OMG - it was the GBBO 2013 final! So who was the winner? Not who you think, says Emma Sleight...
And the winner is... no! Wait, what? There may have had a Tumblr created in her honour (The Many Faces of Ruby Tandoh in case you're wondering) and no other Bake Off contestant has ever been the target of as much adoration or vitriol before.
But in the end, amid the whispers of favouritism, flirting and "female tears" – I'm talking to you Raymond Blanc - it was consistently under-appreciated aesthetic baker Frances who finally proved her substance over style to take the 2013 Great British Bake Off title.
Yes, the show's youngest baker finally got a ruddy grip, baked her charity shop cardigan off and apologised her way into Paul and Mary's hearts. However, there was no hiding from the fact her final showstopper wedding cake resembled a wonky school project that would have had any bridezilla screaming for her money back.
Meanwhile, children's clothing designer Frances Quinn, who has taken a constant battering for her flavours and overwrought styling, won it by producing an ivory cake complete with cascade of edible confetti. Let's face it, anyone who can produce Edith Piaf petit fours, an actual sandwich cake and an edible cigarette Swiss roll is a worthy winner.
The final brought more ups and downs than an under-proved, "under-whercked" Hollywood cob as the all-female bakers swapped specialist talents, shed tears and took time outs in flower-strewn meadows while old faces pitched up for the grand finale picnic. We can only hope Howard had time to hide his custard before Deborah, accidental fridge raider extraordinaire, arrived.
In between a photo montage of doe-eyed, sylph-like Ruby growing up, the introduction of Frances' biggest baking fans - her delightful parents - and a window into Kimberley's baking roots courtesy of her sister, it all went topsy-turvy in the tent.
It was an upside down Bakhtininan Carnivale with pies, pretzels and wedding cakes that saw former pastry star Kimberley make a right porking pig's ear out of her piglet-themed pie. Meanwhile, bread maestro Ruby produce some distinctly average pretzels and haute cake-ture Frances' showstopper come across, dare I say it, a smidge plain.
Not even the Tandoh's perfect pie or Kimberley's "crush the competition" family backing could stop Frances, in spite of her disappointingly Zippy and Bungle-free rainbow pie.
And so here we are, standing at the edge of a Bake Off battlefield covered in bloody plasters, flaccid piping bags and broken mixing bowls as we've kneaded, proved and cried our way through 13 contestants and 10 weeks of dough, sponge and sugar.
We winced as hurricane Toby swept through the Bake Off tent leaving disaster, devastation and a pint of blood in his wake. We were silent witnesses at Custard Gate in the trifle espionage case of 2013. We fell for Howard's peachy buns and have, as one, drooled uncontrollably at the sight of Ruby's sweet buns (careful), Beca's macaroons and Glenn's monstrous tray bake.
It's time to put down that buttercream covered wooden spoon, brush off those biscuit crumbs and lever ourselves off the sofa for another year ahead of the show's move to BBC 1 prime time. All that's left is to wonder if Ruby will release a cookbook called Self-Deprecakes, when we can all Bake with Kimberley and when Frances, who's tasting sweet victory, will be selling secret squirrel cakes. Until next year...
LOVE THIS WRITER? Follow her on Twitter @EmmaCSleight.
Take a look back on the whole Great British Bake Off blog 2013 here.
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