Who knew baking was manly? Well it is, baking is really manly. Crying over baking, that's really manly too. This has all been proven in the nail biting, adrenaline inducing, and really rather surprising finale of The Great British Bake Off tonight. The final three challenges were a savoury French Pithivier, the technical challenge was the task of making 25 identical French fancies, and finally the show-stopper was to be a cake on a 'personal theme of 2012'.
12 contestants were gradually whittled down to three, Brendan, John and James, and tonight that final three was whittled down to one. Most of us avid and dedicated viewers were probably torn between the three. Brendan's strategy was to be absolutely meticulous. Almost everything he produced was absolutely immaculate, beautifully presented and always baked well. His vast knowledge of cakes, breads and pastries rivals even that formidable judge Paul Hollywood, and he genuinely surprised both judges more than once. However, even with an incredibly history in Bake-Off, it was not Brendan who won (a few fans may feel a little put out by this).
Scotch medical student James, who insisted on whiskey in his at least one recipe per episode also missed out on the top spot not when his pethivier was just a little underdone, but when he attempted to make five cakes in the time that Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood had asked for just one in the showstopper challenge. And it truly is the show stopper that everything seems to rest on, week on week. Thus, it was John, 22-year-old law graduate from Manchester who scooped the prize. His show-stopper, which was the clincher, was heaven and hell themed with dark chocolate and orange as the hell, and lemon and coconut meringues crowning it in a heavenly halo. John's reaction to the win, as the Huffington Post quotes, was “I feel faint, really, really queasy. I cannot believe it. I've finally done something to please my mother.”
Although John's win may come as a major surprise, we Brits have always loved an underdog. Brendan's consistent success was just a little daunting, plus, as Mary Berry pointed out, he was very good at rehearsed recipes but less consistent with the technical challenges. If you're already worrying about what to do now that that Bake-Off is over, fear not! There will be three more masterclass episodes beginning next week. Plus, Paul Hollywood is set to star in his own show, all about baking bread. We can't wait!