This is it, this is the end of The Great British Bake Off as we know it. No more puns, no more Mel, Sue and Mary, and most importantly for the 2016 series, no more Candice, Jane and Andrew.
For weeks these three have been giving the nation some truly heart stopping moments (for both good and bad reasons), and now it is time for their final challenge.
And naturally for bakers of their calibre, Bake Off gave them the Royal Treatment.
For this year’s final, in hour of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday, the bakers had to produce bakes inspired by royalty.
For the signature challenge, the judges wanted a filled meringue crown, a challenge they chose as the bakers had all struggled with meringue previously. Their bake had to have a minimum of three layers and be big enough to feed a family.
All the bakers chose to go for a pavlova style bake. Jane went for a red, white and blue theme, with classic white meringue, raspberry and strawberry compote and raspberry coulis for the red, and blueberry compote for the blue.
Candice chose to do two different types of meringue with mango curd and prosecco strawberries, and for the crowning glory of her bake, a meringue version of Queen Victoria’s crown.
Andrew’s baked was based around the Queen’s coronation crown, with pecan praline in the centre and jellied jewels.
All in all, the bakers seemed reasonably comfortable with this bake, it was once the meringues were in the oven things got interesting.
Andrew mistakenly made his praline on the wrong side of the baking paper so he had trouble getting it off (meanwhile my mother was just amazed to find out that baking paper had two different sides).
Watching the bakers sitting in front of their ovens is nothing surprising, but this episode we saw the final three take a leaf out of Val’s book and listening to their meringues to see if they’d taken them out of the oven too quickly; a sudden change in temperature can cause the meringue to begin to crack. Jane chose to cool hers in the oven to reduce this, while Andrew hastily put his bake in his warm oven when he began to hear some popping. Candice just looked a little bemused by the whole thing, and left hers on the side as she didn’t believe she could hear any noise coming from her meringue.
As the finish time time approached, Jane had a minor blueberry coulis incident, which she ingeniously combated by creating a blueberry dam.
So so the judging began; Andrew was up first, with Paul praising the effect and the meringue, while Mary liked the flavours, however she did feel that the praline was somewhat overpowering.
Both judges were impressed with with look of Candice’s meringue, with Mary praising her curd, while Paul love it so much he gave her the Hollywood handshake.
Jane’s blueberry dam appeared to work, with Mary liking the look and Paul being impressed with how it held together once it was cut. In fact, she also received the Hollywood handshake after Paul described her meringue as ‘three layers of heaven’.
And so to the technical, and it was Mary the Queen of Baking’s choice. In many ways this was both the easiest and most difficult technical challenge, with the final three being asked to produce a Victoria sandwich with raspberry jam and buttercream.
Sounds simple right? Except in true technical challenge style, they weren’t given a method or a recipe, instead they had to rely on their baking experience.
Andrew in true engineer style was weighing everything – he even weighed his mixture to make sure he got exactly half in each tin – but while he chose to go for the creaming method both Candice and Jane opted for the all in one method.
As a fairly task, there were very few mishaps (with the exception of Jane nearly throwing her cake off her workbench as she removed it from the oven), and the judges told the bakers that the rankings were hard to decide, with 3rd and 2nd being an extremely close call.
While the flavour was praised, Jane overfilled her cake tins, and her jam and buttercream were lacking, earning her 3rd place.
Candice placed 2nd, with her sponge being deemed too dark and her jam not being quite set, however Mary praised the texture.
1st place was taken by Andrew, with his Victoria sandwich being deemed a good bake throughout, with good jam and buttercream.
As we went into showstopper the final three were fairly evenly matched. For this royal themed final, the bakers were asked to make a picnic fit for the Queen – 12 sausage rolls, 12 mini quiches, 12 savoury scones, 12 fruit and custard tarts and a celebration chocolate cake.
Well, it is the final.
With five hours of baking time, the bakers had to be organised. Timing was crucial, so naturally Andrew created a colour coded spreadsheet to keep him on track.
Jane was attempting a four tier chocolate cake which she would be decorating with a chocolate collar (a decoration technique that didn’t work out so well for her on botanical week). Candice was making pigs in blankets for her sausage rolls with pork crackling as tails.
As we approached the halfway mark, both Candice and Andrew seemed reasonably calm, while Jane appeared to be getting just a little bit flustered. But even though Candice was calm, the edges of pastry cases got a little burnt in the oven.
As the finish line approached Jane made the decision to chill her chocolate collar quickly by putting it in the freezer, but she over-chilled it meaning it wouldn’t stick to her cake. With two minutes to go, she had to give it a quick makeover.
Jane was first up for judging. Mary said her picnic looked regal. Her sausage rolls were praised for their flavour, but were a little bit raw. Both her tarts and her quiches were praised for their flavour, but Mary couldn’t taste the butternut squash in her scones. Finally, the judges loved the hidden surprise in Jane’s cake, but Paul said it was a shame her chocolate collar didn’t work.
Next up, Andrew. The judges described his picnic as beautifully presented, with the his quiche being praised for his crispy pastry and good flavours, while Paul loved the cake and Mary deemed his chocolate shards as beautiful. However, though his sausage rolls were praised for their flavour the pastry was under-baked, the flavours in his scones were unbalanced and while his tarts tasted good he fell foul of the dreaded soggy bottom.
Finally, Candice presented what the judges described as an exciting hamper. Her sausage rolls had a good flavour and Mary praised the layers in the pastry, and the pastry for the quiche was crispy, however the pastry for her tarts was deemed to be slightly over-baked. Meanwhile, Paul couldn’t taste the cheese in her scones, but said her cake was lovely, with both judges liking the orange flavour.
With judging over, the bakers went took their picnics out to enjoy with their family, friends and fellow bakers. And it was here that Candice was crown the winner of The Great British Bake Off 2016.
The tent is closed for another year, and next time see it will be on another channel. Will it have the same warmth and hilarity? We shall have to wait and see…
Photos from BBC show ‘The Great British Bake Off’, no copyright infringement intended.