THE FINALS (GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF RECAP)
In the beginning, there were twelve bakers. (Ah, I miss Val. I wonder what she thought of Ed Sheeran on Game of Thrones.) Now there are three: Candice, Jane, and Andrew.
Candice’s dress is amazing, and this is probably my favorite lip color of hers. (If you need a rundown of all of her lip colors, week by week, here you go.)
This is a really astounding trio of bakers, and it’s really anyone’s bake off. All three have strengths and weaknesses, and all three are incredibly talented.
The signature for the final is a filled meringue crown. Three layers of meringue, at least, and beautifully decorated, in three hours. Paul loves to give the final bakers challenges that poke their weak spots, so another go at meringue it is for this brave trio.
Jane’s meringue crown will be red, white and blue with fruit layers, including strawberries, white nectarines, and blueberries. It’s her husband’s favorite.
All three bakers are making a pavlova style meringue, which is a meringue that should be crispy on the outside and pillowy and marshmallowy on the inside.
Candice is adding glitter to her meringue crown, and her crown will have an extra tiny crown on top of it, as well as jeweled pistachios.
Everyone tests their meringue by turning it upside down like blizzards at the Dairy Queen. (The Dairy Queen closest to my house doesn’t participate in that “upside down blizzard” nonsense, which is really curmudgeonly of them.)
Andrew’s also adding some gold luster to his crown, which is a recreation of the Queen’s jubilee crown. He’ll also have a pecan praline center with a blackberry fool filling.
The meringues take quite a while to bake--close to an hour. While the meringues bake, they need to work diligently on their fillings and toppings. Compotes, pralines, curds, all need to be delicious and provide a complementary sharp flavor to offset the sweetness of the meringue.
With forty five minutes left, the bakers are now entering the cooling stage for the meringue. The meringue is prone to cracking when they encounter temperature changes, so one strategy is to let your meringue cool in the oven with the door cracked to mitigate the shock of temperature changes.
“You can’t out Candice Candice,” Jane muses, as Candice effortlessly removes her tiny Victoria crowns from their molds.
With fifteen minutes, the bakers start assembling their tiers, without tears, we hope. Andrew’s putting his crown on a model of a head, which seems absolutely bonkers, but that’s Andrew for you. His cheeks are so red! Poor nervous Andrew.
They begin judging with Andrew. He’s lost some definition by using muscavado sugar. Mary finds the praline overpoweringly sweet. Paul likes the jelly, and while he doesn’t like the praline middle, he likes the effect it has visually.
Candice’s crown holds together well. Her flavors are good, the curd sharp and the meringue pillowy, and it earns a Hollywood handshake.
Jane is last but not least. Her meringue cuts very well--the knife just falls through. Mary appreciates the sharp nectarines on the top layer. Her crown also earns a Hollywood handshake. “Three layers of heaven,” Paul says.
For their last technical challenge This bake will be very familiar but there are one or two tricky things about. They need to make a Victoria sandwich in ninety minutes. The recipe says make a Victoria sandwich with raspberry jam and buttercream.
The bakers need to make decisions about number of eggs, weight of the ingredients, and whether to use the creaming or all in one method. Andrew is really flipping out, while Jane and Candice seem a bit more confident about making the Victoria sandwich. They keep talking about how they’re making it how they make it at home, while Andrew is struggling to remember how to make it, period.
With five minutes the bakers begin assembling their sandwiches, spreading their jam, piping their buttercream, and hoping for the best.
Candice’s jam hasn’t set, and the judges don’t like that it is seedless. The buttercream is grainy. Andrew’s buttercream is neat, his jam is good, and the sponge tastes good. Jane’s is a little dark, with a large rise. The buttercream is a little soft and the jam is thick. Overall it has a good flavor.
Jane comes in third, Candice is second, and Andrew is first in the final technical.
It’s still anyone’s bake off at this point as we go into the final showstopper. Their showstopper is to make a picnic fit for a queen: one chocolate celebration cake, 12 sausage rolls, 12 mini quiches, 12 savory scones, and 12 custard tarts, in five hours. Forty nine total items! This is a batshit challenge, y’all. And bringing the Queen into it! Really! Paul’s expecting perfection. Andrew has a spreadsheet, of course. Every five minutes are planned for.
Oh, the adorable background on the bakers, the best part of the final. Adorable Candice! Adorable Andrew! Jane and her amazingly attractive children!
The bakers are starting with their pastry, since it needs time to chill, then moving onto their chocolate cake.
As regimented as Andrew is, Jane’s approach is to just keep on keeping on and hope for the best. And she’s attempting another chocolate collar! Andrew is calmed by his spreadsheet, while Jane is a bit frazzled.
49 bakes and one oven! How is this humane? TOO MANY BAKES.
We check in with eliminated bakers attending the picnic to see who they think will win. Val’s money is on Candice, Tom backs Jane, and Selasi wants Andrew to win (of course he does).
With thirty minutes to go, it seems like an impossible task for the bakers to finish. Candice is burning the shit out of her pastry, Andrew is NOT MEASURING his sausage pastry (the hell, Andrew!), and Jane is once again attempting her chocolate collar at the last moment. It’s over chilled and it won’t come off, so she has to improvise.
With five minutes left, the bakers frost cakes, apply shards, and arrange their bakes for their last ever showstopper. Time is called, and the bakers collapse in a group hug. EMOTIONAL MONTAGE BEFORE JUDGING. Everyone has imposter syndrome, everyone is still adorable, I want everyone to win.
Jane is judged first. Her spread looks regal. Her sausage rolls have some raw pastry, but the flavor is delicious. Her quiche are pale but baked, and taste very good. Her scone tastes like a cheese scone but needed a bit more kick. Her custard tarts have crisp pastry and good filling. Her chocolate cake has a nice surprise filling, and the chocolate cake is light and soft.
Andrew is second. Mary calls it “beautifully displayed.” His sausage roll tastes good, but his pastry is too thick and undercooked. His scones look lovely, but the flavor is lacking. His quiche is neat, crispy pastry, and has a delicious flavor. His strawberry custard tart has a soggy bottom, but the taste is good. For his chocolate cake, Mary thinks the shards are beautiful, and both judges think it’s a very, very good chocolate cake.
Candice is last. Mary loves her little piggies looking at her. The puff pastry is good, with flaky layers. Her quiche is crispy with a tasty filling. Her scone has a good color, but the olive overpowers the cheese. Her tart has a good custard and crisp pastry, despite being a little overbaked. Her chocolate cake is a lovely cake.
Now for the final decision. A case can be made for all the bakers, and they’re all really very deserving. The three finalists step forward and hold hands before Candice is announced as the winner, and everyone screams in delight, including, probably, Candice’s adorable pug.
And that’s the end of the bake off/baking show as we know it. Next time it returns, there will be new hosts, one new judge (Paul is staying on, so you’ll still get to see him stuffing bakes in his maw), and a new channel. Will it be any good? Who knows.
Until then, just think about how Candice and Jane are baking bffs, and go on baking road trips together.
Thanks for reading, everyone, and happy baking.