The Great British Bake Off: 7.10 The Final

As with any reality television contest, once it gets to the final anything can happen. Sheer mediocrity or stellar performances in the past nine weeks count for nothing. Strangely no-one has really impressed so far, Candice has won Star Baker only three times, Jane has been relatively consistent and Andrew... made working gears out of pies. Now it was all up for grabs.

With the final taking on a Royal theme the signature challenge was a family-sized Filled Meringue Crown. Nerves were aflutter, Jane wished her fellow contestants good luck before praying to the ‘Meringue Gods’ while Andrew was juggling a mixing bowl. Once he gained concentration, Andrew employed his engineering skills for a ‘Crunchy Caramel Cassis Crown’ and he would need it for his muscavado meringue. Alas, the pecan praline centre was deemed too sweet for even Mary and Paul.

As always, Candice decided to go that little bit further with two different meringues for her ‘Queen Victoria’s Mango and Strawberry Crown’ with Prosecco soaked strawberries keeping it classy. Impressively it held its shape and displayed a lavish, colourful collection of layers earning the coveted ‘Hollywood Handshake’.

Jane kept it dutifully regal with a ‘Red, White and Blue Meringue Crown’ including raspberry coulis, as well as blueberry then raspberry and strawberry compotes. The tart flavour of the berries worked well with the meringue and was enough to earn a second ‘Hollywood Handshake’, Andrew would need to raise his A game.

The technical challenge was devilish; a Victoria Sandwich with jam and buttercream accompanied with the most basic of recipes. For the final, this had to be absolute perfection and Mary Berry knew exactly what that classic looked like. The twist was the variety of ingredients to choose from and remembering the exact proportions from memory. Jane was last as hers was oversized, Candice was second for her jelly rather than jam and Andrew triumphed with a typically neat effort. All square then.

It all came down to the showstopper, a Royal Picnic of a Chocolate Celebration Cake, 12 Puff Pastry Sausage Rolls, 12 Mini Quiches, 12 Savoury Scones and 12 Fruit and Custard Tarts all in five hours with one oven each. With such an order the task would challenge technique, planning, consistency and execution. Presumably their lifting ability too.

Jane was determined to overcome her chocolate collar disaster for her Four Tiered Chocolate Cake but the collar simply refused to stick. Along with her cake were delightful Redcurrant and Creme Pat Tarts and Salmon and Dill Quiches. Raw pastry would sabotage her Apple and Thyme Sausage Rolls and her Butternut Squash and Parmesan Scones were lacklustre. Not a good start.

We all know that Andrew likes to be meticulous but he actually brought in an Excel spreadsheet to keep on track. His Gran’s Chocolate Cake impressed Paul and his quiches did the trick but that was about it. Exactly as with Jane, the pastry in his Sausage and Chorizo Jam Rolls would be undercooked and the Smoked Cheddar and Paprika Scones avoided any real flavour. He also suffered a soggy bottom in his Strawberry and Pistachio Tarts. Oops.

As long as she did not suffer any disasters, victory would be Candice’s. For once, her extravagant outlay did not look out of place. Her Bacon and Mushroom Little Piggie Rolls were cooked which was a start yet flavours went missing in her Manchego and Olive Scones. Her Salmon and Asparagus Quiches were filled and her Rhubarb and Custard Tarts were surprisingly crisp so it all came down to her Chocolate Orange and Orange Cardamom Cake. With an extended Hollywood silence, there was the crowning glory.