Do you have any idea how hard it is to avoid spoilers for the Bake Off final?
Seriously. I had to text family members warning them that I wasn’t watching it live, avoid all my usual internet haunts – which I only realised after I accidentally opened Facebook to see “really, Bake Off?!?!” – and basically not talk to anyone until I could catch up on the sofa this morning. But, somehow, I did it.
I know, I know, my dedication to my career is clearly lacking, but in my defence I was busy bouncing around to the musical stylings of my favourite band ever – Less Than Jake.
So for their last-ever signature, Rahul, Ruby and Kim-Joy were asked to whip up 12 doughnuts – six filled and six ring. Let’s just say, they did much better than the guys in The Apprentice the other week. There wasn’t any hot sauce in sight. Phew!
There were doughnuts filled with mango crème patissière, courtesy of Rahul, a boozy amaretto one from Kim-Joy and cinnamon doughnuts with dulce de leche from Ruby. Kim-Joy’s bee decorations for her lemon ring doughnuts were so convincing that a real wasp flew in to investigate or, as Noel put it, for “sexy times”.
Paul and Prue were also impressed with Kim-Joy’s decorations, as well as her flavours, while declaring Ruby’s too sweet and too sticky. Clearly, they have never indulged in one of Doughnut Time’s creations. Why not put an entire Kinder Egg on a doughnut? Or a brownie?
Rahul’s filled doughnuts, meanwhile, were declared to be “like a mango bomb”. His buttercream rose-topped ring doughnuts weren’t quite as well received by the judges. Noel liked them, though. “They’re like a doughnut that you would get at a funeral and that makes me happy,” he said.
On to the technical and the bakers ventured outside of the tent. The horror! They were exposed to sunshine and everything! This included open flames on which they were expected to cook six pitta breads to be accompanied by three dips: baba ganoush, salsa verde and a roasted red pepper dip.
Turns out this is what the Facebook status “really Bake Off?!?!” was referring to. Personally, I don’t understand the outage. It was certainly something different that the bakers wouldn’t have done before, requiring them to draw on their knowledge (which is the point of a technical).
“This is diabolical,” declared Ruby. It perhaps was too difficult, though, as Paul and Prue were presented with three rather lacklustre batches of ‘pitta bread’. Most didn’t have the signature pocket and some were burnt. Nevertheless, Kim-Joy secured her first ever win in the technical. Ruby was last, leaving Rahul in second place.
Things were pretty close going into the showstopper – anything could happen as the bakers were tasked to make a landscape cake, comprising at least three different elements.
If tensions weren’t high enough, a storage jar on Rahul’s bench got so hot, it exploded. This meant he had to start his entire bake again after the production crew were done cleaning shards from his workstation. Thankfully, Paul and Prue allowed him an extra 15 minutes to make up for the lost time.
Ruby stepped on Kim-Joy’s whimsy, as Noel put it, whipping up a magical landscape garden complete with unicorns, choux mountains and shortbread hills. Kim-Joy stayed true to her whimsy with a lost city of Atlantis-inspired bake, built from ginger cake, ginger biscuits and a salted caramel well. Rahul, meanwhile, drew inspiration from rock gardens with cardamom choux rocks, a lemon jaconde mound, and edible rock biscuits.
They were all pretty impressive to look at, although I’m not sure any of the showstoppers were as show-stopping as ones from previous finals. That’s not to say the bakers aren’t as capable, just that landscape cakes aren’t perhaps the best format for truly show-stopping bakes.
Particularly after Kim-Joy was accused of playing it safe with the double ginger hit of ginger cake and ginger biscuits. Prue branded her bake a “missed opportunity”, while Paul said it “falls a bit flat”. For a final, that is hardcore criticism.
Everything on Rahul’s was pleasing to Paul and Prue, while most elements of Ruby’s were also judged to be delicious. Well, apart from some slightly burnt caramel.
So, it all comes down to this. And the winner is… Rahul.
British Baker editor Vince Bamford will be pleased (he had Rahul in our office sweepstake). On the plus side, it means the drinks are on him next time we go to the pub.
I wanted Kim-Joy to win so badly, but it just wasn’t her day. That said, I will definitely be buying her inevitable ‘how to make your bakes super adorable’ cook book when it comes out.
Here are some titbits from this week’s episode:
Who should have won: Rahul
Most fun to watch: Noel
Quote of the week: “I don’t think I’ll be having a fruity affair” – Rahul