It’s been a vintage year for ‘The Great British Bake Off’ with highs and lows that have left us feeling more emotional than Kim-Joy making her chocolate mousse.
And while not everything has gone to plan for the contestants, we’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about baking from their biggest boo-boos.
Ahead of Tuesday night’s grand final, where Ruby, Rahul and Kim-Joy will battle it out for the trophy, here are the baking lessons we’ll be taking from the tent to our own kitchen tables.
1. Don’t mix up your salt and sugar
Briony was sent home in the semi-final after admitting she “probably” mixed up salt and sugar in the showstopper challenge. Judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith called her French patisserie window creations “raw” and “very salty”, so best not make this mistake at home.
2. You can’t disguise French baking as Danish
Manon’s exit during Danish Week angered fans who thought that it was Rahul (who’d had an absolute shocker) deserved the boot but, overall, judge Paul argued that she didn’t fulfil the brief.
Her rye bread was apparently more like a French loaf, and her showstopper was more pain au chocolat than Danish pastry. At home, this probably wouldn’t matter. But swot up on your geography before inviting Hollywood to tea.
3. Use your densest cake as the bottom tier
Viewers will remember the heart-stopping moment when Ruby’s two-tiered showstopper collapsed into smithereens during Vegan Week. No amount of dowel rods could prevent it from tumbling. Paul advised putting the heavier chocolate cake at the bottom next time, with the lighter sponge on top, to avoid future calamities. But fall or no fall, the judges said Ruby’s cake tasted delicious and she was saved from elimination.
4. You can make meringue with no eggs
There were many examples of how not to succeed at baking during Vegan Week, but Prue’s egg-free pavlova proved with the right practice it can be done. Contestants recreated her recipe in the technical challenge with surprisingly good results. If you fancy trying it at home, you need to replace the egg whites in traditional meringue with aquafaba – the preserve liquid of cooked chickpeas. The end result should be crispy on the outside, marshmallowy on the inside. Yum.
5. Don’t open the oven until your bake is finished
Opening an oven during baking can stop a cake from rising, but this schoolboy error can affect other bakes, too. During Pastry Week, Dan made the faux pas after he forgot to add sugar to his French pastries – some Puits D’Amour – by cracking the oven open to rectify his mistake. However, this led to flat pastries and his departure from the tent. Briony, who also forgot to add her sugar, fared better by keeping the oven closed and dusting her final bake with sugar at the end to make up for it.
6. Always leave enough proving time
Proving is an essential process when baking bread – it’s essentially resting time that allows the yeast to do its thing and enables bread to rise. But every year rushed contestants skip the step to save time. Anthony was among those who committed the crime in Bread Week, leading to some harsh criticism from Paul of his showstopper: “It’s not proved enough, then it’s been over-baked so you end up with stodge.” Meanwhile Rahul’s rye bread made Paul visibly gag during Danish Week, leading him to say: “That’s awful, it’s turning back into a dough in my mouth.” Ouch.