GBBO Season 7: The Final

GBBO Season 7: The Final

By Dayna McAlpine

Where have the weeks gone? A now nearly empty tent houses Andrew, Mr Precision, with his meticulous methods, Candice, with her elaborate creations who complains that baking hasn’t made her fit (we feel you Candice, try working at the delicious. HQ) and home-baking mastermind Jane. So, for one last time, we curled up on the sofa at 8pm on a Thursday

Or if you were Selasi, you were hosting a final-watching party like no other…

The signature challenge: Filled meringue crown

“It’s an open-field going into this final,” Mary declared as the bakers got to work on their meringues… even though Candice’s three star-baker wins trumped the other finalists’ achievements. Our final three were expected to present at least three layers of dazzlingly decorated meringue, and as a bake that’s caused problems this season, it was a clever challenge to bring back.

Did anyone else get serious Benjamina and Selasi flashbacks when everyone was turning their mixing bowls upside down? It’s still too painful to talk about.

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Paul was dishing those handshakes out left right and centre. Candice went for an elaborate design (OBVIOUSLY) incorporating prosecco-soaked strawberries, mango curd and glittered pistachios. “I love the way you’ve got so many flavours there,” munched Mary, with even more praise earned for the texture and colour of her bake (Jane, we clocked you peering). WELL DONE CANDICE, A PAUL HOLLYWOOD HANDSHAKE FOR YOU!

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Jane went the full red (berry compote), white (flesh nectarines) and blue (-berry compote) with a tried and tested Brit-tastic meringue crown that her husband loves, but would the judges feel the same? “Three layers of heaven,” exclaimed Paul as the knife fell gently through the layers. WELL DONE JANE, A PAUL HOLLYWOOD HANDSHAKE FOR YOU!

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Which means… WELL DONE ANDREW, A PAUL… oh no wait, none for Andrew Smyth. Oh Andrew. His Jubilee-crown inspired bake lacked definition, was overpowered by the flavour of his pecan praline, and how he looked the fool when his blackberry pud filling lacked flavour. Oh, and Andrew? The baking paper goes the other way around.

The technical challenge: Victoria sponge

A victoria sponge? In the final? As a technical challenge? Has our own monarch Mary completely lost it?

“Make a victoria sponge using two 20cm tins filled with raspberry jam and buttercream and then dust with icing sugar.”

Ah, so that’s how you’re going to play it.

Armed only with two tins, a few jars of ingredients and that single sentence to guide them, panic ensued in the tent as the finalists desperately wracked their brains to remember how they make their sponges at home.

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“Being out of the handshake club was demoralising.” It was clear Andrew would have to pull it back in this challenge if he was to have any hope of being in with a chance of snatching a crown other than his meringue one.

The brilliance in having a final technical challenge as something as basic as a victoria sponge is that even the tiniest imperfection could mean last place. Andrew took no chances as he weighed every single component of his sponge, even his eggs, to ensure sheer precision. Not that we ever expected anything less from the budding engineer. Jane felt confident in her home-baking knowledge and her narration alone on a certain other finalist’s performance meant we all knew exactly who she saw as her main competition; “Hmmmmm going for seedless over there”… “Mine are flatter than Candice’s!”

Sorry Jane, you weren’t beating the PE-teaching perfectionist in this one with your super chunky sponges and gooey jam. But the over-elaborate sugar-dusted raspberries surrounding Candice’s middle-of-the-pack bake showed the judges she wasn’t confident in her sponge? Shock! Who could the winner of this challenge be?

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Andrew found himself back in the game with a cake his granny would be proud of – the perfect… colour, buttercream, jam, look. He may not have gotten a handshake but he knew he’d pulled himself back from the Bake Off brink.

The showstopper: A picnic fit for the Queen

1 chocolate celebration cake, 12 puff pastry sausage rolls, 12 mini quiches, 12 savoury scones, 12 fruity custard tarts and just 5 hours in which to make the lot. And all with just the one oven.

In the face of the biggest ever showstopper challenge, planning was key to ensure every single one of the 49 bakes were uniform and tasted perfect – so naturally Andrew had an excel spreadsheet timetable with every five minute period being accounted for.

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And I was not ready for the family video supplements – it’s the last GBBO on the BBC, I don’t need more emotional turmoil. “I love Andy to bits!” STOP THIS.

As the bakers stress to get everything done on time, the whole gang from Season 7 assemble outside for the GBBO coronation picnic; Louise, Tom, Val… who am I kidding SELASI YOU’RE HOME!

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Two hours in and Andrew is feeling confident; “If I didn’t have a plan right now I’d be flapping.” Cut to Jane having a minor meltdown as she struggles to get everything baked on time. With half an hour to go the bakers are running laps around the tent, Candice is assembling cross-eyed pigs, Jane’s throwing glitter at a collarless cake (that’s it Jane if in doubt throw glitter at it) and Andrew’s gone his usual shade of scarlet.

With an emotional hug, it’s done. It’s over. The final challenge on the final GBBO as we know it.

First up, Jane. Raw sausage rolls, quiches packed with prawn and salmon, butternut squash scones that didn’t taste of butternut squash, beautiful fruit tarts with pastry “that’s beautifully crisp” and a chocolate cake that lost points on presentation but impressed with taste. Half good, half bad for Jane.

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Andrew got the final soggy bottom of the season with his tarts after dousing them in sugar syrup. His quiches gained praise for their flavour and his chocolate cake (his Granny’s recipe) was absolutely stunning. More raw sausage rolls were served up with bland flavourless scones and it was impossible to tell whether he had topped Jane’s performance.

And then there was Candice. We knew, they knew, the judges knew; she nailed it. Her piggy sausage rolls, if a bit sociopathic were flaky; her quiches were packed with filling, her rhubarb and custard tarts, albeit a little overbaked, were delicious, the scones were fine and the cake impressed Paul and Mary with oil used instead instead of butter.

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It didn’t take long into the 2016 Final of the GBBO to realise that Candice Brown was going to walk away with the crown. Sticky gingerbread carpet, an endless array of innuendos and a lipstick collection that a MAC-counter would envy; Candice brought it every week.

As her name was announced in front of friends, family and fellow bakers she burst into floods, “I did it, I’m good… I’m good enough!”

There’s no denying that Candice deserved it from her performance in the final – the last in a long line of baking legends to walk out of that tent. What next? A book deal, a cookery show, her own line of lipsticks? After that showstopper Jane and Andrew were just never going to top her, as Paul Hollywood says, “when she nails it, she’s one of the best.”

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Regardless of whether you loved it or loathed it, this final marks the end of an era. Who knows where Bake Off will take us in 2017 and more importantly, who’ll be standing in that tent in the place of Mary Berry, Mel and Sue. Goodbye to the GBBO that gave us Edd Kimber, John Whaite, Nadiya Hussain and now Candice Brown (and Selasi, never let go) – it’s been amazing. Now we just have to wait and hope that our Thursday night viewing is soon replaced with a documentary following Val’s baking trip to Ayia Napa. Over to you Channel 4.

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