How are we all doing? So last night was the Bake-Off final and what a whopper it was. It’s hard to imagine a show about gentle baking that can constitute addictive, edge-of-your-seat TV viewing, but there it was.
13.4 million of us tuned in to see Nadiya being crowned Bake-Off champion, and rightly so. These are record breaking figures for the massively popular series, trouncing last year’s final viewing figures of 12.3 million when Nancy Birtwhistle won.
Nadiya Hussain is the 6th winner of the Bake-Off series. She beat Ian Cumming and Tamal Ray after wowing the judges with her wedding-inspired showstopper, wonderfully titled ‘My Big Fat British Wedding.’
The final kicked off with the 28th challenge – 16 filled iced buns (8×2 different flavours). It’s an enriched, yeast-based dough which needs to be proven twice and can test the most resolute of bakers in constrained time limits.
Tamal made cinnamon and apple buns, and toffee and marmalade iced buns. His crème pat didn’t set in time so his marmalade bun was more of a glorified sandwich. Using Royal Icing didn’t help his cause either, as his buns lacked the beautiful glassy sheen. However the texture was praised, so it was essentially a winner of a bake.
Ian went all out and in true forager style had to include something herbilicious from his travels. He chose two separate batches of mix; elderflower + lemon and a spicy dough. (He doesn’t make it easy on himself, does he?) His presentation looked a little messy but Mary and Paul seemed to agree that his elderflower and lemon bake was delicious and said it was “heaven on a plate”.
Nadiya made nutmeg and sour cherry fingers, and breaking with tradition, made round (ROUND, I TELL YOU!) cardamom and almond buns. These looked beautiful and even, prompting Paul to say the buns were “neat and full of flavour.”
Paul chose the Technical Challenge, asking for six identical three-layered millefeuille made from rough puff pastry, Chantilly cream and candy-striped icing. I’d be more tempted to cut the pastry before cooking, and can’t imagine cutting cooked rough puff, because surely it would disintegrate? I guess that’s the scaredy-cat baker in me, which I need to rectify and get cutting already!
Nadiya won the Technical, Ian came second and Tamal third. And then came the showstoppers.
It was a tough one to call from the outset, because all three finalists went on to make covetable showstoppers. The brief was simple – multi-tiered cakes with the classic British bake in mind.
Tamal baked a sticky toffee pudding cake (oranges, lemons, prunes, figs, dates), which sounds ever so fruity and the perfect autumn bake. I wasn’t sure about his sugar-work (then again I’m not a fan of anything that resembles spidery cobwebs).
Ian’s colossal curvy carrot cake was lovely too, but I couldn’t help think that his previous showstoppers had a higher wow-factor. His chocolate well was all sorts of spectacular and in the final, where he baked five identical cakes, seemed to me, to be a little bit too safe.
Nadiya baked a three tier wedding cake with a classic lemon drizzle sponge and her marshmallow fondant was genius. (I’m SO going to try that, how cool did she make it look?)
All three are exceptional bakers and no doubt they’ll indulge in the trappings of being Bake-Off stars (being signed up for cookery festivals, TV shows, writing cookbooks and being judges). You know, all the cool things that I want to do one day.
Which leads me nicely to my next point. I’m a little bit in love with An Extra Slice, which usually airs on Friday. I’d love to get my bake onto An Extra Slice. Jo Brand is just so darn witty and I think it would be really cool to meet her and not cringe with my, ahem, rustic looking bakes.
So, with that in mind, I’m going to practice baking for the next year, so I can take my bake on An Extra Slice and not be embarrassed. I’ve got a gazillion cookbooks to cook my way through, so I’ve got a year to perfect my skills.
It was a great final and I loved Nadiya’s inspiring words. And I shed a tear, especially when Mary gently wiped Nadiya’s tears away. In a world where the political climate champions xenophobia (Daily Fail, I’m looking at you), it’s wonderful to see a truly multi-cultural Britain be proud of their star baker.