Great British Bake Off 2015, Week 9 - The Final

Great British Bake Off 2015, Week 10 - The Final

by Howard Middleton 08 October 2015

In what feels like the blink of an eye we have reached the Bake Off final, leaving us feeling equal parts excited and bereft. Series four legend Howard Middleton takes us through the action in the tent for a final time, with tears, tiers and heartwarming celebrations.

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Howard is a food writer and presenter from Sheffield, who first caught the public’s attention on series four of The Great British Bake Off, going on to win their affection with his quirky style and love of unusual ingredients.

Howard is a food writer and presenter from Sheffield, who first caught the public’s attention on series four of The Great British Bake Off, going on to win their affection with his quirky style and love of unusual ingredients.

So it’s come to this… the agony and ecstasy of ten intense weeks in the tent leave us with our triumphant trio, Ian, Nadiya and Tamal. They look utterly exhausted.

Stepping into the tent for the last weekend, it’s filled iced buns for the signature bake. Mary is dewy eyed at the prospect of light, squidgy enriched dough, lashings of filling and soft icing that yields to the tooth. Tamal is finishing his with crisp royal icing – it’s enough to set her teeth on edge. His fillings are cinnamon and apple and citrus marmalade with caramel crème patissiere. The marmalade is deemed delicious but his crème pat hasn’t set and he has to serve it in a jug on the side. If this were Masterchef, he might claim it was ‘deconstructed’ – for Bake Off it’s just ‘unfinished’.

Ian is also risking the wrath of the clock by making two types of dough – flavouring one with elderflower and lemon curd and the other with cardamom, cinnamon and apple and cranberry jam. Something’s just not right with half of his rolls – too late he realises he forgot the sugar, leaving them dull and hard. Ian looks uncomfortable. Paul claims Ian’s crispy baps are sending all his senses out but his lemon rolls are ‘dynamite’. Mary says she approves of the louche way his cream is spilling out. Ian still looks uncomfortable.

Nadiya fares better with cardamom rolls filled with almond crème pat and a nutmeg variety with sour cherry jam. Paul’s eyebrows rise as she breaks with tradition and chooses not to batch-bake but he can’t fault the look and taste of the finished products.

Nadiya hits Tamal with her best Resisting Batch Face
Ian takes a moment to forlornly remember The Sugar That Got Away

Now it’s fair to say that all three finalists have had their pastry problems, so this week’s technical makes them face their demons with a testing task of raspberry mille feuille. The bakers wrangle with the rough puff, ponder the production of pink and white candy-striped icing, and wonder where on earth their sugar syrup is meant to go, but they all make a decent stab at the challenge. Tamal’s pastry lets him down, Ian’s filling isn’t full, so it’s Nadiya who finishes on top.

This series has undoubtedly had more balancing acts than any other and it’s tiers again for the final showstopper, which has to draw inspiration from a classic British cake.

Tamal is sailing off the British brief by styling his cakes with inspiration from an abandoned Chinese fishing village, but he brings it all back home with delicious sticky toffee pudding flavours. His sugar cobwebs look sensational too.

Nadiya has opted for lemon drizzle, which she douses liberally with charming sentiment, creating a ‘Big Fat British Wedding Cake’. Fired up with nervous energy, she’s seen running around the tent, blowing hot and cold from freezer to microwave. Paul unnervingly asks her, 'Happy Nadiya?' and the nation cheers when she boldly replies, 'Happy Paul?' Her efforts turn out to be ‘stunning’.

Ian’s so-called ‘Colossal Curvy Carrot Cake’ is ambitious, with five layers, two cake mixes and one huge carrot decoration, but he achieves something that Paul describes as ‘spot on’.

Nadiya attempts a mid-challenge Macarena
The face that spawned a thousand gifs: Nadiya sasses Paul and the internet rejoices
Tamal's impressive, weather surviving sugar work

As the ovens are turned off, Tamal and Nadiya are teary, Ian sobs with relief and all three walk out of the tent with their ultimate bakes.

They faced flaounes, tussled with a tennis cake and went head to head with a big choux nun. Now they step into the sunlight to be greeted by friends, family, fellow bakers and what appears to be a coachload of country folk extras from Poldark wearing flowers in their hair.

The residue of the last battle is smeared across those oatmeal aprons as Sue announces that the winner is… Nadiya! There’s no need to explain wonderful Nadiya’s success but Mary tries, says ‘sheer perfection’ (patent pending) one last time, then chokes up and has to scurry away. I blub too.

And that’s all folks. Nadiya’s perfect peanut dust has settled and the tent falls eerily silent for another year. (Well, not counting Bake Off master classes, Junior Bake Off or any charity Bake Offs that may come along.) Spun-sugar tumbleweed blows across the BBC’s autumn schedule and our lives are sharply stamped with a hole the size of a heart-shaped biscuit cutter. Fortunately, there’s a glimmer of hope in the knowledge that the hunt is on for next year’s band of baking hopefuls. So how can we comfort ourselves until August 2016? Well, here’s an idea… On your marks, get set… Bake!