The Great British Bake Off: Heaven on a Plate

12122611_907630309320627_540592188338083242_nPreviously on The Great British Bake Off: Flora finally bowed out, and then there were three.

Tamal, Ian, and Nadiya suit up in the tent. Nadiya whispers to Tamal that she’s really nervous. We’re reminded of how excellent they’ve all been thus far. Remember when Nadiya used to come in last in the technicals? She’s really turned that around, hasn’t she? Apparently, Ian keeps a journal. For those of you who like to know these things.

Judges and presenters appear and holy cow, who’s dressing Mel and Sue? Their outfits are almost engrossingly bad. Thankfully, the camera cuts away from them quickly so they can give the first challenge: two types of filled iced buns.

Paul reminds us that this is the final, so everything the bakers make needs to be their best. Mary really wants a wonderfully soft bun just crammed with flavor. She actually gets rather rhapsodic about the whole thing.

Tamal is making a citrus marmalade bun with a caramel crème pat and a cinnamon and apple bun. Those both sound fabulous and I want a dozen. Of each. Paul doesn’t seem to be too keen on the fact that they’re going to be topped with an unflavoured royal icing.

Doughs are kneaded. This is an enriched dough, meaning it has butter and egg in it, which can be a little tricky to work with. The fat can slow down the proving. Doughs are popped in proving drawers. Nadiya’s thinking aloud for our benefit, in case we’re dying to know how long she wants to prove this dough for.

Ian’s doing two different doughs for his buns: an elderflower filled with lemon curd and a spiced dough flavoured with cardamom and cinnamon and filled with apple cranberry jam. Again, fantastically delicious, but I wonder if the elderflower flavor is really going to come through in a bread dough. We shall see. Mary wonders if he’s going to finish on time and Paul tells him he has to. Like he doesn’t know that.

Tamal gets worried because he isn’t flavouring his dough, just the filling.

Nadiya and Tamal try their doughs in the ovens on the proving setting, because the dough isn’t rising very fast.

Nadiya is so nervous her hands are shaking. She’s making a cardamom dough (yum!) and filling one half with sour cherry jam and the other with almond crème patissiere. Paul gets all ‘wot’s this witchcraft?’ when he finds out the almond buns will be round, and Mary a little indignantly wonders why a filled bun couldn’t be round? Seriously, Paul, think outside the box a teensy bit here.

The doughs are looking fairly nice and risen. Dough is shaped and back down to prove while the Bakewells work on fillings. Nadiya’s putting some lemon powder in with her cherries to make the filling a teensy bit more sour. She doesn’t want to add lemon juice, because it could make the filling too loose. Good call.

While buns bake, Nadiya starts to panic a little because she’s not batch-baking her buns, which is bound to piss off Paul, who likes his baked buns to touch and have squidgy sides. Tamal teases her a little bit about it. If you were just coming into this you’d think he was being a douche, but it’s all done with love.

Buns come out and are filled. Tamal’s crème pat is a bit loose. A batch of Ian’s buns look strange and he’s not sure why. Nadiya’s doing some really precise piping. Tamal can’t use his crème pat because it won’t set, so he starts frantically whipping icing. Icing is piped, buns are set on trays. Time is called. Tamal is clearly pissed off at himself over that crème pat.

Ian’s up first. Mary’s amazed he finished on time. The icing is a little messy, but the filling looks good. Paul tries one of the cardamom ones and says the icing doesn’t go with the bun. Ian admits something about those ones doesn’t seem right and Paul asks if he put sugar in it. Oh, right! Yeah, he seems to have forgotten sugar. The other bun is delicious, though. Mary calls it sheer heaven on a plate. They do sound awfully nice.

Nadiya’s buns look beautiful and tempting, according to Mary. Paul notes that there is no ‘rip’ on them. I have no idea what the heck he means. Both taste fantastic, though. Paul says they tick all the boxes: neat and full of flavor.

Tamal’s buns lack shine to their icing, but the flavors are quite delicious.

Afterwards, Ian laughs that he’ll remember ‘heaven on a plate’ and also not forget sugar next time. Nadiya’s relieved Paul didn’t hate her buns.

Now for their last ever technical: six raspberry millefeuille. In their tea tent, Paul says this challenge was chosen because they’ve all had issues with pastry throughout the Bake Off. They need to make a nice crispy pastry and nice fillings.

Tamal says he’s not so familiar with rough puff and Nadiya realizes why they’ve been set this particular challenge. Tamal has taken his grated butter and just mashed it back together to make a block, the way you would do with regular puff. Uh, Tamal…

While dough chills, they make raspberry jam. They also have to make a sugar syrup. Tamal complains that there are no instructions for that. Oh, come on, you just dissolve sugar in warm water over a low heat. Easy as pie. Next, they roll out pink and white fondant to make striped icing. Pastry comes out of the fridge and is divided up into rectangles and popped into the oven. Tamal’s comes out looking really terrible. Ian laughingly wonders why he’s put himself through this. Nadiya has no idea how to cut this pastry. Tamal’s having trouble staying motivated, knowing he’s already doing poorly. Nadiya’s brain is having some sort of meltdown. Millefeuilles are frantically assembled. Time is called.

One last time, Paul and Mary come strolling in. They start with Tamal’s, which are a mess, breaking and slumping all over. The pastry is cooked, so there’s that. Nadiya’s look neater but the pastry is a little too thin. The fondant top of Ian’s didn’t bond because the syrup wasn’t thick enough. His pastry is underdone, though flaky. Good jam, though. Judgment: Tamal, Ian, Nadiya. Tamal’s pastry was so bad Paul actually asks him what the hell he did.

Afterwards, Nadiya laughs that her only first in a technical came in the final. Hey, if you have to save it for something, that’s the one.

Last day, last challenge. They have to make a single flavoured, multi-tiered cake and it has to look and taste amazing. Off they go.

For his final showstopper, Tamal is doing a sticky toffee pudding cake. Yes. Please. I LOVE sticky toffee pudding. He’s decorating it with spun sugar, and Paul points out that it’s super humid that day and that can be a problem with caramel. We’ll see how this goes.

Time to get into some of the bakers’ histories. Look, it’s a picture of infant Tamal! Apparently his older sister taught him how to bake, which is adorable. Also adorable: toddler Tamal. Like, really adorable. His sister talks about how incredibly proud of him she is. We’re reminded that he’s been doing all this while also training to be an anaesthetist, which really is freaking amazing. The weather is seriously screwing him over here—it’s pissing down rain—but he manages to stay positive about it.

Ian is making a carrot cake that sounds really delicious. I hope I can get my hands on that recipe, because my husband loves carrot cake. He’s making five cakes and stacking them on a curving stand he’s built himself (of course he has). He’s decorating these cake with a cascading icing carrot. Sue asks him if he’s been eating any strange mushrooms while out foraging.

Ian’s children are cute, but his son is obviously not at all interested in being interviewed for television. The kid’s clearly bored as hell, while his tiny daughter does all the talking. To be fair, the kid is all of, maybe, three or four. His wife tells us Ian entered because she wanted to go to the tea party at the end. Fair enough. It’s bound to be an awesome party. We get to see their impossibly charming, impossibly British timbered house. There’s a shot of the kitchen after one of Ian’s practice sessions and it’s just trashed, completely piled with broken bits of pastry and pans and tins. I crack up because that’s exactly what my kitchen looks like whenever I bake. We had a brunch last weekend and it looked like a baking bomb went off in there. But the doughnuts were spectacular.

Time to bake these babies. Nadiya’s doing a lemon drizzle wedding cake. She never had a cake at her own wedding, so this is her way to kind of make up for that. The cakes will be filled with lemon curd and buttercream. She’s making her own fondant, because she saw what happened last year when someone used bought fondant and Mary almost cut him in half with her glare.

Nadiya’s kids are, unsurprisingly, cute as well. Her daughter apparently really likes cake. Her husband says that these last few weeks have been hard because he’s had all the kid care fall into his hands and that’s made him really appreciate just how damn hard it is. Good for him. He goes on to say that this is the first time she’s really gone away and done something for herself and he’s seen her confidence grow. I’m not at all surprised to learn that Nadiya’s husband is a really great guy.

Nadiya starts melting some marshmallows for her fondant while cakes start coming out of ovens. She kneads melted marshmallows together with icing sugar and that’s how you get fondant. That’s good to know. What do you do if you don’t have a microwave, I wonder?

Ian gets ready to put his next batch of cakes in and realizes he totally forgot to add orange to the mixture. Oops! Good thing he realized before he baked, right?

Their families start gathering, and thankfully the rain has stopped. Former Bakewells start weighing in on their favourites. Mat checks to see whose family is nearby (heh) and then says he thinks Nadiya will win.

Paul starts prowling through the tent, purposely making everyone nervous. Tamal’s busy with his sugarwork, Nadiya rolls out fondant and smooths it onto her cakes, Ian’s frosting away. Tamal has accidentally left his toffee frosting in the fridge too long and it’s set rock hard, so now he has to melt it back down. Thank god for microwaves right now. The icing melts enough that he can frost his cakes. Crisis averted! Ian’s cutting it really close, so his decorating is getting a bit slapdash. He gets it done, though. They all do, and man, do these bakes look good. In years past the final challenge cakes have always looked terrible to me. It’s like the Bakewells just hit their wall that last week, or something. But these are splendid. Tamal’s look really great, in these nests of delicate spun sugar, and Nadiya’s look very professional. Ian actually cries with relief when they’re done.

Mary and Paul come into the tent and start with Nadiya’s showstopper. Mary says it looks spectacular and Paul says it’s really elegant and the flowers on top look beautiful. The bake is perfect, and the cake is amazing. Mary compliments the marshmallow method of making fondant. Paul says this is stunning. She tears up.

Tamal presents next. It’s really cool looking, with this crazy spiderweb-type thing made of caramel in the middle. Mary adores it and Paul says this was a tricky thing to do, turning sticky toffee pudding into a cake. And yet, he pulled it off. Mary adores it. Paul really likes it. High marks all around.

Finally, Ian. He’s made one of the best carrot cakes Paul’s ever had. Yes, I must get this recipe. He’s also managed to get every single cake exactly uniform, despite having to make multiple batches.

Andt hat’s it. They bring their cakes out to their waiting families and friends and get lots of hugs and applause. The judges confer. It really seems at this point like it could be anyone’s game. Mel says that if Mary and Paul can’t agree, they’ve got the mud pit ready and they can wrestle it out in fine Bake Off tradition. ‘Please wear the thong, Paul,’ she adds. HA! Why weren’t they this funny the whole rest of the season?

The time has come. And the winner is…Nadiya!!!!!!!!!! YAY! I’ll admit, I’d have been happy if any of them won (you know what? I just realized that nobody this year actually got on my nerves. That’s a first!) but I’m really, really happy for her. She seems so nice. Her family is so incredibly happy—one son actually seems to wipe away tears. And HOW CUTE is her little daughter fist-pumping for her mum? SO CUTE. Her family races over to embrace her. She can’t even speak to the camera, just kind of points to her trophy and herself with a ‘can you believe this?’ look on her face while she cries.

Tamal and Ian talk about how pleased they are for her. Tamal also makes cute with her kids, then jokes to the camera that Nadiya is going to be insufferable and will never shut up about this. Heh.

‘I’m never going to say “I don’t think I can,”’ Nadiya says. Excuse me while I tear up a little bit. Man, even Mary starts crying a bit talking about Nadiya’s win. This one really hit a nerve with everyone. Nadiya’s husband hugs her and tells her she’s amazing. Oh, man. Man, these awesome people.

Ok, time to catch up with everyone. Since the Bake Off…

Stu has started a blog and won an award for his music.

Marie has made cakes for family and friends, including a massive robot cake for her son’s 40th.

Dorret is working with two restaurants to develop desserts for their menus.

Sandy is still running baking classes at school and is talking to the council about running creative cooking sessions to inspire people to bake.

Ugne has been concentrating on advanced baking techniques and training for a bodybuilding competition.

Alvin has been making cakes for charity auctions and hopes to join a patisserie course next year.

Mat moved house and became a dad (awww, teeny tiny baby!).

Paul keeps getting stopped at the grocery store by people who want to talk about his amazing bread lion.

Flora has started a history of art and maths course at university and constantly has to bake for her flatmates.

Ian has steered clear of squid ink but still builds fancy metal bits for his bakes. He also recently made an 80th birthday cake for the Dalai Lama. Holy crap, that’s huge!

Tamal has passed his medical exams and is making wedding cakes for his friends.

Nadiya is moving house (guess that book deal cheque cleared) and is currently working on a lychee cheesecake recipe.

That’s it for this series. Until next year!

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