And so it ends for another year! The three finalists took their last walk over that little bridge into the Bake Off tent for their three final challenges. Kimberley, the ‘flavour magpie’ who is always confident and knowledgable about her bakes. Ruby, the youngest baker who often lets the pressure affect her and lacks self confidence despite delivering on flavour. And Frances, who makes everything she bakes looks stunning, but often lacks in the substance department.
The first challenge was to make a savoury picnic pie using shortcrust pastry that was elaborate looking, had a layered design on the inside, and was presented out of the tin – so no soggy bottoms allowed! Paul explained that himself and Mary wanted to see the bakers use pastry again to see if they had learnt anything. He wanted crispy and golden brown pastry that formed a crispy case for the fillings. Mary was after clear layers of fillings, good flavour, texture and apperance – basically she wanted it to be perfect!
We learnt about the back story of the bakers. Frances’ mother cannot taste due to an injury on her nose, which could explain some of the substance issues Frances has experienced! Both Frances and Ruby were making a pie with weaved pastry and lattice effects. Kimberley’s pie was decorated with pink pig shaped pastry pieces and green fencing around the sides.
Ruby and Frances did very well, I thought Ruby’s pie looked fab with the basket effet. Kimberley’s pie suffered from too much moisture and collapsed. She said in practice it hadn’t worked well once, so I was confused as why she chose this for the final. It was a very clever idea and I was disappointed it didn’t work
The technical challenge was to make twelve pretzels using a Paul Hollywood recipe. Six orange and poppyseed pretzels, and six savoury pretzels. A deep glossy coat, dense chewy interior, and for them to be tied in classic pretzel knot was requested. I’ve made Pretzels before (see post), and although mine weren’t ‘Paul Hollywood style’, I think they came out great and they were delicious. I didn’t find this to be a massively difficult challenge and I was expecting something as bit more complicated, but I think this could have been a case of the judges re-testing the bakers on bread.
All three contestants struggled with the challenge. Especially with remembering what a pretzel knot looked like! Even Mel and Sue couldn’t help. Frances ended up with bun shaped pretzels and came third, Ruby over boiled her pretzels and came second, and Kimberley nailed it with a good bake, break and colour and came in first.
The final and showstopper challenge was to make a three tiered wedding cake, of any size, and shape, with an immaculate design and an incredible finish. The three finalist bakers were given six hours to do this, and Frances commented that most wedding cakes are made in six days. Timing was tight as ever!
Frances made a Midsummer Night’s Dream Wedding Cake with tiers of ginger and rhubarb, lemon victoria sponge filled with raspberries and cream, and carrot, apricot and orange, she decorated it with edible confetti made from dried mango, beetroot, sweet potato, and pineapple. I thought her cake looked the most attractive, although I did agree with Mary that the back of the cake was left bare.The judges thought the cakes were moist and well baked, they liked the flavours but could not taste the rhubarb. Out of the three, I’d want this one at my wedding!
Kimberley made a Languages Of Love Wedding Cake, with tiers of chocolate fudge, orange and pistachio checkerboard, and lemon and elderflower cake with poppyseed buttercream, covered in sugarpaste and fondant. The appearance of the cake was rather underwhelming, for both myself and judges. However the inside looked exciting and showed technique and originality, the judges also loved the taste. This was a really tough one and a case of substance over style!
Ruby made a Raspberry, Lemon & Passion Fruit Wedding Cake, the top was a victoria sponge with passion fruit curd, the middle a victoria sponge filled with fresh raspberry and marscapone cheese, and the bottom a lemon victoria sponge with lemon curd. Decorated in sunset colours. Paul and Mary thought it was too simple, and that she had not shown enough techniquies. They said it tasted good, but two of the tiers were overbaked and dry. I was very disappointed by the appearance of the cake, after such an amazing picnic pie at the start. It looked quite messy and no sign of the immaculate finish requested. They were just simple victoria sponges stacked up and there was no technique involved. It should have been a culmination of her talent and what she had learnt during the show, but it fell flat in my opinion.
It was so hard to guess who might win as the bakers fluctuated massively in this episode! I certainly don’t envy the judges for deciding this one! What they pointed out was that Frances had learnt the most, she had also shown that she had listened to their advice and grown throughout the show. I think this is what the judges are after, as well as natural talent of course! And of course, Frances was crowned the winner! I was surprised, but happy, and I think the best person won.
I haven’t baked anything this week. A wedding cake was quite obviously out of the question, the picnic pie didn’t inspire me much, and I’ve already made pretzels (although I may make them again!). Take a look at my series of Great British Bake Off baking by clicking here.