Whisks at the ready! Who will win The Great British Bake Off final?
Over the past two months, I’ve found myself inexplicably gripped by a series set in an unglamorous tent, and featuring the decidedly undramatic ingredients of flour, eggs, milk and butter.
For a self-confessed mageirocophobic (look it up), I have been gripped by the trials, tribulations and fiendish challenges of The Great British Bake Off, and feel bereft that it’s taken me till series three to watch this increasingly popular show.
Now the final is upon us – and Brendan, John and James are preparing to do battle in the Bake Off tent tonight. On the menu are the triple challenges of pithivier, chiffon sponge and a selection of fondant fancies. After nine nail-biting episodes, and more flour, eggs and fat you can shake a whisk at, it all comes down to this.
For much of the series, it looked like Brendan was a shoo-in to be crowned winner of this series, but in recent weeks dark horse James has snuck up with a masterful display of creative pastries, cakes and gateaux. And what of John – can he overcome the odds to be crowned winner?
Quiet, confident Brendan has carved a niche for himself as a perfectionist with a stunning visual flair. But perfectionism comes at a price – every time Paul and Mary sample his latest efforts, Brendan’s eyes stay fixed on their faces, drinking in every reaction. Even the smallest whiff of criticism of his baking skills causes a palpable flash of pain to cross his face.
He’s achieved Star Baker twice this series – for his sponge puddings, strudel and queen of puddings – and for his tortes and meringues – but fell afoul of Paul and Mary when he presented his over the top Disney-esque gingerbread house (complete with breakfast cereal roof) in episode 8.
Will Brendan be able to rein in his decorative excesses and produce a perfect pithivier (no, I’d not heard of it before now either) in the final?
Perpetually-flustered John has had more baking drama in this series than all the other contestants put together. He has flashes of brilliance in between many nail-biting frets about burning, flavour (or lack thereof) and serious injury (who can forget his blood filled glove?).
He achieved Star Baker for his flatbreads, bagels and a tricky eight-strand plaited loaf, but still remains self-critical to the last. He can often be found panicking and spooning a less-than-perfect bake mixture into the bin, before starting all over again.
Will he be able to hold his nerve and pull off the ultimate baking challenge in the final?
A seemingly devil-may-care baker, young, enthusiastic James approaches each challenge with a ‘make it up as you go along’ attitude, with a pinch of experimentation and often a dash or two of whisky.
In baking terms, James is almost the opposite of perfectionist Brendan – his gingerbread barn looked like it would be an inedible, creaky, haunted house disaster – but was declared a masterpiece by Paul and Mary, and earned him his second Star Baker title of the series. He achieved his third Star Baker badge for pulling off a trio of French fancies – including petit fours, a masterpiece Tour de France choux gateau and Fraisier cakes.
Will James be able to put the brakes on his runaway experimentation for the final, or will he create a chiffon sponge in the shape of intergalactic centaur? (probably not).
The Great British Bake Off, 8pm, Tuesday 16th October, BBC2.
What do you think of this series and who do you think will win the final? Let us know below.
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