Sam Fearnley reviews the greatly anticipated GBBO final
Such was the level of anticipation for this year’s Bake Off final that I had to boycott Facebook, Twitter and my own mother in order to avoid any spoilers. A tense few minutes passed before it appeared on iPlayer, and our flat settled into a concentrated calm.
For the contestants coming into the final, it really was all to play for. Ian had immediately stood out, having shown immense potential and winning Star Baker three times in a row. Despite shining bright at the start, he had been slipping for the last couple of weeks. Nadiya had had a shaky start to the competition, but had recently impressed with her innovative flavours and ideas. Tamal had been consistently strong, though had struggled with timings.
The programme started similarly to any of the other episodes. The first challenge was iced buns: potentially not something which one would first think of for the final of a baking competition, but, nevertheless, a series of errors were made. Tamal and Nadiya were stressing, and Ian even forgot to add the sugar. I would claim that that was a rookie mistake, but I can’t say that I’ve ever been in the GBBO final, so I don’t feel particularly qualified to make that remark.
Ian’s buns (yes, before you ask, that innuendo was most definitely exploited by Mel Giedroyc) were heavily criticised by Paul and Mary. Nadiya’s only criticism was a lack of icing sugar, and Tamal’s icing wasn’t up to scratch.
The second challenge, the technical challenge, was a millefeuille. As a regular frequenter of the Patisserie Valerie window displays, I knew that this was a tough one. The contestant’s endeavours were not helped by the recipe, which contained solely the bare essentials.
Ian and Nadiya’s bakes both excelled, with Nadiya coming first and Ian second. Tamal’s mistake? He compacted his grated butter together before rolling out his pastry. Who even knew that there was more than one way to use grated butter?
The third round came quickly, and, being the showstopper, it was all to play (bake) for. The brief this time was a multi-tiered, singly-flavoured cake. Nadiya came into the final very strong, and you could tell she had the passion and determination to pull through as the winner. Ian was not leaving without a fight, however. What he did leave out, however, was the oranges of his orange-flavoured carrot cake. Though his hopes of glory seemed jeopardised he (somehow) managed to rectify the situation, and received the compliment of ‘one of the best carrot cakes I’ve ever tasted’ from Paul.
Nadiya’s creation was praised to the rafters as well, and Tamal’s also amazed. He said his cake was inspired by a deserted Chinese fishing village (had he misheard “British”?) and the cake seemed to glow with some intricate sugar work.
Despite Tamal and Ian’s best efforts, I think everyone knew Nadiya was going to take the crown, or rather, celebratory cake stand/trophy. She cried as she was told she had won, and even Mary had to walk away from the camera tearing up. Nadiya was a very deserving winner. She was passionate, tenacious, and inventive. She later commented on how she had grown throughout the process:
“I’m never going to put boundaries on myself ever again. I’m never going to say I can’t do it. I’m never going to say maybe. I’m never going to say I don’t think I can. I can and I will.”
A great end to a great series. Long may the Bake Off continue.
Featured image credit: https://pixabay.com