It won’t have escaped your attention that the BBoBC office has been a hotbed of Bake Off talk since before episode 1 even aired. Tonight is the final, so we gathered everyone’s thoughts on the series so far, and who will go home with the Bake Off trophy. The question none of us really want to think about is what we’ll do to replace GBBO in our lives once it’s over…
This year, I made a commitment to Bake Off, because I felt like it was a rite of passage as a UK resident. In the past, I’d dipped in and out, watching one or two episodes, and could only see how it was different to my favourite food shows back in the US (like Top Chef), and how it didn’t hold up in comparison. (Don’t worry, I’ve learned my lesson.) Now I have a deep appreciation for it; they are not to be compared and judged against each other. GBBO is an entirely different kind of television: this is a bunch of lovely people, presented by other lovely people, being judged by even more lovely…person. I love my dash of history in every episode, I love that we get three different challenges in each episode which pull out different strengths and weaknesses in the contestants, and I love that all of them are just regular people who are extraordinarily talented at something other than their day jobs.
Richard is my pick to win it all, but I’d be absolutely thrilled to see any one of the remaining contestants go home with the win.
I have loved this Bake Off series – with Norman’s gems of wisdom, Bingate, reeling at how Martha has packed 50 years of baking knowledge into 17, not to mention the genius that is Mel & Sue. I will be bereft without them on my telly every week. In terms of a winner, I adore Richard, but after winning Star Baker five times (FIVE!) it might just be a bit predictable for him to take away the big prize. The judges really do love him, but Richard has had his off weeks, so it’s still all to play for. I think in the end it probably will come down to Richard vs Luis and after so many weeks of nearly grabbing that Star Baker badge from Richard’s builder hands, it would be quite gratifying to see Luis win the whole competition.
So, what have we learned from this year’s GBBO?
1/ That you’re never too young to be brilliant. AND you can be modest and hardworking with it. Thank you, Martha – care to give some tips to the contestants on the new series of The Apprentice? They could do with it. I shed a tear when you left the tent; please let us know when you’re running for Prime Minister. Or want to be on 2015’s Strictly. Anything, really, I just want you back on my TV.
2/ That eradicating any flavour or presentational élan from anything you’re cooking is no bar to being declared a national treasure. Thank you, Norman, for going right back to basics.
3/ That ‘if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen’ is an unfortunate maxim to adhere to when on national telly. Ah, Iain, you left too soon. Literally.
4/ That there are loads of ridiculously tricky, but ultimately inedible cakes, to be ruthlessly hunted down by Paul and Mary for the technical. The grilled layer thing last week looked as though it were made of MDF. My mouth went dry even thinking about eating it. Don’t get me started on the kebab version that Mel was investigating. Or that weird green Swedish monster. I’m going to come right out and say it: not telling people how long to cook things for, in a recipe they’ve never heard of and can’t pronounce, isn’t a ‘technical challenge’, it’s like being asked to walk blindfold through a forest and try to find a specific tree, when someone has only told you what the bark feels like.
5/ That Chetna should be prescribed on the NHS as a lovely, calming influence. Bake Off’s Spice Girl had a habit of sticking cardamom into everything, but that’s fine, I like cardamom. I could listen to Chet talk all day (that mellifluous voice!) and her orange Converse gave her a pleasingly punky edge. She’s so serene and beautiful. Sigh.
6/ That the Star Baker gets given a Sheriff’s badge to sport for the week. How have I never noticed this, till this series? Mystifying.
7/ That everyone loves a smiley man who’s good with his hands. Yes, despite the fact I stand to win £24 in the office sweepstake if Nancy bakes her way to glory, it’s Richard that I love. He laughs in the face of disaster; he built an ‘Eclairway to Heaven’; he is resolute about having his lucky blue pencil shoved behind his ear at all times. Luis may often best him in terms of presentation, but he always looks like he’s tried that bit too hard. It’s Richard’s food I want to eat, and I could also do with some shelves building in my kitchen. Richard’s wife is a lucky, lucky woman. She’s probably now also 2 stone heavier.
The winner? Luis did some X-Factor crying last week; it’s a good job it’s not us who have to vote. I’m hoping Nancy will bust out another gadget made by her husband, for old times’ sake. But it should be Richard – he’s snagged Star Baker what, FIVE times? If it is him, then I hope they refashion the trophy into a 3-foot blue pencil. The finale happens to coincide with my birthday. Thus, I am celebrating with a select group of friends, at my flat, in front of the TV. With themed cocktails: I’m thinking something bright and fruity for the Mary Berry, something sharp and perhaps with a sour aftertaste for the Paul Hollywood. And maybe just a Sex on the Beach or a Screaming Orgasm in tribute to Mel ‘n’ Sue’s often single entendres. Cheers, Bake Off, it’s been awesome!
There’s going to be a sad Bake Off-shaped hole in my life after this week. No longer will Wednesday evening’s hold the promise of Richard’s infectious smile, Mel and Sue’s questionable sense of humour and Mary Berry’s killer outfits. Alas, all good things must come to an end. This has been the first series of Bake Off I’ve watched and the show’s definitely gained a new fan. Funny, light-hearted (with the exception of Alaska-gate) competition with buns and cakes galore – what’s not to love! I don’t think it takes a crystal ball to tell us that Richard is the clear winner this year. He must win. How could he not?! He’s head and shoulders above the rest. Luis’s pretty good, but somehow I find his baking less appetising than Richard’s (those colourful American profiteroles he made a few weeks ago looked truly vile). And Nancy pretty much sealed her fate when she called Paul ‘that male judge’ – he’s never going to let her win after that. So hat’s off, Richard, it’s been fun to watch your rise to baking glory!
It’s been a rollercoaster of a series, from the highs of amazing bakes and even more amazing puns, to the lows of Bingate (which now feels SUCH a long time ago!). We’ve come on a journey with this group of talented (yes, I’m looking at you, Norman) bakers and, whilst some of my faves have now departed the competition (Martha, Chetna), it’s safe to say that the three best have made it to the final. I can’t help but worry that Richard has peaked too soon (remember, Frances came from NOWHERE last year), and Luis and Nancy both have the skills to pip him to the post. But it’s still his to lose, so, with my BBoBC office sweepstake money gone, I’m going to declare myself for #teamrichard.
Now my one chance at the sweepstake jackpot (Chetna) has been sent home, I can let my true feelings out. Richard: you must, you shall, you can win. Use the power of the behind-the-ear pencil, and bake us up a storm. This series seems to have been less about the outside media scandal (oh, misogyny, where are you this year?), bincident and Mary’s outfits aside, and more about the actual baking, meaning this is one final I am looking forward to seeing, so we can get on the phone to Richard’s agent and offer him a book deal.
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