It was Judgement Day in the most famous tent in the land: after what seemed like months (well, 10 weeks, actually) it was finally the final with the last three ‘pinnies’ standing. Kim-Joy, Ruby and Rahul had nozzles drawn at dawn, after beating, whisking and rolling their way into the last show of a very successful series.
As ever Noel and Sandi held court, and seemed to have far more fun than any of the judges or contestants. In fact fun seemed to be a bit sparse this year, the tasks and challenges being far too complex, and, just like that other cookery monolith MasterChef, there’s very little on the screen that I’d actually want to eat.
The show stared promisingly enough with doughnuts being the opener. I, like anyone with a modicum of taste, love doughnuts and oddly enough, they are the latest fashion! I actually love the ones you get on Yarmouth seafront: in fact I’d pay just to watch the machine that makes them - eating them is just an added bonus.
But as ever, the bakers couldn’t leave a good thing alone and instead of a choice between jam and custard we got Kim-Joy’s bee rings and amaretto custard doughnuts that were decorated a tasteful shade of florescent blue and adorned with UFOs. Ruby’s psychedelic galaxy fried buns were deemed “too sweet and too sticky” (as if a doughnut can ever be too much of either of these two things) while Rahul’s rings resembled a deep-fried funeral wreath and his mango doughnuts were like cartoon bombs, being more filling than dough (again, no bad thing in this chef’s opinion). His icing not only exploded out of the doughnuts, but also out of the bag when he squeezed it too hard – a theme which would be revisited later in the competition. Kim-Joy seemed to get the nod on the doughnuts.
The final technical challenge was greeted with shock and horror as the bakers literally went from the tent into the fire and were forced to cook outside on an open fire on one of the hottest days of the year. There was so much build up, preparation and faff - only to find out they just have to make six pittas and three dips.
I’m sorry, I know its bang on trend and achingly fashionable but I just don’t get the excitement that’s inspired by cooking al fresco. You have an oven within ten yards, and yet you want to cook on open coals? Leave it to the Boy Scouts or the cavemen. Neither of them know any better. Kim-Joy seemed confident and indeed hers were deemed the best – KIM-JOY WINNING A TECHNICAL SHOCKER. Rahul was in full panic mode, asking for help and lamenting on numerous occasions: “I don’t know what I’m doing”. He added: “This one is like the sole of a shoe. That is completely burnt. Disgraceful again. I wish I could scrape off the burned bits. Just an utter disgrace of a pitta.” Despite his blackened pitta shoe soles, Rahul came second in the technical challenge – heaven knows how awful Ruby’s pitas must have been.
Before he moved on to the final challenge, Rahul revealed his secret weapon for success: after a good night’s sleep he would be having “a glass of milk” to calm himself down in preparation for the big day. Rock star.
It was nip and tuck, but Kim-Joy seemed to have the crown in the bag, and when the final showstopper was revealed - an edible landscape with at least three differing elements - we all felt the trophy was being engraved with her name as they weighed out the ingredients. However the show ended in farce, as all three contestants produced something that was truly hideous. There’s an old adage that you “eat with your eyes”: I bet the judges wish they had a blindfold to hand.
The “landscapes” literally looked as if they were made by a collective effort from a playgroup’s cookery session, or the sort of cake you made for your youngster’s birthday when you had no money to buy a proper one. All your relatives told you it was a great effort, but the disappointment in your child’s face would haunt you for years come. Prue said of one: “it doesn’t make my mouth water” but I’ve no doubt it made her retch. Whoever thought this would be a good end to the show should be forced to eat all three cakes, one after the other. It’s difficult to be positive even though you want to finish on a high.
Ruby made a Kim-Joy inspired passionfruit cake in front of a choux mountain with a blue glass lake and unicorns while Kim-Joy made the Lost City of Atlantis Dessert Landscape rendered in ginger cake and gingerbread. All three resembled a dog’s breakfast. Oh for the days of a wedding cake as the final showstopper.
Kim-Joy and Ruby seemed somewhat deflated and looked perplexed that they had come so far, only to be given a near impossible task at the finishing line. Rahul looked like a car mechanic with a petrol stained apron while his workstation looked like a secondary school’s art class – then a glass jar exploded all over his work due to the intense heat, contaminating all his ingredients and meaning he had to start all over again. He was given an extra 15 minutes to complete his “rock garden” cake, which included a delicious-sounding “sludge lake”. Yum. His resulting cake was astonishing for all the wrong reasons, but Paul and Rahul obviously have “a thing” going on as Paul described it as delicious and perfectly baked. Clearly love has no taste as well as being blind.
And so to the winner…
I almost think they put the names in a hat, yet Paul’s favourite from the very off triumphed and somehow Rahul was crowned the winner. Noel said “I can't believe it!” - nor could 95 per cent of the viewers. Rahul didn’t know what to say. For once, nor did I.
I'm sorry to say I don’t see book deals and TV shows on the horizon for Rahul: he’s a very nice man and I’m sure his nervousness and oddities will endear him to many, but I’m thinking he’s more an Eddie the Eagle of the cake world than a Nadiya. I’m seeing lottery advertisements for him and Specsavers endorsements for Paul.
The real winners of 2019 are undoubtedly Noel, Sandi and indeed Channel 4 for taking a punt on such an odd coupling to front the show and putting the icing on the cake of an already stupefyingly successful idea. I’m hoping next year the plucky contestants will be allowed to get back to basics and do some proper baking. In an oven. Here’s looking forward to 2019!