There are spoilers about the episode in this article.
Sadly, we have reached the final episode of The Great British Baking Show, which has been a fabulous distraction from the year we have been having. Laura, Dave, and Peter are competing to try to win the competition, judged by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, and it will be a close finish!
For their signature challenge, the bakers were asked to make eight custard slices. They had two and a half hours to make a laminated, flaky pastry topped with a silky-smooth set custard and they had to be beautifully decorated.
The bakers all made rough puff pastry which was rather difficult since the temperature was high in the tent yet again. They also faced difficulties with getting the custard to set in time, particularly as it became more unlikely to set when extra flavors were added. Dave and Peter hoped to combat this by adding butter to their custards to thicken them whereas Laura added a lot of gelatine.
During the challenge, the bakers were all shown receiving messages from their families back home. Usually during the final, the friends and families of the finalists are all invited for a garden party where the winner is revealed. Obviously, due to COVID, that couldn’t happen this year and so they were all sent words of encouragement from home.
Laura made yuzu custard slices topped with chantilly cream and lemon and coconut gel. She aimed to sandwich her custard with pastry. Unfortunately, Laura had several issues with her slices. She had problems with the butter leaking out of her pastry in the oven. Her biggest problem was that her custard did not set. It was heart-breaking to watch her remove her custard from the tin and watch her pastry slide off. She desperately tried to salvage the situation but her pastry on top of the custard was sliding off and leaning. Once the bake was finished, she started to cry into the fridge and was comforted by Dave and host, Noel Fielding. She was embarrassed when presenting her slices since they were a mess. The judges were shocked that her custard did not set even though she had used 10 leaves of gelatine, and they said it should have set like concrete. Paul suggested that the yuzu flavor may have broken the gelatine down. She was not saved by her pastry since the leaking of the butter caused it to be very hard and had lost its color. They loved the flavors, though.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) November 24, 2020
Dave made caramel latte inspired custard slices. He had a coffee flavored custard topped with a caramel glaze and caramelized hazelnut spikes. Unfortunately, he ended up ditching the hazelnuts since the caramel was still too hot when he was decorating, and he risked his custard melting if he used them. He instead had lines of chocolate decorating the top, which he argued were intentionally wobbly. His pastry was lovely and flaky. Despite Dave being worried about the coffee being too strong, the judges loved it. However, they did think his custard was a little stodgy.
Peter set himself up for more of a challenge since he actually made two different custards. He made Scottish cranachan custard slices containing a whisky custard and a raspberry custard topped with caramelised porridge oats. The judges were impressed with his slices as they looked neat and professional. He had nice, flaky pastry and they loved the oats on top. His custard had a beautiful flavor although they thought it was a little too thick.
For the technical challenge, the bakers had to follow a recipe set by Prue, to make eight little walnut whirls in two hours. The whirls featured a walnut sable biscuit base, coffee ganache filling, surrounded by marshmallow, and coated in tempered chocolate. The judges were looking for soft marshmallow and ganache, perfectly tempered chocolate with the distinctive whirl pattern caused by the chocolate coating the marshmallow.
The bakers faced problems, particularly having to temper chocolate in the 35 degree Celsius heat. They managed to keep themselves cool by freezing tea towels and then wrapping them around their necks. Tempered chocolate needs to be heated and then cooled to roughly 27 degrees, which was difficult when the air was warmer than this. The bakers all struggled and ended up resorting to using ice baths or stirring chocolate in the fridges. They all lost precious time struggling with this, though.
Laura and Peter both also had problems with the marshmallow. Laura hadn’t whisked her egg whites enough when she added her sugar syrup so her marshmallow didn’t work, forcing her to make it again. Peter made his batch and it was a little too soft. He thought it might be alright but when he assembled his whirls, his marshmallow started melting.
The technical challenge is judged blind, so the judges do not know which bake belongs to which baker. The bakes are then judged from worst to best. Laura came in third place since her chocolate did not set and her biscuit, although delicious, needed longer in the oven. Both her ganache and marshmallow were lovely and soft, though.
Peter managed to salvage his bake somehow and was placed in second. His whirls looked the messiest because of his marshmallow melting, which resulted in him losing the distinctive whirl pattern. His biscuit also needed longer in the oven. However, he saved himself by having a well set chocolate, a perfect ganache, and his coffee flavor was very good.
Dave came in first place. His swirls looked lovely even if his chocolate was not quite set. His biscuit was great as the judges liked the color and the fact that he had made his biscuit quite thick, balanced out the sweetness of the rest of the whirl. His ganache was alright although it could have been darker but his flavors were very good.
For the showstopper challenge, the bakers had four and a half hours to produce a dessert tower. The tower had to reflect their personal experience on the show. It had to feature a large cake at its base and the rest of the tower had to showcase at least three other baking disciplines.
Laura made a rainbow dessert tower inspired by her favorite inspirational G.K. Chesterton quote about there being no rainbow without the rain. It showcased some of her baking triumphs from the competition. Her cake featured a large carrot and walnut cake with orange and cinnamon cream cheese frosting. Her other baking elements included spicy chocolate orange Chelsea buns, lemon macarons, and key lime tarts.
Laura chose her elements to play to her strengths but she didn’t seem to consider how the elements would look stacked together in a tower. Individually, her elements looked lovely but looked odd together. She also had to use non-edible supports since her nougatine supports were too big and one broke in the rush of assembly. The judges thought her cake was beautiful as it was moist, full of flavor, and perfectly baked. Her key lime pies also tasted lovely. Her Chelsea buns and macarons both had lovely flavors and textures. They complimented her on being a very good baker but left it unsaid that, once again, her bakes tasted amazing but her decoration fell short.
Peter also wanted to showcase some of his previous baking triumphs in his “Bonkers Bake Off Bubble” cake. He made a Victoria sponge cake with fresh strawberries and cream, and blackberry and lemon choux buns. This was then topped with a puffed rice Christmas tree covered with friand Christmas puddings and chocolate and orange Christmas present biscuits. He wanted to represent the challenge, uncertainty, and joy of the show.
For once, we saw Peter start to lose his calm and in control demeanour. He seemed to panic a little when making his chequerboard biscuits. He made them a little thicker than planned and when trying to fix this, he turned them into striped biscuits. He then decided to just remake them so they were chequerboard. He also began to run out of time and started multi-tasking, slightly dangerously, leaving his caramel cooking whilst assembling his cake. Miraculously, nothing went wrong whilst he was doing this.
The judges liked the design of his cake, particularly the Christmas tree, even if it was a little bonkers. They thought his cake was delicious even if it was a little drier than Prue was expecting. They also loved his choux buns as the blackberry flavor was sharp and delicious and the filling was silky-smooth, with the buns nicely baked. His biscuits were delicious, although they were beginning to become a little soggy. They weren’t impressed with his friands, as they were doughy and a bit stodgy. Overall, Peter pulled off a very impressive showstopper even if a couple of his elements weren’t perfect.
Dave took a massive risk and instead of celebrating his triumphs, he wanted to remake his baking failures in his “Tower of Redemption”. He made a fraisier cake with amaretto syrup, raspberry profiteroles, chocolate babkas and white chocolate and macadamia nut brownies. He struggled with all of these bakes in previous episodes. Dave was very efficient with his time and actually finished slightly early. This gave him a chance to sit around and taste some of his baking and offer to help some of the other bakers as well.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) November 24, 2020
The judges thought Dave’s cake looked enticing and original but were concerned about his risky concept. They loved his cake, as it was delicious and light. His brownies were perfectly gooey, which he had failed at last time as they were previously cake-like. When he previously made babkas, he took them out of the oven too early. This time he took them out too late and although the flavor was good, the dough was tough. His choux buns also did not go to plan as they were not baked for long enough. They were flat and slightly soggy, which was not helped by the fact that the filling inside was too wet. His fraisier cake was one of the nicest things Prue had eaten but he was let down by a couple of his other elements.
Usually for the final the bakers are joined by their friends and families, however this was unable to happen due to COVID. Instead, everyone who had been working within the bubble on the show was invited to the garden party. This was a lovely gesture and host Matt Lucas made sure to thank everyone for giving up their time with their families to isolate and work on the show.
The judges admitted that Laura was out of the running. Although her flavors were good, her bakes this week did not stand up to the other bakers.
The judges said that this year was as close to a draw as they had ever had. Peter managed to swing it with his showstopper and signature bakes and became the youngest winner and the first Scottish winner of the show! He was delighted, as he has loved the show since watching season three when he was 12-years-old.
Dave was a gracious runner-up and was so happy for Peter, despite it being so close. Laura knew that she didn’t come close to winning and was just very happy to have received some flowers.
The finale left many viewers in tears as the end of the show dedicated the season to everyone who helped us to get through 2020. It then showed a montage of what the bakers had been up to in the show, including Rowan learning to make his own waistcoats and the birth of Dave’s son, Ronnie. It was also dedicated to the memory of baker Luis Troyano, the season five runner-up who sadly died this year.
I can’t believe The Great British Baking Show is over for another year! It has been a ray of sunshine this year with all of the doom and gloom and we will miss it until it returns next year.