It’s the Bake Off final! There’s a helter skelter, some very loud shirts and three nervous bakers. Correction, two nervous bakers and David, who is as cool as a cucumber.
After all, he has nothing to lose. Steph, on the other hand, has a lot to prove, having been named star baker four times, Alice twice and David none. Not once. It doesn’t look like a fair fight.
In short, this is the tale of David versus Goliath (if Goliath was a dark-haired woman with a big fringe and four star baker titles under her belt).
“I’m definitely the underdog,” said David.
For their last-ever signature, the bakers were tasked with creating an ultimate chocolate cake. It should be the “Mona Lisa of chocolate cakes”, said Sandi.
What a boring analogy! The Mona Lisa really isn’t all that. Average chocolate cakes have definitely brought me more joy than the Mona Lisa.
Nevertheless, David, Alice and Steph (pictured above) strove for perfection. Even if, after 27 bakes in the tent, they couldn’t quite achieve it. David’s prune and Armagnac chocolate cake, which in a heart-stopping moment he nearly dropped, was decidedly too boozy for Paul and Prue.
Alice’s pear, ginger and maple creation wasn’t chocolatey enough, was a bit lopsided and wasn’t as delicately decorated as her previous creations. Neither was her workbench – it was an absolute state. Honestly, it was on par with when I bake. There were more spoons covered in ingredients than one could possibly need, and there was flour everywhere.
I wonder if she has learned the lesson about covering the KitchenAid before turning it on when it’s filled with icing sugar? I haven’t. It’s like Christmas in my kitchen every time I make buttercream icing – there’s a light dusting of edible snow over every surface … and over me.
Steph’s ’70s Black Forest cake, meanwhile, was elegant and very chocolatey, if a tad overbaked.
I bet she would have been thrilled for her technical to be called overbaked, as the trio were tasked with creating six twice-baked stilton soufflés with lavash crackers. Yum.
Sadly, Steph’s soufflés were more like sauces they were so underbaked. Why she kept turning them out, I have no idea? It was so sad to watch her sobbing as she released yet another soupy soufflé.
Unfortunately, the bakers’ lack of technical knowledge really shone through. Steph didn’t realise that a bain-marie needed hot water and Alice had never made a roux before.
David, still chilled, was the only one to turn out anything that vaguely resembled the judges’ version, with them describing it as “not a bad effort”.
On to the showstopper – the final bake for this year’s Bake Off contestants – and the tears were already flowing. Alice’s parents were stuck in Dublin and she was in pieces over the fact they might not make it to the show in time. It was tense. Thankfully, they arrived just in time.
For bake number 30, David, Steph and Alice had to creative a deceptive picnic feast, complete with nougatine basket and filled with cake, enriched bread and biscuits made to look like other food.
Alice nailed the brief with her carrot cakes disguised as Scotch eggs – they were exceptional. Her buns made to look like apples not so much, as they lacked flavour, but her macarons had a zesty tang.
This begs the question: are macarons biscuits? And fig rolls (as made by David) for that matter?
Regardless, David’s fig rolls (cleverly disguised as sausage rolls) were stunning, the ‘peach’ buns were also described as delicious, while the ‘cheese’ cakes were soft but tasty. “Exceptional,” said Paul.
Poor Steph looked defeated as she approached the bench with her display. Things just didn’t go to plan for her and the baking fairies she kept harping on about were notably absent. Her macarons were “overwhelming” flavour-wise, and her ‘chicken burger’ cake, although beautiful, was lacking flavour and was overbaked.
The writing was already on the wall for Steph. Going into the final, most people probably thought she would win, but there’s just no coming back from that. Especially when Paul looked at her and said: “Never mind Steph” and proceeded to hug her.
As we caught glimpses of this season’s eliminated contestants waiting outside the tent, I felt a pang of longing for those who left too early – Phil, Henry and, of course, spooky queen Helena. This year’s final contestants just didn’t have the same lovable qualities as last year’s.
That’s not to say David, Alice and Steph weren’t lovely, but they didn’t warm my heart in the same way as unassured yet lovable Rahul and one of my all-time Bake Off MVPs Kim-Joy.
Enough reminiscing. Who would be crowned the 2019 champion? Alice or David?
For me, and thankfully for Paul and Prue, there was a clear choice: David!
“You smashed it,” Paul said to David. “Don’t smash that though,” he added, pointing to the coveted glass cake stand.
Here’s a few titbits from the show:
Who should have won: David
Most fun to watch: Noel going down a helter skelter
Quote of the week: “I’m going for a golden bun look” – Steph