The Great British Bake Off: 9.10. The Final
An initial batch of twelve amateur bakers has been reduced to just three and Rahul, Ruby and Kim-Joy have all earned their place in the final. Rahul has received the most Hollywood handshakes after delighting the public and judges early on while Kim-Joy has impressed with her cute and creative designs throughout. Perhaps the favourite was Ruby who was in form having been named Star Baker in the two penultimate weeks having suffered some early wobbles. Each contestant had been named Star Baker twice meaning a level playing field and as with any televised talent contest their route to the final could be largely forgotten, whoever held their nerve would triumph. For the last time this season; on your marks, get set, BAKE!
Their final Signature Challenge was producing six filled and six ringed doughnuts. As ever, the challenge always seemed more straightforward than it really was. Simplicity would be the key in their flavours, decoration and execution including the crucial oil temperature.
Alas, Rahul had never even EATEN a doughnut before let alone made one so his Mango Crème Pâtissière Filled Doughnuts & Spiced Orange Ring Doughnuts would be a swift learning curve. Indeed, the judges disagreed with the buttercream topping and a burst icing bag typified his messy, bright presentation. The ringed doughnuts were under-proved yet the mango filling was pleasantly explosive. In what would prove to be a telling early indication, his flavours had hit the mark.
Unlike Rahul, Kim-Joy had the bonus of prior experience making her own doughnuts. Her Amaretto Diplomat Filled Doughnuts were exquisite & the Lemon Ring Doughnuts came with lemon flavoured dough and, of course, iced bumblebees. Though the ringed doughnuts were inconsistently cooked her decoration was on point as it had been throughout the season.
As this was the final, Ruby was going all out from the start with two different doughs; cinnamon for her Dulce De Leche Filled Doughnuts & then Raspberry and Cardamom Ring Doughnuts. The over-excessive icing on her ringed doughnuts left Paul with sticky fingers and her filling was unbearably scarce. For all her efforts it was, well, a bit boring.
If you thought the Technical Challenges so far had been ridiculous, bordering on cruel, you would be in for a treat. There are several reasons why barely anyone would decide to make pitta breads from scratch despite the somewhat rustic cooking method originating in Ancient Greece. Namely you need a campfire to fuel an open stove, a slate and be able to create an envelope in what is really a flatbread. Each contestant had their own fire to maintain and even the vegetables would need to blackened on the flames as they tried their very best to escape off the logs. Lordie, how they missed their ovens but then this was The Great British Bake Off Final and they would have to produce six Pitta Breads with three dips including Baba ghanoush, Smoked Garlic Salsa Verde and a Burnt Pepper Salsa in 90 minutes.
Somehow, Kim-Joy had experience of making pitta breads too which may have been why she achieved the elusive envelope and won the challenge. Rahul's breads were charred yet more a flatbread though his dips were impressive and Ruby was last due to her thick breads. A sterling effort considering the circumstances.
Their final Showstopper Challenge would tie together the techniques they had honed throughout the series. A Landscape Dessert would contain cake, pastry and biscuits, each would need to be executed perfectly and appear stunning if they were to earn the crown.
Passion Fruit Cakes, Buttery Cardamom Shortbread Hills and a Lemon Crème Pâtissière Filled Choux Mountain featured in Ruby's Magical Edible Landscape which looked a bit hit and miss. Burnt caramel on the Choux Mountain tarnished her efforts yet the flavours all worked. Despite her being in form, it appeared she had fallen just short at the last.
Having arguably triumphed in both prior challenges, this really was Kim-Joy's to lose. Her Lost City of Atlantis Dessert Landscape looked the part, even the sign was written in Ancient Greek as her attention to detail shone through again. Her trinkets had been a feature throughout and she garnished her landscape with a Salted Caramel Filled Well and Fondant Seahorses maintained her habit of animal-based treats. The decoration was typically stunning yet the ginger cake needed a bit more tang. Having stuck with ginger for her biscuit then praline sand the end result was a tad tedious. For all the exquisite design, her lacklustre flavours might have cost her.
Then there was Rahul who has been the one to watch throughout. Whether he actually believed he merited his place in the final was trivial, he was there and still in with a shot. His Edible Royal Garden consisted of Buttercream Plants, Cardamom Filled Choux Rocks, a Two Tiered Chocolate Orange Cake and a Lemon Joconde Mound with a total of 200 individual items. He had seemingly already given himself too much to do then CRACK, a glass jar mysteriously shattered and Rahul would have to start again.
We have come to expect such drama from Rahul and he was given fifteen extra minutes to compensate yet the trauma looked to have put him off at the worst possible time. However, his rough and ready approach actually prevailed this time. The landscape looked suitably off-putting which was was part of the charm as the flavour combinations and the textures complimented each other. For the final time, we got treated to his special shocked/surprise face as he was announced as the winner. He might actually believe he's a great baker now.