October 31, 2018 9:40 am Leave your thoughts
Ladies and Gents, this was the moment we’d all been waiting for: in an hour of pure hallucination, Channel 4 gave us the final of the Great British Bake-Off 2018. It was one hell of a party – the kind where afterwards you remember just snatches of madness: the production team hoovering up broken glass, the Lost City of Atlantis in biscuit form, Rahul puffing down a fire-blowpipe, Noel buried under a gravestone made of doughnuts, unicorns dancing around post-it notes. It was all some kind of mad dream – and ended, of course, with a dream come true.
The signature challenge was doughnuts, which even the production team couldn’t get too excited about. Giving the technique only cursory attention (get your oil hot enough, but not too hot, don’t overfill, don’t underfill), they concentrated on the family stories behind the contestants instead. Ruby’s school report! Kim-Joy’s fantasy mad-artist board-game world! Rahul looking miserable by the Taj Mahal!
The bakers made mango crème patissiere doughnuts, amaretto crème diplomat doughnuts, dulche de leche and cardamom doughnuts. You can’t get any of those in Greggs, so don’t bother asking.
It was more a test of dexterity with the spatula, really, than of baking skills. Rahul’s mango sauce exploded in his hand, eerily foreshadowing the glass-explosion to come. ‘They look like a doughnut you’d get at a funeral’, remarked Noel with pleasure.
Out of the frying pan
Giddy with the success of mixing up Biscuit Week and Cake Week at the very start of the series, the producers went crazy and took the contestants out of the tent altogether and into the pit of hell. Staring in disbelief at one another around individual fire-pits, like tributes at the start of the Hunger Games, it was clear that more than one of them felt like throwing themselves onto the flames along with the aubergine and garlic.
Again, a test of campfire skills rather than baking, the contestants battled through sweat and fear to produce pitta breads and dips, using hot slates and burning coals. Feel like recreating this at home? Of course you don’t. But if you did, we sell za’atar spice mix here – a mix of wild thyme (za’atar), toasted sesame seeds and sumac (a spice with a tangy, lemony flavour). Our blog here tells you all about it and how to use it.
Out of this world
Back in the comforting and marginally less hot world of the tent, the showstopper demanded a landscape dessert, to be perfectly executed, visually stunning, a delight for the senses and a taste sensation. The bakers summoned up their last reserves to craft magical unicorns, sugar-spun seahorses, snow-topped choux mountains, rolling shortbread hills, buttercream cacti, algae lakes, ice-mould wells and praline-dust pathways. It was, for a few minutes, like entering the mind of a sugar-crazed toddler.
Overwhelmed, Rahul’s storage jar burst, exploding into tiny fragments and bringing a sheepish production team out of the shadows. Clearing up, they wondered how much splintered glass the judges might be prepared to shovel down their throats. ‘It is a sign from God that I need to stop baking’, Rahul thought. But God had still a little time left to grant him: another four hours to go, with fifteen minutes’ injury time added on.
Happily ever after
And suddenly, it was all over once more. Ten weeks of baking done and dusted. Time to meet the other contestants again – Jon, Manon, Briony, Luke, Terry, Imelda, Karen, Antony, Dan. Time to reminisce: that biscuit chandelier! That chickpea-juice meringue! That shirt of Noel’s!
And time for the picnic, where things didn’t get any saner. People dangled off hoops in the trees. Witches danced. Children turned cartwheels. Fairies fluttered by. The sun shone brilliantly, as it had for the last sixteen weeks, and the angels sang for Rahul.
This shy, talkative, diffident, genius baker won, in a fairytale ending that left him so upset he could hardly speak. The other contestants rode him high around the field on their shoulders. Paul decided to adopt him. He’s ‘magic’, he said.
It’s all been magic: the baking, the bakers, the wardrobe choices, the endless sunshine. What will happen next? Will Rahul become a motivational speaker? Will Kim-Joy produce a whimsical animal cookbook? Will Ruby go on Strictly?
You can switch your TV off until next year, now. But stay tuned to Naturally Good Food. And do carry on baking….
Tags: GBBO, Great British Bake Off, Rahul, za'atar
This post was written by Yzanne