Bake Off 2020 – The Final: A Little Cry in the Fridge

Elon Musk’s race to Mars is going swimmingly.

It’s as dramatic a finale as we’ve ever had – there’s leaks, spills, a little swearing and small moments of triumph. And that’s just Laura’s journey.

PICK YOUR FIGHTER

Dave, The Zodi-cake Killer.

With an almost shark-like look of determination and the chaotic nervousness of an expectant father Dave is a potent force within the tent – an attention to detail and skill with knives that has more than a few us worried – he’s knocked out some of the most precise bakes in the tent (most of which tasted of passion fruit).

Laura, Instigator of The Chocopalypse

Going in to the final as the definite underdog (the show itself introducing her as “chaotic and disastrous”) and yet undoubtedly with the most personality of the three – Laura may not have a great track record in terms of presentation, more than a few of her bakes looking like they could have crawled out of The Fens, it’s her flavours that have always pulled her through – and for some of us, that’s enough.

Peter, The Reincarnation of Your Childhood Pet

The goodest of boys, Peter was destined for the final ever since he won Star Baker in the first episode. He’s grown up with Bake Off – he knows all the tips and tricks – you could argue he is a more successful Sasha Belle. He’s made a few weird decisions along the way, like that time he boiled sheets of bagel dough, but very rarely has he even been considered for elimination.

Custard Slices

Kicking off the finale is a challenge to bake 8 decorated custard slices, with crispy, well laminated pastry and a fully set custard filling – and in the midst of a heatwave the use of the fridges is absolutely essential – as is using a full cow’s worth of a gelatine.

For the first time in what feels like a century everyone in the tent is making very differently flavoured bakes – Dave appears to have used up the entire stock of passion fruit back at the hotel and is opting for a Caramel Latte Custard Slice – which he was hoping to decorate with a caramel drop – a concept that Paul very rudely cried “AGAIN?” at. I’m sorry, Dave has made like 5 things using passion fruit and that was NEVER an issue, but one repeat of caramel and you’d think he had kicked a puppy. It doesn’t even end up mattering because Dave leaves off the caramel drop because it’s much too hot and threatens to melt right through his custard slice like Cyclops’s laser vision

He’s praised for his strong coffee flavour but Paul thinks the custard is stodgy – it’s a custard slice Paul, it’s kind of stodgy by design.
Dave had by far the smoothest ride through this challenge and was seemingly calm and collected the entire time. Peter wasn’t much worse, and maybe I think it’s just his disposition to look like he’s constantly on the verge of tears so perhaps he was more composed than came across, he certainly didn’t run screaming when he poured his honeycomb out and it looked like The Thing

He’s going Full Scottish with by far the most complex recipe of a two toned Raspberry and Whisky Custard with a Cranachan-style Topping, and his finish on it is just utterly sublime:

That is a display case worth bit of baking. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Patisserie Valerie.

Then we have Laura and I don’t think there’s a better summary of the following events than the fact both “Oh Laura” and “Poor Laura” were trending on Twitter within 10 minutes of the episode starting.

She’s once again banking on extremely citrusy flavours – a risk given that citrus destabilises gelatine and so despite using 10 leaves of gelatine (still thinking about Dave using 35 in his cheesecakes btw) which should have set anything like Medusa’s gaze, her yuzu custard lemmings itself as soon as she lifts it from the tin

I think we need to talk about Laura’s de-tinning methods because it has just been a procession of rather baffling decisions all series. Peter and Dave both used added butter to aid their setting and I think Laura would have been benefited had she been let into The Secret Society of Butter Engineers because her initial plan to serve her Yuzu and Lime Custard Slices as a capsized custard slice

Were rather foiled by the fact her slices couldn’t stand the basic pressures of Earth’s gravitational pull

It’s a Hell of a way to kick off your journey through the final and I think it’s perfectly acceptable to have a little cry in the fridge

God knows how many times I did it at University after my Science of Cinematography lectures. I DON’T KNOW WHAT A CANDELA OR A SUPER-ZEBRA IS RICHARD, STOP ASKING ME.
But do you know what? As ever, Laura’s flavours are bold, exciting and well balanced – so she had a great career ahead of her as a baker in a novelty blindfolded café.

The Custard Slice Leaderboard

  1. Peter’s Scottish Duality
  2. Dave’s Starbucks Order
  3. Laura’s Yuzu Booboo

Walnut “Whirls” Because Whip Is Branded

The final Technical is to make the trademark swerving Walnut Whirls, which I’m pretty sure you can buy from Lidl by a brand called Bestlé. Paul and Prue are, perhaps naively, expecting the Walnut WHIRLS to have their distinctive whirly shape and a well set coffee ganache centre. How you feeling about this Laura?

Attagirl!
Once again fridges are the bakers’ best friends because in a 35 degree tent they are working with chocolate, a coffee ganache AND marshmallow. MAYBE STOP FILMING THIS IN AUGUST! Or at least cut off one episode and invest in getting a portable air conditioner if you insist on keeping the tent because it’s literally the only USP of the entire show. Because if you’re going to make them try and set chocolate in what is essentially Satan’s Kitchen, I’m not sure you get to complain that the marshmallow is too soft.

The first port of call is to make the walnut sablé biscuit bases, and I think the bakers’ various methods of crushing their walnuts speak volumes of their personalities, there’s Laura’s pent up rage:

Peter’s meticulous attention to exactness:

And a brief insight into how Dave disposes of his victims:

And with their sablé doughs resting it’s on to the coffee ganache and Laura is having a little trouble figuring out how to roast coffee beans:

It doesn’t help that Laura is averse to coffee as a flavour – which is illuminating as to why she uses citrus so often in her Showstoppers and Signatures – because I’m sure she’s said the same thing about 70% of the technical bakes, and is probably why she peeled back the cloth covering the ingredients like someone identifying a body in a crime drama

She takes such a long time getting to grips with the concept of roasting coffee beans that she falls quite far behind, with Peter and Dave already having their ganache cooling in the fridge and making their biscuits. I will say this though, Laura’s piped ganache did look very good:

She gets further waylaid by bodging up her marshmallow by adding the sugar too early and it turning into some sort of Ectoplasm at the bottom of her mixing bowl

She isn’t the only one having marshmallow woes as because of the heat Peter’s marshmallows start weeping – STICK THEM IN THE FREEZER! It worked for Laura.

Dave meanwhile is flying through the round, eating most of his marshmallow and leaving more of it tangled in his stubble

He’s going to make a delight of a father and I’m so excited for him.

Then comes the chocolate coating, and out of NOWHERE Laura pulls out a tray of perfectly piped marshmallow whirls like it’s the scene from Avengers: Endgame where all the dusted superheroes suddenly reappear through the portals – it’s triumphantly beautiful. She and Peter both opt to drizzle their chocolate coating over, unfortunately Peter’s chocolate is a little bit too hot and his marshmallow loses all of its shape

Laura is slightly more successful in maintaining a semblance of whirliness

But it’s Dave using the risky drunking method over an ice bath that comes out tops, with perfectly formed whirls and a hard set chocolate coating:

Both Laura’s and Peter’s biscuits needed a little longer in the oven, but Dave’s blitzed walnut sablés are spot on, with the perfect snap and compliment to the soft marshmallow and ganache.

A Walnut Whirl Ranking:

  1. Dave’s Walnut Whip, IT’S A WHIP GUYS, JUST SAY IT.
  2. Peter’s Walnut Pebbles
  3. Laura’s Wilted Walnut Whirls

I genuinely believe that Laura should have been second in this round – so much emphasis was put on wanting the shape to be obvious and she managed that very well – they just had softened slightly BECAUSE THE TENT IS THIRTY FIVE DEGREES.

Dessert Towers of Babel

With one more challenge to go it was clearly Peter’s or Dave’s to win with Laura’s chances looking a little like this

It was nice to see Laura coming in to the challenge looking more chipper than she has in a while – I think even she knew she wasn’t going to win so had taken a significant amount of pressure off of herself and was just there to wear a nice frock, get some pretty flowers and make tasty food for the people she’s been living with for however many shooting weeks this took. And I love that for her.

The final Showstopper Challenge was, as is tradition, a rather bonkers nonsense bake of a Colossal Dessert Tower depicting their own personal journeys through Bake Off and showcase 3 different baking disciplines which they are only given 4 hours to make. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE GIVE THEM SIX HOURS – at this point in the competition, all we want is to see some incredible bakes and feats of patisserie and they should be doing everything in their power to make this happen. But at least the weather had turned and the tent was a stonking 35 degrees anymore.

Laura’s Tower is an ode to everything she loves: citrus, citrus, citrus and rainbows

Every single one of her tiers sounds incredible – I’m going to need that chocolate and orange zest Chelsea bun recipe IMMEDIATLY and redoing the Key Lime Pies that won her her Star Baker accolade is a really nice touch – and an important reminder that Laura has earned place in the final for a reason.
She’s still being classic Laura though and the very second she had to make nougatine, something she hates, it all goes to Hell in a handcart, starting with pouring almonds and entirely missing the pan

Her nougatine base is then too big for her tower and in the end she has to stack everything on top of one another like she’s getting a bit of everything from an all you can eat buffet

As always, everything tastes amazing – there is no issue with her baking, it is purely down to the fact she gets very flustered and aesthetics go completely out the window – colour theory, who is she? The golden ratio? Never heard of her. Clarity of concept? He never made it to the party.
I think at the end of the day Laura was just happy to get through the round alive:

Speaking of aesthetics, Peter is once again celebrating Christmas in the middle of August with a festive spiced, garishly coloured Seussean monolith:

Given his signature round and the admission that he watched James Morton’s series of Bake Off seven times, I’m surprised Peter didn’t go more Scottish – and sure his Battenburg Biscuits are the colour of Motherwell FC’s home kit:

(Can confirm, I spent a while googling that – I know NOTHING about football.) The fact those biscuits even exist in their current form is nothing short of a miracle with Peter at first just slapping two sheets of biscuits dough on top of each and hoping it would somehow make a checkerboard pattern. SPOILER ALERT: it did not and he spent quite a performing corrective surgery which is probably why he kind of ran out of time on his Friands, which Paul and Prue deemed “underbaked” by which I think they meant “completely raw in the middle”

Peter’s quick thinking saved him a fair few times as while creating his CRISPY PUFFED RICE DEFINITELY NOT BRANDED CEREAL Cone his paper mould ruptured

It might have something to do with the it being made out of paper but I’m no expert.
Stealing the show were his craquelin topped Lemon and Blackberry Profiteroles – the crunch of which could probably have been heard all the way back in Scotland.

Dave also tried his hand at craquelin topped choux pastry on his Tower of Redemption (which is doing absolutely nothing to dissuade me that he hasn’t killed before) – his were a lot less successful in that he seemed to be concentrating so much on everything else that he didn’t notice how liquidy and flat his choux pastry was

It’s a little sus mate, and he must have realised it once he saw Peter’s because Dave looked like this the entire way through Peter’s very positive critique

That is the look of a man that has tasted human flesh.
His concept was to remake all the bakes that he had done badly on – so his brownies, babkas and those cursed eclairs all featured – the only one of which earned him any redemption being the brownies which were finally gooey enough as Paul very happily found out

The sad thing is he probably could have afforded to start either his Babkas or his Choux Buns again because he had enough time to just sit back and focus his shark-like gaze upon Peter assembling his rather precious CRISPY PUFFED RICE DEFINITELY NOT BRANDED CEREAL Cone.

An absolutely wonderful example of a Bake Off flex.
The high point of his tower was, ironically, the fraisier cake base which looked incredibly neat and polished

And earned him the accolade of being the best example of Fraisier Cake Paul Hollywood has ever tasted.

And then that was it, and it was only left for the judges to deliberate and with Laura serving up something that you wouldn’t be surprised to see on an episode of Taskmaster she was put into a solid third place. And the judges spent so long talking about how Dave and Peter were neck and neck that I genuinely thought we were about to have a Mean Girls style shared Tiara moment. But thankfully they came to the decision and our winner is Little Baby Peter:

Long may the King of Scotland reign. And while Nadiya may still have the most moving acceptance speech of all time, nothing has lifted my spirits more in this Hellish timeline we’ve found ourselves in than hearing Peter’s family going absolute ballistic over the phone when he told them they had won.

And now for our Montage:

And it would be a remiss to leave off the very poignant tribute to Luis:

An icon, a legend and truly one of the Bake Off Allstars – I will never stop thinking about his George vs The Dragon Gingerbread Sculpture.

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