13,000 applications and just three of those successfully able to call themselves a finalist.
Ruby – The youngest of the three who has attracted the most media attention this week and possibly throughout the series. Clearly despite any negativity out there she also has a huge fan base – possibly for her instinctive flair.
Kimberley – Steady and strong. We’ve seen no tears at all from her. Her focus and resolve are unparalleled as is her extensive technical knowledge. She’s worked hard and produced stunning flavours throughout the series winning praise from Paul and Mary alike.
Frances – She’s been cited as the most creative baker to ever set foot in the tent. I would agree. I have loved each of her bakes and the creative thinking process that has gone behind each one. Take a look at her website for a glimpse into how her mind works and it’s clear that there is much attention to detail there but she has also proven her substance can match her style.
The Signature Bake – A Savoury Picnic Pie
I thought this was an odd challenge for the final as we had seen pies already but Paul explained that he and Mary wanted to see the use of pastry again. A second chance to redeem mistakes made. The pie had to be presented freeform (not in a tin) and have distinct layers all the way through.
Frances sought inspiration from the British weather with a sunshine and showers theme resulted in a Rainbow Picnic Pie. A picnic hamper outer with layers of beetroot, green beans, tomatoes and so many that I cannot recall. It was presented on mock turf with a few simple flowers so she’d listened to the weeks of feedback and toned it down. The judges loved it.
They cut into crisp pastry to reveal beautiful colourful layers. Tastes were complimented upon but there has to be a but and it has to be from Paul. It was “10 minutes away from perfection”. He would have liked to see it browner.
Ruby also opted for a picnic basket route and hers was filled with mozzarella, halloumi, sundried tomatoes and basil. I loved the lattice work of the base. It all looked very dodgy going in so you didn’t see this detail until she turned it out.
She’d not lined the tin so this was a bit hit and miss but it really did look beautiful with the criss-crossing pastry lines. Paul thought it was “sublime” and Mary’s lovely school teacher like critique was that it was “an excellent vegetarian pie”.
Kimberley’s pastry base included stripes of green and would be topped with pig piglets. Lovely idea which I hoped would work because again this was a nice technical move. Sadly though moisture was her enemy as the judges had feared. She had not cooked her ingredients like the other two and so there was much leakage leading to much crackage and sadly the beautiful stripes weren’t really commented on as her meat, meat and meat pie just didn’t meet the judges favour. The flavours were “OK” but the textures were “all wrong”. Oh dear. I would have been mortified and packed a bag home there and then but Kimberley being Kimberley took it all in her brave stride.