The finale is anything but a picnic for the final three bakers as they compete one last time in the Bake Off tent.
By stepping into the tent for the series ten finale of The Great British Baking Show, anyone can win. Sandro, known for his sky-high bakes and dazzling décor, put a lot on the line this season as the first-ever Star Baker winner. And while he may have been the first, Adbul was the latest Star Baker winner, clinching the title in last week’s semifinals. Not far behind is Syabira, the series’ flavor queen and the only baker this season to have won three Star Baker titles.
First is the signature challenge. Paul and Prue task the bakers with creating a summer picnic using seasonal British ingredients. The bakers have three hours to make six mini cakes, six vegetable cakes, and six sandwiches from white bread. It is one of the most daunting firms in GBBO history, putting bakers to the test in many techniques (dessert, pastry and bread) while also celebrating local and sustainable ingredients.
Syabira goes with “porkless empanadas” that contain eggplant instead of pork, sandwiches made with cilantro and salsa verde, and a Swiss roll with rosemary cream. Abdul creates Yorkshire cheesecakes with fettle cheese, beetroot and cheese sandwiches, and tarragon and cherry Swiss rolls. Sandro opts to make cauliflower and cheese pies, egg and watercress sandwiches, lemon pies, and adding extra tarts to his signature. At this point, we’re all Paul and Prue, knowing there’s no stopping Sandro when he starts adding extra elements to the challenge.
It’s a mad race to the finish line, but the bakers manage to get it all out on time. Paul and Prue make their rounds, starting with Abdul. His picnic looks good, even if his sandwiches are irregular in size. The herb content in the cake, with the fettle cheese, is a lovely combination. His Swiss roll doesn’t have the strongest tarragon flavor, but that works to his advantage as Paul and Prue enjoy the cherry filling. Next up is Sandro, whose picnic display is a cornucopia of goodies. His egg and watercress sandwiches are delicious. His empanada pie is raw, but the filling is delicious. His lemon cakes and tarts work very well. He leaves the judges with glasses of champagne, which is a dangerous move since it puts Prue in a good mood for Syabira. Paul’s comment to Syabira is that his picnic items look like they’re on display in a hotel, which is a good thing, since it means they’re all identical in shape and size. They enjoy their cilantro and salsa verde sandwiches and their pork-free pies, but feel the rosemary cream is too overwhelming on their Swiss roll.
Getting technical, it seems like all the bakers are on the same page. Since no one had a disastrous signature, technicians could make or break bakers. Paul lays out the technique and warns the bakers that they “only get one shot at this.” With that, they have two hours to create a summer pudding bomb with a berry-elderflower jelly filling and custard meringue bits, all topped with raspberry-soaked bread. This pudding is quintessential British food (I mean, where else would fruit-soaked bread be stuffed with jam and cream?), and all our bakers are unfamiliar with pudding.
The technique is deliciously messy. Bakers work with vegetable gelatin to make their gelatin. While standard gelatin only requires hot water to bloom, vegetable gelatin requires boiling to set. Syabira and Adbul boil their jelly, but Sandro opts for hot water, leaving him with a watery jelly. Then there’s the raspberry syrup to coat the bread slices. Sandro and Syabira soak their slices a lot and run out of syrup for their slices. Abdul dipped slightly into his pan. Sandro also decides to cut his bread into circles, which seems like a bold move considering the instructions say to cut it into rectangles.
As the technique ends, everyone has problems with their bomb settings. They all plate them up, but they all look like blobs of bread, cream, and jelly. While this challenge wasn’t as disastrous as the technical brownie in 2020, it certainly was tricky. The baker whose dessert looks the most like a bombe is Abdul, who ranks first. Syabira ranks second, as the bomb from him went off, but the jelly from him set. And Sandro ranks third, since his bomb really was an unarmed disaster. But he gets points for his lovely fruit glaze!
In the words of host Matt, it all comes down to sensational. The bakers have four and a half hours to create a large edible sculpture with a large cake base that also displays three additional baking skills. The theme is “our planet,” so Paul and Prue are looking for sculptures that celebrate the world. As Prue says, God may have had seven days, but bakers only have a few hours to create a world of pies. The pressure is on Syabira, Sandro and Abdul to create their own mundane cakes.
In the end, all the bakers get their smashing out on time, but they’re all a bit of a mess.
Sandro’s cake features tiers that celebrate the world from different angles: one for the ocean, one for the sky, and one for the stars and planets. Paul and Prue wonder if he’s bitten off more than he can chew, but taking big risks helped Sandro win his place in the final. Abdul’s cake will celebrate bees, with layers of honey cake, bee macarons and raspberry profiteroles. Syabira makes an orangutan cake that will contain a layer of forest cakes. She also admits that she hasn’t fully practiced to make her sensational, which is a red flag for Paul.
As the baking progresses, Abdul seems to be in control and shows his time table. Sandro trusts his instincts to bake his cake, in order to know when to take it out of the oven when it is browned. Syabira may not have Abdul’s time table, but he does set a timer to make sure he doesn’t overbake.
There is a higher level of emotion around the sensational. After two years of strict Covid restrictions, friends and family are allowed to attend the final ceremony. There is a picnic in the estate grounds. The contestants from previous episodes appear, each expressing their thoughts on who will win.
As the sensational finale winds down, Sandro gets into a bit of trouble with his pound cake. He takes it out of the oven when he detects a faint burning smell. The sponges look good and will have to work as it’s too late to start over and bake again. Abdul also has problems with his choux bun and macarons decoration, both of which fail. Syabira’s problems seem more to do with decorating, as her orangutan face is messy at best.
In the end, all the bakers get their smashing out on time, but they’re all a bit of a mess. Sandro is the first to judge. His bread is chewy, and his lemon-plum cake has great flavor but is overcooked to Paul’s taste. Sandro’s profiteroles with raspberry and cream were delicious, even if they were hidden under a layer of crumbly chocolate. And his cookie decorations were too baked too.
Next up is Syabira. His orangutan is smart, even if the face is messy. Their Black Pepper Pound Cake with Blackberry Jam and Hazelnut Buttercream had that classic Syabira flavor, but Paul and Prue are divided on the ratio of buttercream to cake. In short, their flavors were excellent.
The last one is Abdul. Paul likes colours, bright yellows balanced with creamy white frosting. The cake, upon closer inspection, is messy. Paul and Prue like the honey sponge, even if the honey is too sweet. And while the macarons don’t have the classic macaron dome, they are better than their choux pastries, which are a real flop. Abdul’s cookie topping was a triumph, but it may not be enough to get you crowned the winner.
In the end, it is Syabira who wins the title of The Great British Baking Show. Abdul and Sandro are proud of their achievements and happy that Syabira was victorious. Syabira herself is delighted and she says that it has been some time since there has been a female winner, so this victory is for the girls.
- Very happy that Syabira won The Great British Baking Show! She was always a joy in the kitchen and I love that she never compromised on her flavors, despite Paul and Prue’s constant “one off” comments.
- I also enjoyed watching Abdul bake in the shop! He seemed to have a natural talent for baking, even when he was baffled by certain challenges. It will be exciting to see where he goes after the show.
- Sandro, my dear Sandro, I have the feeling that he is going to become a pastry star for sure. I got to see it going the Crystelle route from last season – she found success on social media and made appearances on TV shows. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him. As a side note, how nice is it that Sandro’s mom is called Sandra?
- While there were good times (everyone laughed at the disastrous bombs in this episode) and bad times (the Mexican Week episode) in the tent, The Great British Baking Show overall it’s still a lovely show celebrating hobby bakers. Watching the last three bakers get emotional at the end (Sandro crying because he got to live his dream? GIVE ME ALL THE KNITS!) was a touching scene. Time will tell if the next attempt at a US version: The Great American Baking Show – will have the same charm.