And it all came down to a simple twist of fete.
(I AM SO VERY SORRY)
1. That’s right, the end game for the Great British Bake-Off this year was a fictional fete, attended by all the eliminated contestants, who would partake in a pithivier, some fondant fancies, and a great big Showstopper Reality TV Journey cake. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The final challenges for our three finalists touched on the three main cornerstones of the Great British Bake Off : the savoury, the sweet, and the disgusting, dripping, oozing, slimy, inedible mess. All served up to Cathryn’s children who, let’s face it, are probably used to it by now, except at least they were being given dribbly fancies in a nice warm marquee, not over a campfire whilst their mother screamed “WHY, WHY?” as the portable burner refused to light.
2. The savoury corner of the GBBO Triangle was represented by the pithivier. No, me neither, but apparently it’s French, therefore it must be real. Frankly I’d believe almost anything was haute cuisine food if you told me it was French. Sieve some parmesan through a tramp’s sock and as long as you call it clocharde or something like that I’d buy it as an ancient gastronomic art. A pithivier, aside from an opportunity for Sue to do her best Daffy Duck impression, is apparently a puff pastry sandwich from…Pithiviers. And given that the only other thing Pithiviers is famous for is being the site of a Nazi transit camp, you can see why they’d put their name front and centre in their baked goods. Tragically, because this is the final, and everyone’s quite good, nothing terribly exciting happened. If only Sarah-Jayne were still around to make something radioactive… The most notable happening was James comparatively failing at handling a rough puff (for his chorizo and red pepper pathivier) compared to Brendan and John, who both had much more experience, leaving him with a soggy bottom and flakey, chapped sides. Write your own punchline here. Make sure to include how John drove his Italian Sausage right into the very heart of his rough puff. In the end, it was probably Brendan who won this round though, marginally. Well, at least in Brendan’s eyes, given that declared his pithiver to be “a 10/10, really, because I can’t subtract anything” about 10 MINUTES after Mary and Paul told him the sides were a bit burnt. OH BRENDAN, YOU STAR.
3. Sadly, at least for me, there was no History Bit this week. No food anthropologists, no fertility aids made out of marzipan, no stirring stories about how a Cumbrian coal-mining village was saved from destruction by a sturdily baked pork pie. I was, briefly, sad at this exclusion, but then I realised that there TOTALLY WAS A HISTORY BIT, and it was in fact a delving into the backgrounds of our three finalists. Doctor James and his Shetland island jumpers, mildly pushy girlfriend Fenella (!), and frequent jaunts to the cookery section of his university library. Gay Buddhist with a Toy Boy Brendan (<3). And most brilliantly of all, John, the law student, with a slightly disinterested flatmate ("oh yawn, another lemon curd John, HOW AMAZING, but I have to go work for a living BYE"), bantering sister ("if you win I'll be proud of you for the first time EVER, and probably not even then, HA HA") and charmingly withering mother ("frankly for the first few weeks I was hoping he'd just lose already so he could get back to doing his bloody revision like I told him to so he can get a proper job, but now that he's made the end he might as well win just so he can say he's done something with his life other than use up the entirety on the North-West's natural supply of denim"). (All words may not be literal quotes, but I feel the spirit is there). In reality terms, John's STORY came on leaps and bounds in the last episode, creating some sort of Bend It Like Beckham situation, but with baking. And he's only marginally less pretty than Parminder Nagra.
4. Let me just take this opportunity, because let's face it, there's only three people left and they axed the history bit, so I am filling like a mother, to praise the Great British Bake-Off Presenting Team. Mel, Sue, Paul and Mary, never has an hour long programme had four hosts and none of them felt superfluous. Except maybe Mel. (Just Kidding). (Mostly). (Actually I just remembered how she told off Brendan for his vaguely racist "Chelsea bunskis" so she is back in the fold). All four of them held the show together with charm and good humour, and without the camera-mugging of a Gregg Wallace. I know Steve doesn't really like Paul but…I'm recapping the final, so THERE. I love them all entire, except maybe occasionally a couple of Mary Berry's tops, let's face it.
5. SO ANYWAY. The Technical Bake. 25 Fondant Fancies. Sounds easy doesn't it? Just bake a sponge, cut it into squares, top it with buttercream, then goop it up with pink fondant. I mean, I'd rather have a go at that than a bloody teacake any day. So how heartwarming it was to see all three finalists make an utter pig's ear of it. Oh how I laughed as normally poised & perfect Brendan, slopped out fancies that frankly looked like Mr Blobby's turds. How I cackled as normally meticulously neat John had to chuck half his sponge cake away because he couldn't work out the maths. How I hugged my sofa cushion with glee when even James, who produced the best fancies of the round, was told that quite frankly it wasn't good enough at this stage of the competition. It made me immediately start plotting out my application for Great British Bake Off 4. My gimmick could be being the Bake-Offer who doesn't eat cake! It'd be like a vegetarian going on Masterchef (I think there was one of those on a couple of series ago, and I know she was VERY POPULAR)! I'd have it made! And then I remembered that my Signature Bake is a Waitrose Bacon, Mushroom & Mascarpone pizza with chorizo thrown on top, and I reconsidered.
6. And so, everything came down to the final Showstopper Challenge. To make a Reality TV Journey Cake, to represent their year and also to give a nice tear-jerker ending to the show. The eliminated contestants all lined up (most of them supporting James by the looks of it, because let's face it, it's not just the Internet Gaes that have their heads turned by an artfully revealing Aran Knit), ready to see who would win. So what heart-tugging journeys did the contestants throw into their final cakes? Well James copped out and just made 5 cakes, one for each nation-component of the British Isles, plus an extra one to represent the whole of the UK. Boring. John's "Heaven & Hell" cake was little better, with Hell representing "exams" and Heaven representing "nephews". I mean, I can appreciate trying to work the kid angle, but REALLY. It was left to Brendan, as it has been for the rest of the competition, to best represent the art of being a Reality TV Contestant, with his Gingerbread Men and almond Family Reunion cake, respresenting his desires to bring the fragmented strands of his family together. Heaven knows what foul misunderstanding could have torn Brendan's family apart. I'm guessing the end-result was somebody calling somebody "impertinent" and slapping them about the face with a lacy glove.
7. And so it was that James finished third. Probably. I mean, they never SAID, but let's be honest, he messed up every single round horribly, including the series' most rampant example of FLOORCAKE, so…he was third. In the end, he simply over-reached himself, trying to create five cakes in one baking session, and managing to come up with…one edible one. Apparently the Scottish one, which makes me think he should have just run with it and made his journey "I'M SCOTTISH!". It's on a par with "I done some exams and my sister had sex" let's be honest. It feels appropriate though that James' ultimate downfall came with his reach eventually fatally exceding his grasp, given that he's been on the verge of it for weeks now, with his haunted jizz-barn and bicycle made entirely out of treacly baguettes. Ah well, we'll always have knitwear.
8. Brendan was second, as he was always fated to be from the second that he set foot on reality tv and decided to be one of the greatest lovable villains it has EVER SEEN. At the very end, it didn't appear to be Brendan's talent that did him down, but his taste levels, which were fatally flawed, disco dips and all. That Showstopper may have tasted amazing but it looked like something Fanny Craddock would turn her nose up as being "a tad provincial". Brendan can probably console himself with having produced the two greatest moments of reality drama of the final. Firstly his prolonged gasping crying jag over NOTHING, being one of the best examples of Redemption Arc crying since Debrabarr. And secondly provoking the show's sharpest put-down of its ten-week run, from Mary Berry. "He was very good at the things he could practice at home *half-sneer*". MEOW.
9. So…John is your GREATEST BRITISH BAKER (OFFER). Meaning that the three finalists finished in exactly the opposite order to what you predicted, my readers. Well done to you all. Let's be honest, we all thought he'd lost it in the second when Paul started rampantly raking at the sides of his Hell Cake for no reason. But it turned out to be…in a good way? Anyway, the Underdog won, which can only be an appropriate ending for this most British of reality shows. Also it means he got to stick one up his mum (not like that). I feel it was a satisfying ending to a satisfying series of reality tv. Maybe now he can stop hocking around that picture of himself with his nips around everywhere. Frankly I was bored of it by the second time I saw it (and had right click-saved it to my special folder).
10. What better way to end this series than with a ranking of the American Graffitti style "And Here's What They're Doing Now!" montage that closed out the show.
11. "Peter is still trying to perfect his breadmaking" (who?)
10. "Natasha has been judging local baking competitions for charity" (and child beauty pageants?)
9. "Manisha is trying to keep up with demand for her celebration cakes" (whilst getting pissed)
8. "James passed all his exams. He spent the summer baking in a cafe" (was the air con broken?)
7. "Stuart now teaches baking as well as PE" (does he still wear shorts? That's what we want to know)
6. "Ryan is touring Europe learning as much about artisan baking as he can" (WATCH OUT SLOVAKIA!)
5. "John got a first in his law degree. He's saving up to go to Paris to train as a patissier" (So heartwarming. LIVE YOUR DREAM JOHN, LIVE YOUR DREAM *sniff*)
4. "Danny has begun writing her first article for a food magazine" (Danny got surprised by the call from the GBBO researchers and thought "shit! I've got to say something! Erm…)
3. "Sarah-Jane and Cathryn are running a market stall together" (IMAGINE!)
2. "As well as baking for local charities, Brendan is planning to teach baking in care homes" (REDEMPTION ARC COMPLETED!)
1. "Victoria has used baking to raise even more money for wild flower conservation" (EVEN.MORE.MONEY.)