This took an exceedingly long time to write because there was just so much to write about. The Final was a grand occasion and saw Frances Quinn crowned the winner of Series Four of the Great British Bake Off.
The Signature Challenge was a Picnic Pie, demonstrating their technical ability with pastry and their combination of flavours. Ruby had a great start to the Final with a Vegetarian Picnic Basket Latticed Pie showing Ruby’s decorative flair. She showed her skills in this challenge, and a lot of development over the show. Her bakes had great flavour but now she is considering how the bake looks to the eaters. Kimberley took a risk by not cooking her filling before but it meant her Chicken and Pig Pie had a soggy bottom – the worst start to the weekend. Frances’ first bake brought up that phrase again: “Style over Substance”. Her Rainbow Picnic Pie was 10 minutes away from perfection. Mel and Sue did what they did best, and even Mary couldn’t resist a taste of Frances’ food.
This year’s final Technical Challenge came from Paul and was 6 sweet and 6 savoury pretzels. Kimberley had that same look as the Charlotte Royale technical last week – her confidence was not misplaced as she finished 1st, however Paul was quick to not let her feel all that good about it. Ruby came 2nd in the Technical and Frances came 3rd.
In my opinion, at this stage Ruby is leading with Kimberley below and Frances just slightly below her – coming first in the technical can bring anybody up from a poor signature but coming last pulls you right down. However a good showstopper would change the whole shape of the competition.
The Showstopper was a Three-Tiered Wedding Cake, a very difficult challenge to do in 6 hours, let alone 6 days. The challenge was very difficult and so the quality of the bakes would be lower than expected. Frances did not disappoint with her decorative flair, making edible confetti (which always goes down well with Mary) and having good sponges, although the middle tier looked slightly taller than the other tiers. She made a Midsummer’s Night Dream Wedding Cake which had 3 different flavoured sponges, although her rhubarb in the ginger cake was deemed slightly redundant in the sponge. Of course it looked amazing but the confetti was isolated to one side of the cake.
Kimberley had a muse for her Languages of Love Wedding Cake, her boyfriend Giuseppe, and she used an innovative technique of putting raspberry cake pops into her chocolate cake mix. Unfortunately the richness of her sponges did not match her decoration outside, which was quite bland, and she had a dry overbaked chocolate cake. Kimberley also used a checkerboard effect inside one of her tiers which looked amazing. It showed that Kimberley is really technically talented and she will go far in the future – we could see her with her own TV show and a recipe book.
Ruby said that “weddings are just an exercise in narcissism” and people who say that stress tastes bad in baking will say her lack of passion was not seen in this challenge. Her Raspberry, Lemon and Passion Fruit Wedding Cake was slightly overbaked and dry but it used very traditional summer colours and looked very attractive. I thought the cake looked nice with the fondant decorations and with a bit more time, Ruby could make it very pretty.
When they showed the garden party and the former contestants, I was keen to hear who they thought would win. I was a fan of Glenn since the start with his massive cakes and I loved that he supported Ruby. But it seems that the Final was actually very similar to last year in that it all came down to the showstopper. There were some more similarities:
- The one statistically most likely to win did not win at all – Ruby accrued 3 Star Bakers across the series
- The public’s favourite had came first in the Technical Challenge but completely bombed in the Showstopper – Kimberley – and Kimberley’s soggy bottom was very reminiscent of James Morton’s soggy bottom on his Pithivier from Series Three
- The underdog came through to win – Frances
You know that I haven’t been Frances’ biggest fan over the series but I have warmed to her – she did receive overly harsh criticism from the judges in some weeks and soon, I got very sick of the “Style over Substance” quip repeatedly used by Paul. Soon, Frances started to produce bakes that looked good and seemed to taste good as well.
And to deal with the controversy:
People who say that Ruby’s crying is purely for sympathy are ridiculous – this competition could change her life at just 21 years old and she put a lot of passion into the cake and the entire series.
People who say that Paul was biased are ridiculous – yes people have favourites, but the judges cannot be swayed by what the contestants have baked already or by their looks; this is the whole premise of the Technical bake so that they cannot be influenced by their past history in the competition or by their Signature.
I really think they need to make the Bake Off a biannual thing. It would be a great idea, considering the Bake Off’s move to BBC One in 2014 and its amazing ratings – at its peak, over 9 million watched the show and with an average of 8.4 million, The X Factor is watched by LESS people than the Great British Bake Off. It also took Top Gear’s long held record by 400,000 people for the most watched programme, held since 2007. Who would have thought it would go from this:
Britain will now go into hiding for another 10 months, but all of next week, there will be Masterclasses where Paul and Mary show the viewers at home what they would bake in the marquee and how to get technically perfect bakes at home.
The School Cook.