look like icing poured over gravel.
Andrew’s Philharmonic Fondants This entire display is adorable. The vanilla jam ones are leaking, which makes them look like they’re the musicians that were stabbed by the coffee chocolate rivals. The flavors are a little on the buttery side though.
Andrew is the only one who fully passed the Signature, and his Showstopper blew everyone out of the water. The Weasley takes the last Star Baker before the final! As for who won’t be heading to the next hour, I’m afraid it’s Selasi, who was just too far behind to save himself.
On to The Finale!
Our second Signature bake of this two-hour show is a Filled Meringue Crowns. (Do we feel like Ian might have inspired this from his crown last year? Oh no, right, this time last year, we were still all about the Queen’s 90th.) Three layers of meringue and as fancy as you like.
There’s only three, so we’ll let out finalist have their own bullet points.
- Andrew Crunchy Caramel Cassis Crown Fail. It’s messy, and too sweet.
- Candice Queen Victoria’s Mango & Strawberry Crown Pass. It’s amazing looking and she finished. HOLLYWOOD HANDSHAKE.
- Jane Red, White & Blue Meringue Crown It’s also gorgeous, and the flavors are stunning. Paul calls it “three slices of heaven.” HOLLYWOOD HANDSHAKE x 2.
(Poor Andrew. Handshakeless!)
Our finale Technical is something that might make everyone do a double take: it’s a Victoria sandwich. Wait what? Yes, the technical is a goddamn Victoria sponge, with jam and buttercream! It might seem like “Don’t they make those on the regular?” But! The instructions are “make a Victoria sandwich.” That’s it. So they have to do it completely on the fly from memory.
And! Andrew is absolute crap at cakes. And Candice has been really bad at simple. And Jane is bad at second guessing herself. This is aimed at their weakest spots. Let’s see who cracks.
3. Jane: It rose too much, and the buttercream is melty.
2. Candice: A little too dark and the jam isn’t set.
1. Andrew: He finally conquered the cake. Just in time.
The finale Showstopper is the biggest Showstopper the show has ever done. They entitle it “A Royal Picnic”, which is both in honor of the Queen’s 90th birthday picnic, and the picnic tea party that the show has at the end of every season.
“A Royal Picnic,” what even is that? Let’s bullet point all the things they are required to make for this borderline ridiculous gigantic showstopper:
- 1 chocolate celebration cake
- 12 sausage rolls
- 12 mini quiche
- 12 savory scones
- 12 fruit & custard tarts
In five hours! (Not 20 minutes.) Got all that? Time management and multitasking are key, and then some. Andrew, being his scientific self has a spreadsheet where every single five-minute chunk is broken down as to what he should be doing. That’s also a first I believe. This is a man in search of a handshake.
Jane on the other hand is in timer hell, they keep going on, and because she didn’t label them, she doesn’t quite remember what each one is for. She also has a collar disaster at the last-minute on her cake and looks like she’s going to collapse. As for Candice, this is the most over the top concept the show has ever done. It’s a perfect match, no?
Let’s check out these finale picnic spreads.
Jane’s Family Favorites Feast She’s got a few raw spots on her bakes, but her flavors are top-notch each time. As for the collarless cake, it looks like she planned it this way, and it’s delicious.
Andrew’s Family and Friends’ Favorites Picnic His Sausage roll is underbaked and his scones are flavorless! The quiche is overworked, and the tart collapses from sogginess. The cake looks amazeballs. Paul laughs it’s so good. Andrew finally conquered cakes anyway.
Candice’s Picnic for Pearly Kings and Queens The sausage rolls looks like pigs with ears and tails and are a perfect bake. The quiche are perfect, but the scones are off in flavor — too much olive, not enough cheese. The tarts are great, even if they are slightly overbaked. Her cake, which has a hidden orange layer inside, is lovely.
So let’s review: Jane and Candice tied at Signature, Jane floundered at Technical. Of the three picnics, Candice came out on top, while Andrew failed hardest, which probably negates his first place in Technical.
With maths like that, it seems like Candice is the most reasonable answer for a winner. (Sorry Jane, Sorry Weasleys.) And in fact, that’s the same answer Paul and Mary have come up with.
Congrats to Candice, the final winner of the original version of The Great British Bake Off. Will the Channel 4 version come to PBS next year, or will they hold out for the BBC’s new cooking show? It doesn’t matter. Whatever happens after this, this perfect, fragile beautiful little reality show is now over.
Like the most delicate of bakes, it was lovely while it lasted.