Finalists Giuseppe, Crystelle, and Chigs wrap up their season with a wonderous Lewis Carroll-inspired showstopper.
The finale of this season’s The Great British Baking Show sees the tightest competition in the show’s history. Each of the final three bakers—Giuseppe, Crystelle, and Chigs—has won Star Baker twice, and each has had two Paul Hollywood Handshakes. Giuseppe and Chigs have both won technical. Will this week be the week that Crystelle pulls out a technical win and clinch the whole bag? Or will new baker Chigs pull an upset over the experienced Giuseppe?
The finale’s signature: an exquisitely decorated carrot cake, to be completed in two hours. Paul and Prue are looking for inventiveness, a new spin to elevate this often-stodgy cake. Giuseppe puts an Italian spin on his cake, adding fig and walnut jam from his own family’s recipe. Crystelle adds cardamom and orange to her pistachio frosting carrot cake. And Chigs doubles down on the carrots, adding 900 grams of the orange veg to his cake while infusing his sponges with pineapple jam. Timing is key, as the cakes require ample time to cool before frosting. And if the cakes are too hot, they’ll lean, which let’s face it, is decidedly less than exquisite.
As the signature cracks on, Crystelle and Chigs have the advantage as they’re baking two sponges, allowing their cakes more time to cool before they frost their layers. opted to bake one giant sponge that he’ll subsequently cut in half. As predicted, he finds himself in a mad rush to complete his cake. Crystelle also runs into hot sponges—and hers start to lean. Chigs is the first to finish – perhaps all those carrots help stabilize the cake?
Paul and Prue make their rounds, stopping by Crystelle’s station first. They love her cake’s flavor but notice the sponges are leaning, and comment that it lacks the splendid decor they were looking for. Chigs’ cake looks nice, but Prue comments that he has too many carrots, which makes the texture a bit stodgy. Giuseppe is the last to be judged, and his cake’s melted frosting lacks that professional-level quality the judges have grown accustomed to seeing—plus, its texture is off. The judges do like his flavors, which seem to be his cake’s saving grace.
With all three bakers having had some sort of issue with their signature, it’s anyone’s game going into the technical. The technical challenge, set by Paul, is to make 12 Belgian buns. Paul’s a bit cheeky, only giving the bakers two instructions: 1. Make the buns and 2. Ice the buns. He’s putting a lot of faith in the final three to figure the bake out.
None of the bakers seem familiar with the Belgian bun, but they all guess that it’s a cousin to the cinnamon bun, requiring an enriched dough that will be flattened out, spread with lemon curd, and sultanas, then baked and iced with frosting.
Crystelle and Giuseppe both create one dough sheet, spread it with sultanas and curd, and roll and then cut it into 12 buns. Chigs creates two smaller sheets of dough and rolls up his buns. As a result, his buns are a bit taller than Crystelle and Giuseppe’s. Giuseppe bakes his buns for the longest time, and when he removes them from the oven they look burnt. Crystelle is in a rush, but her buns at least look properly baked and rolled.
It’s technical judgment time, and the rankings are as follows: Giuseppe (3), Chigs (2), and Crystelle (1). Crystelle is overjoyed she finally won a technical. Giuseppe is upset he overbaked, a rookie mistake this late in the challenge. Chigs may not have placed last, he knows he’s got to give the showstopper his all if he wants to win.
It’s showstopper time, and the bakers are tasked with creating an Outstanding Mad Hatter Tea Party Display. They must incorporate four different baked elements. Their displays should have a mix of sweet and savory treats fit for an afternoon tea. Paul and Prue are looking to be transported to wonderland with these showstoppers. The bakers have four and a half hours to complete their showstoppers, leaving their bakes little room for error.
Chigs’ centerpiece is a Cheshire cat cake, surrounded by chicken and mushroom “clock” pies, shortbread biscuit “playing cards,” and brioche toadstools. Giuseppe’s making his centerpiece a hazelnut and chocolate toadstool cake, asparagus, and pea choux buns in the shape of a caterpillar, queen of heart pastries, and brandy snaps with panna cotta. Crystelle’s centerpiece features a za’atar focaccia, with chickpea curry “hat” pies, chai sunflower cakes, and brown butter and cardamom “toadstool” biscuits.
Giuseppe gets off to a rough start, realizing he left his oven open, costing him precious heating time. He ends up behind Chigs and Crystelle in their baking. Chigs seems cool and calm, noting that he made his brioche toadstools with a method he picked up from Jürgen. Maybe he picked up some calming techniques from Jürgs too? Crystelle is all about oil with her focaccia, saturating her dough as she preps it to bake.
It’s a mad rush for the bakers to finish, especially Giuseppe. They all finish in time, coming together for a finalist hug. The end of the showstopper is a bittersweet moment—the bakers are relieved they’ve reached the end, but sad that this is their last time baking in the tent. It’s always heartwarming to see the finalists gather and congratulate each other on a job well done.
It’s showstopper judgment time. First up is Giuseppe. Paul comments that his display looks simple but effective. They love the baked items, commenting that the hazelnut and chocolate mushroom cake has lovely, classic Italian flavors. Giuseppe wins them over with his panna cotta and brandy snaps. Paul and Prue can’t stop eating the creamy treat.
No pressure for the next baker, Chigs, who presents them with an impressive and mad-looking tea display. They expected the Cheshire cat cake to look a little bit bigger, but the flavors are all there. Paul thought Chigs’ chicken pies were delicious, and even though his playing cards were a simple shortbread biscuit, their design was clever.
Last up is Crystelle. Paul and Prue love the colors in her display. Her cardamom biscuits were lovely, and her chai flavored “sunflower” cakes were great, and they like her Goan curried pies. When Paul and Prue went to try her focaccia, Prue commented that her bake doesn’t resemble focaccia. Paul says she’s served them raw dough – there’s no rise, and it looks like she didn’t even bake it. Crystelle is devastated, but Paul and Prue comment that what they were able to try in her showstopper had good flavors.
It’s time to announce the winner. There’s fanfare and a small gathering of the cast and crew who were in the bubble during the two months of production. They gather outside, and Noel announces Giuseppe as the winner of The Great British Baking Show. Crystelle and Chigs hug Giuseppe, and he’s shocked to be crowned the winner. He’s emotional. He thinks of his father, who taught him to bake in Italy as a child, and can’t wait to share the news with his family. Chigs looks onward to his next goal in his life, and Crystelle is proud of herself for making it to the finals
- Well done to Giuseppe for being the first Italian to win The Great British Baking Show! Anyone else relieved he can do laundry now?
- Chigs didn’t list his next goal, but the show has launched him into internet boyfriend status. And Crystelle was lovely and pulled out some winning creations. Call me a Mad Hatter, but I think they’d both pull off successful cooking shows. Your move, Netflix!
- There was no cold open, rather a recap of the show and the final bakers at the top of the show. So, the cringe factor? Zero. More of this, please.