The lips have it.
1. Our last finale, and our first with a theme. I think. Don’t quote me on that. And if ever I wanted to leave this show in a reflective mood over how I was clearly never really its target market in the first place, then the BBC continuity announcer gasping “We haven’t been this excited since Kate and William got married!!!!!!” before the show started was as good a place to start as any. Yes, this week’s theme was “Royalty”. In practice said theme kind of dwindled over the course of the show, from “BAKE A CROWN!” for the Signature Bake down to “Victoria Sponge” for the Technical and then finally a muttered fart of a “…erm, fit for a queen(?)” for the Showstopper, but the thought was there. Monarchy, aristocracy, and lineage were paramount, Bake Off was going all out and crowning a new queen. Or Andrew. It all felt like one last two fingers to the sneerers, the show saying in its last glorious moments before sinking down into the lake to be reborn again on the other side (/the other side of the other side, way beyond the horizon) that yes it was village fetes, yes it was Cath Kidston, yes it was agas and Keep Calm And Carry On and cupcakes and Middle England and themed umbrellas and “twee fascism” and makin your own coat of arms and complaining that Eastern European countries always bloc-vote at Eurovision and still watching the Queen’s Speech in 2016 and midlife crises and voting Brexit “for sovereignty reasons” and buying The Daily Mail because you don’t agree with all of it but you can get some really good recipes and the tv pages are very thorough AND WHY THE FUCK NOT?
2. Narratively, the final began as (SPOILER) it concluded, with all three contestants entering the tent together, but with Andrew immediately peeling off leaving
Jane and Candice side by side, Candice dressed like she’s going to her mate’s 30 birthday that she’s having at The Emirates (they do parties there now!), and Jane in a floral top and mum jeans. Benjamina and Selasi’s OTP may have had the sexual frisson, but Jane and Candice truly are the original Odd Couple.
A brief summing up of everyone’s journeys so far with the key points highlights (Jane : “home style”, Candice : “elaborate”, Andrew : “precision”) followed and then it was straight into the first challenge, to make a meringue crown of at least three layers, large enough for the entire Royal Family to feast on. What, all of them? Even down to Lord Carnegie and Princess Martha Louise Of Norway? You have to draw the line somewhere, and I think most of us draw it at Prince Edward, if not a little higher. Jane saw what way the wind was blowing at the first mention of “it’s the Queen’s 90th birthday year” (/180th birthday, actually, the greedy cow) and
threw any reservation she had about patriotism to the wind, garlanding her meringue with strawberry compote (red), nectarines (white), and blueberry compote (…blue). According the Paul, this was a very safe way to start the finale. I know right? They asked for three layers and she’s giving them three layers?! Where’s the ambition? Candice of course at this very moment was spilling out four layers, comprised of two different varieties of meringue, prosecco soaked strawberries, mango curd, glittery pistachios, Queen Victoria’s crown, and gold dusted syphali…phyllis…fruit things, and Andrew was making an actual giant crown. And so the narrative you’d expect for the final based on the series so far was set into motion – Jane keeping it simple, Candice making things with 47 different individuals parts, and Andrew going architectural. In the final analysis, Candice’s ambition paid off as Paul and Mary lavished praise on her meringue crown, and Andrew’s didn’t
possibly for the implication that he was here giving OUR QUEEN an amateur lobotomy. NO TREPANNING HER MAJ ANDREW, YOU’RE AN ENGINEER, NOT A BRAIN SURGEON. In the real world though, his vegan praline (which formed the centre of his crown) was just too sweet, and overpowered everything. I’m not saying that Andrew lost me forever with the words “vegan praline” but there we are. THE BEEF’S THE BEST BIT OF A PRALINE! Jane meanwhile also won universal praise for her efforts, but you’d have to put her second at this point due to Candice’s greater level of chutzpah.
3. Further signs that Mel & Sue were over this shizz :
Sue tickling Paul under the armpit whilst he was operating a massive knife inches away from Candice. We came one slip of the wrist away from Jane being crowned as winner by default.
4. We went into the Technical Challenge with possibly the lamest piece of Bake Off drama ever.
Andrew being “jealous”/”nobly wounded” (*delete as your status on Andrew deems fit) over the fact that Paul Hollywood gave Candice and Jane a handshake a-piece for their meringues, and didn’t give him one. Jane’s with TWO HANDS. Really Andrew needn’t have been so worried, I’m sure he’s been double-fisted before and will be ag [ENOUGH – Ed] And if you’re wondering what sort of woman still fancies Paul Hollywood, after 7 series of his nonsense, there’s Jane for you. Bring back Nancy that’s what I say. If the Male Judge grabbed her hand she’d be wiping it on her pinny straight afterwards. Still the angst allowed Andrew to contribute to this week’s Royal theme by enabling his
pretty spot on Prince Charles impersonation. The Technical Challenge itself? Make a Victoria Sandwich. That’s it. I know right? I’m all for testing the contestants basic baking skills in the final, but I think I preferred this challenge when it was Series 5 and they had to make about 50 of the little buggers and some buttered scones and lemon tarts on top. At the outset, this all felt a little unfair on Jane who has outshone Candice and Andrew on cakes all series, and could be justifiably miffed when they got handed an easy assignment in the finale to allow them to catch up. But then…Jane sucked at it lol. It tasted nice but everything was just too thick and massive and overdone and mushy. Candice’s was a little better, although her buttercream was grainy, and Andrew was the clear winner, bringing his engineer’s precision to the table yet again. This led Jane to say that she thought they were all going into the last round even.
Bless her. No Jane, you’re last.
5. Half an hour it took to get to the most important part of the episode. HALF AN HOUR to find out who had the hottest relatives. Why do they think I turn into the finale of this show, the BAKING? Good grief. In the end, the winner was
Jane, who has one hot daughter, and one hot son. Nobody else could compete with that really, could they? We also looked back through the contestants old photos of themselves, resulting in the revelation of
Baby Candice in baby fur coat and with baby ear-rings and
BLACK HAIR JANE. Looking at that photo, I can’t help but wonder if Jane is in fact the original Cher, who got bored ages ago and just lets a robot made out of tin foil and soap handle all of her public appearances now, whilst she just gets on with a quiet life of garden design and baking.
6. If the Signature Bake favoured Andrew’s eye for precision construction (which he then failed at) and the Technical Bake favoured Jane’s next-level cake baking skills (which she then failed at) then our Showstopped certainly favoured Candice’s ability to construct something wonderful out of a million little pieces, as the finalists were tasked at the last with creating 49 separate items. One chocolate cake, twelve sausage rolls, twelve fruit tarts, twelve mini-quiches, and twelve savoury scones. I swear, I was cooking whilst this final was on, and I walked in on a recipe page showing only savoury items and for a brief beautiful moment I thought the Bake Off was going out forever on a savoury-only challenge. I would have died of happiness. The finalists all coped with this final act of mass catering in their own way. Andew via the use of
spreadsheets (that looks more like a timetable to me that’s just used Excel to format at which, by my definition, would NOT count as a spreadsheet, but ok guys, whatever you want to go with, I’m fine here honestly), Candice by
doodling love hearts (and quite possibly pugs) everywhere and Jane by unleashing what I can only describe as Hurricane Jane. Yes, after a series of utter banality, getting titivated by old Harry Belafonte songs and dough hooks, Jane went absolutely mental in the last challene, running around like a Muppet on a pogo stick, talking to herself (LOUDLY) and spraying ingredients and tins around willy nilly and panicking panicking panicking. The PEAK moment of Hurricane Jane was probably her stood outside the fridge, repeatedly opening and slamming shut again the freezer door, all whilst manically counting to herself just how much longer the collar she had made for her chocolate cake had to chill. Oddly enough, this approach did not work as the collar set a little too hard, and wouldn’t come off, resulting in the second time this series that Jane has had to
just hurl glitter’n’stuff at the sides of her cake to make it presentable. Fortunately it tasted great, as did her fruit tarts, although personally, I would question
the presence of actual branch on top of them. Elsewhere though, the aftermath was a little more haphazard, with underdone sausage rolls and quiche casings alike (although the fillings were fine in both cases) and scones that didn’t quite carry the flavour of butternut squash (the horrors!). This was still better than Andrew did, as his spreadsheet fell to bits 5 minutes in, and left him playing catch-up the entire time. In the end, only his cake came out right, with everything else being either flavourless, raw, or falling to bits in Paul Hollywood’s hands. A bit of an inauspicious end for Andrew, but better bakers than him have finished 3rd in the final so it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Candice meanwhile produced these
so Candice won. Automatically. Fatality. Little pig sausage rolls with beady little eyes and a nose and a tail made out of pork crackling with mushrooms and black pudding inside. The end. The end of Bake Off. Forever. Everything else was pretty great as well, other than her scones which just tasted of olive, and the casing for her tarts, which was slightly underdone. Leaving this judging though, there was little doubt as to the overall winner.
7. Before the Result was revealed, we checked in with our eliminated bakers, who were gathered outside the tent, waiting to see who was going to triumph, and offering their support and predictions as usual. We even got to meet Tom’s wife
although not Pod, who I’m sure is the one we were all really waiting for. Tom and Rav identified themselves as Jane boosters, Selasi indicated a preference for Andrew out of manly solidarity, and Val picked Candice as her winner, at which point Candice fell into her own oven and died. Also Louise reminded us all of her collapsing gingerbread church, and Kate told us all how much she wished she’d been in the tent at the end. I wish I remembered who Kate was other than “the one who looks like she definitely shops at Waitrose whilst wearing sunglasses, an overpriced scarf and arse-jeans”. We didn’t hear from Michael or Lee, or Benjamina beyond her going “errrrrrrrrrm”, which felt a bit of a waste to be honest.
8. Our winner
ba’duh. Not quite Nadiya crushing all before her in the finale, but as soon as the critiques piled up on those final bakes it was obvious who the champion was. It does feel kind of right, in this series where half of it was spent with the entire audience relentlessly dogpiling on Paul Hollywood for his flaws, that we got our first ever winner who was really crap at making bread. Hopefully that’s not to do her too great a disservice – this blog has been transparently pro-Candice from the beginning and if this series had to end with a winner who wasn’t Selasi, then I’m glad it was her. It’s always the erratic contestants I’m drawn to most. She got the now obligatory teary Winners Speech, which was only marred a little by having Michael skulking in the background the whole time following his parents around in a ratty looking band t-shirt and jeans. Really the most emotional part of Candice’s win was just how pleased Jane was for her. It’s been obvious that Jane has been Candice’s chief cheerleader for weeks, but watching her stomping around, still clearly coming down from her blisteringly crazy performance in the Showstopper round, telling everyone who’d listen that Candice is a star and kicked everyone’s butt today was legitimately heartwarming.
9. So that’s it. The last ever proper series of Bake Off. From my first favourite (Brendan – King Of The Disco Dips), through The Thing That Sarah Jane Did, Mary Berry’s Green Carpet, James’ Fluffy Jumpers, Kimberley’s Hottest Of All Hot Boyfriends, Mary Berry’s Nemesis – The Eternally Pristine Christine, Emo Ruby, Howard Who Works For The Council And His Friend Jean, Poor Sweet Doomed Toby And Claire And All The Other First Boots, Richard’s Pencil, The Mighty Nancy, Dirty Diana, Norman And His War On Flavour, Nadiya The Smiling Muslim, Hot Tamal, The Second Greatest Reality TV Lithuanian, and all of this year’s superstars (but particularly Candice, Tom and Selasi) it’s been a hell of a blogging journey. Whether we end up following Paul to the other side (most likely for a one-off “WHAT THE HELL HAVE THEY DONE TO THIS SHOW?” point-and-laugh entry and no more let’s face it) and carry on, thanks to Love Productions, the BBC, Melon Sue, Mary Berry and even The Male Judge for all the entertainment. Not you though, Extra Slice. You were crap.
10. And now…the final Where Are They Now?