It’s the final of The Great British Baking Show! The last 10 weeks have just flown by and we are down to the last three bakers! Each of them has won the “star baker” title twice and the ultimate honor of two handshakes from judge Paul Hollywood. The challenges they faced were tricky but allowed them to show off their considerable talent.
For the signature challenge, the bakers were asked to make a decorated carrot cake. They could use whatever complementary flavors, fillings, and decorations they wanted. They had two hours and 15 minutes to make their cake. This was not a lot of time considering the bakers needed to be able to cool their cakes to decorate them. The bakers were all evenly matched in this challenge, receiving a mixture of positive and negative feedback.
Crystelle decided to be ambitious and made a four-tiered spiced carrot cake. Her cakes were sandwiched with orange curd and decorated with pistachio and mascarpone frosting and pistachio praline. Her four-tiered cake didn’t go down too well with the judges though. Due to it being so tall, the sponges had retained some heat and so her curd and frosting had melted slightly. This meant that her sponges had moved and were slightly wonky. Crystelle even had to use dowels to keep her cake upright. However, they loved her flavors and thought they were very well-balanced.
Chigs, who only started baking 18 months ago, was making his second ever carrot cake. His sponges were sandwiched with star anise infused pineapple jam and topped with classic cream cheese icing. The judges loved his decoration and his pipework and also enjoyed the flavor of his pineapple jam. However, they thought his cake was rubbery and stodgy due to the large number of carrots he had used.
Giuseppe made an orange-zest infused carrot cake sponge, sandwiched with fig and walnut jam. This was then decorated with orange cream cheese icing, candied walnuts and fresh figs. Whereas Crystelle and Chigs had made the challenge easier for themselves by baking individual sponges for their layers, Giuseppe made one large cake that he then sliced up. This meant that his cake took a lot longer to bake and didn’t have much time to cool. As a result, his icing had melted slightly and his cakes had shifted a little. The heat also meant that the jam and cream cheese had soaked into the hot sponges, making the judges question at first whether the cake was underbaked or stodgy. Despite this, his cake was pretty but more importantly it was delicious. The judges particularly loved the fig flavor.
For the technical challenge, they were asked to bake 12 Belgian buns filled with sultanas and lemon curd. The judges expected a coiled, slightly chewy bun with a hint of sweetness from the lemon curd. They had two and a half hours to follow the pared back recipe and the bakes were then ranked from worst to best in a blind judging. However, the bakers didn’t quite realise how pared back the recipe would be this week. It contained only two instructions!
Crystelle seemed to be at a slight advantage because she had made a curd in the signature challenge and she knew what Belgian buns were. At first, it seemed like Chigs was going to come in last place due to rolling his dough the wrong way. The way he rolled his buns meant that they were very tall and did not have enough spirals. However, the turning point in this challenge came down to how long to leave the buns in the oven for. Crystelle and Chigs pulled their buns out of the oven quite early to leave themselves with enough time to cool and decorate them. However, Giuseppe decided to leave his in the oven for longer.
Giuseppe’s buns were neatly iced and perfectly shaped. The judges commented that they were exceptional and would have come in first place if he hadn’t left them in the oven for so long. His buns were very dark in color and were very dry and overbaked. This left him in last place.
Chigs came in second due to rolling his buns wrong. They were also a little bit too chewy and solid. This left Crystelle in first place, winning her first ever technical challenge! Her buns were a nice uniform color, had good lemon curd, and tasted nice, even if her icing was a little erratic as she rushed at the end.
For the showstopper challenge, the bakers had four and a half hours to make a Mad Hatter’s tea party display. The judges wanted a display of sweet and savoury afternoon tea treats, showcasing at least four different baking disciplines. They wanted the bakers to capture some of the craziness of Alice in Wonderland whilst producing perfect bakes.
Chigs’ centrepiece was a blue Cheshire Cat cake, flavored with orange curd. This was accompanied by jammy dodger biscuits shaped like playing cards with strawberry, elderflower, and black pepper jam. He also baked chicken and mushroom pocket watch pies and brioche toadstools, filled with lemon and lime crème patissiere. The judges were impressed with the overall look of the display, particularly the cat cake and the playing card biscuits, which were beautiful. However, they were a little disappointed with the lack of smile on the Cheshire Cat because he ran out of time. They thought his pies and brioche were delicious. The playing cards were particularly good with an excellent buttery biscuit but Paul was disappointed that he couldn’t taste the elderflower or black pepper. The cake was delicious and the flavors were very well-balanced.
Giuseppe made a chocolate and hazelnut tear and share brioche mushroom as his centrepiece. This were accompanied by mango and passionfruit drink-me panna cottas, orange and fig heart-shaped muffins, and asparagus and pea-filled choux buns used to make a caterpillar. Giuseppe was really pushing it with the time restraints as he had a lot of baking to do. It almost ended in disaster when he went to put something in the oven and realised that his oven was cold. He had left the door slightly open during pre-heating and so it had turned off. This lost him a lot of valuable time but he managed to pull it together.
The judges thought that Giuseppe’s display was simple but effective. The choux buns were delicious but a little too soft because of the creamy filling. They loved his brioche, though, as it was very complicated with multiple layers but was crisp and delicious. The muffins were cute, soft, and a lovely flavor. The standout were his panna cottas. The judges couldn’t stop eating them! They thought they were delicious and the perfect texture. Both Paul and Prue took their bottle to finish off.
Crystelle’s centrepiece was a focaccia bread clock flavored with za’atar and garlic. This was accompanied by chickpea curry top hats, cardamom and pistachio toadstool nankhatai biscuits, and chai-flavored sponges decorated as talking flowers. Her display looked stunning and very colorful. The judges loved her biscuits which were something they weren’t familiar with. They liked the blend of spices and the fudge-like texture. They also loved her sponges and thought they were delicious and well-balanced. Crystelle’s pies were also lovely and the curry had a nice kick to it, even if the curry was a little solid. However, it all went wrong with her focaccia. The judges said it did not resemble a focaccia at all! There was no rise to it; it was raw and completely inedible. Sadly, this knocked Crystelle out of the running for winning the competition.
For the results this week, there was a garden party for everyone who had been working within the Baking Show bubble. They got to try the bakers’ showstopper treats.
It was a very close decision with all of the bakers receiving mixed feedback on their bakes this week. It was finally announced that Giuseppe was the winner! No one was surprised with this decision except for Giuseppe. It was amazing to watch his reaction go from a complete blank look of shock to pure joy. Crystelle and Chigs were so unbelievably happy for him and he thoroughly deserved the win. He stood out as an amazing baker from week one and was consistent throughout the competition.
The win meant a lot to him personally as well. He got into baking because of his dad, who also loves baking. His dad is currently elderly and in poor health and so Giuseppe was emotional to win this title for him. They now plan to write a recipe book together to pass on their Italian bakes.
Baking Show Best Bits
Here are some of my favorite non-baking moments from this week’s episode!
- Noel bashing carrot cake for the entire signature challenge.
- At the end of the episode, we got to catch up a little with the eliminated bakers. Lizzie and Freya had been on a road trip to visit all the other bakers. There had even been a reunion BBQ at Amanda’s house, sadly lacking Giuseppe who was working in Milan.
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed this season of The Great British Baking Show and we can’t wait for it to return next year. Make sure you check back here for all the latest news.