For the past nine weeks, the people of Britain have spent their Wednesday nights perched on the edge of their seats, enticed by baked goods and bad puns. We have drooled over lion-shaped bread, winced at the sight of unset crème brûlées and become experts on how to spot a soggy bottom. But tomorrow, it all comes to an end.
So who deserves to win? Here’s a quick summary of the three finalists –
Overall performance: Despite performing fantastically from the very start, Tamal seemed to get overlooked in the first few weeks. He has been mentioned by Mary and Paul as one of the top bakers more times than anyone else (even Ian), and is also the only one to have never been singled out as one of the lowest performing bakers. On paper, he has been the most consistent out of everyone.
Best bake: Pretty much all of Tamal’s bakes looked flawless to me, but it has to be his Charlotte Russe that ‘takes the cake’, so to speak. This creation secured Tamal not only the title of star baker, but also a handshake from Paul! Nice.
Worst bake: Tamal doesn’t really have any ‘bad’ bakes in my opinion, as they all turned out edible and presentable. However, along with pretty much everyone else, Tamal fell down on the vol-au-vents challenge. Even so, I’d still have happily eaten a whole tray of them.
Words of wisdom: “I think about that sandwich quite a lot…”
Chances of success: If this were a voting show, I’d have Tamal pegged to win, as he seems to have acquired a very loyal following on social media (and rightly so – he’s adorable). However, seeing as Mary and Paul pretty much ignored his outstanding work until his first star baker title in week 7, I’m not too hopeful.
Overall performance: Ian got off to a fantastic start in the competition, winning the star baker title three times in the first four weeks. The judges always seem pretty impressed by his elaborate and original work; however, he has slipped. He has been singled out to potentially leave the tent twice – more than either Tamal or Nadiya have.
Best bake: As much as I don’t warm to Ian as much as the other two, I have to admit that his bakes are always something to marvel at. For me, though, the best bake would have to be his flower pot bread. Out of all his inventions, this seemed the most quirky.
Worst bake: None of Ian’s showstoppers stand out in my memory as being particularly bad, but I’m going to say that his “religieuse à l’ancienne” (fancy éclair tower), “nun with hidden passions”, was the worst because the name makes me shudder just a little bit.
Words of wisdom: “And thus began my passion for picking up animals that had been, um, bumped on the road.”
Chances of success: Based on last week’s performance, I’d say Ian looks a lot weaker than he did at the beginning of the competition. BUT, we all know that he’s capable of coming up with something whacky and wonderful, so he might just pull it off at the last minute.
Overall performance: Nadiya has won the star baker title as many times as Ian has, and has been one of the judge’s favourites on three other occasions. Aside from one or two tiny blips, Nadiya has proven herself to be one of the top performers throughout the entire competition. She frequently gets praise from Paul and Mary, and has been a frontrunner from the very beginning.
Best bake: Every week, Nadiya presents something exciting and original, so it’s difficult to single out the best one! Out of everything, though, I think the fizzy pop cheesecakes were the most innovative of Nadiya’s creations, and probably the one bake from the entire season that I’d most like to try.
Worst bake: Like Tamal, Nadiya also failed at vol-au-vents, and had to serve her fillings separate to the pastry. Or, she just created a new way of eating them. You decide.
Words of wisdom: “I’m so excited I could streak down this river!”
Chances of success: Nadiya has the perfect balance of talent, originality and fun. The judges like her, the audience loves her, and Mel and Sue are always lingering round her table for scraps – if she doesn’t win, I’ll be just the tiniest bit upset.
So, it might be a little obvious who my favourite is. But, regardless of who wins, I think we can all say that we’ve enjoyed the ride. I mean, where would we be today without Tamal’s unassuming charm, Ian’s ridiculously middle class comments, or Nadiya’s amazing facial expressions? All three finalists are wonderfully talented people, and each of them has done enough to deserve the title. So good luck to them, I guess.