Teaching one of my master classes last week, I conducted a quick straw poll as to who was going to win this year’s Great British Bake-Off (GBBO).
The ladies clearly desired Tamal; his charm and smile are as sweet as honey but he is loved for his creativity too. Ian received one vote. Everyone had an inkling thought that Nadiya might clinch it. Her baking consistently improved. Everyone was still in with a chance before last night’s final.
First it was iced buns, but not as we know them! At best, an iced bun/finger is beautifully soft with a fruity jam and cream filling. Yet many iced fingers just receive a varnish of thick white icing – you can only dream of the creative pampering given to those on GBBO. Anyone in the iced fingers business could learn a few tricks.
Plenty can go wrong with an enriched bun dough: from mixing up measurements to killing the yeast or forgetting to add one of the ingredients altogether – sugar in Ian’s case. It is something that has happened to all of us, just not ideal when it’s a GBBO final. Tamal got into a fluster, too, and barely finished on time. Nadiya did best with round cardamom buns filled with almond crème pat and sour cherry jam and cream filled fingers. Her pipe work made these look particularly yummy.
Next up the ‘tech chal’ as Mel called it, a raspberry mille-feuille with candy stripe fondant topping. Not much footage was in evidence as to how the baker’s laminated their puff pastry, but what came out of the ovens gave some indication. Tamal’s was more of a thick single feuille, Ian undercooked and Nadiya, although initially flummoxed by having to cut her perfectly baked sheet into 18 pieces (six mille-feuilles with three layers each), somehow received some divine inspiration and presented the most respectable ones.
Only an amazing showstopper by the other could now stop her. Tamal tried his very best with a Sticky Toffee Pudding Fruitcake fusion, decorated in the most outlandish caramel webbing and spun sugar fantasy. It sure had attitude and dripped with wow factor! This was quite in contrast with Ian who made one of the best carrot cakes Paul Hollywood had ever tasted, but the ‘draft excluder’ elongated carrot design spreading over five cakes had not only Mary Berry baffled.
Nadiya was smart; she had a good story to go with her delicious lemon drizzle recipe. It was to be her British Wedding cake, for she got married in Bangladesh where “they don’t do cake”, she exclaimed. Her decorations were glamorous; relying a little too much on bought-in cake accessories, but her homemade marshmallow fondant and hand-crafted sugar flowers gave it the personal touch and won her the GBBO crown 2015.
I thought the standard of baking was higher in the last series of GBBO, but Nadiya’s simple, approachable baking will no doubt inspire millions of viewers to have a go. Perhaps her first foray into publishing ought to be a baking book for the family; her kids and husband were really proud of her and it brought tears to my eyes. Happy Family Baking Days!