Everybody loves The Great British Bake Off or so it seems as year on year viewing figures grow in number. Still showing on BBC2 at the moment, although rumours abound of its promotion to BBC One next year, the Bake Off makes compulsive viewing especially once we have week one under our belts and have met all the competitors. Mel and Sue are back once again with their superbly witty presenting style that gives us plenty of laughs plus puts the contestants at ease. So, how did the 2013 series fair? Pretty good we think! Let's take a look at how the 2013 competition went and who was subsequently victorious.
Once again we have the ever popular Mary Berry along with "the silver bear" himself Paul Hollywood judging who has baked the best cakes, biscuits, bread, French pastries and much more as week after week the challenges get more difficult. Mary makes a superb judge as she has a wealth of experience under her belt, while Paul is a master baker who tells it how it is therefore is the Simon Cowell of the judging panel. Standards this year were very high giving Paul and Mary a hard job to do as they tried to agree on who should go and who should stay every week or who should be the week's star baker. Agree they do and in their inimitable style they manage to sift out the best from the worst.
The 2013 Contestants
The Great British Bake Off lasts for ten weeks with a contestant leaving every week until we find the winner in week ten. As viewers we watch as competitors stir, whisk and watch their ovens on bended knee as their masterpieces come together in the Bake Off tent. The first contestant to leave was Toby Waterworth a thirty year old web programmer followed in week two by Lucy Bellamy a thirty eight year old horticulturist. Week three we said goodbye to Mark Onley a thirty seven year old carpenter along with Deborah Manger a fifty one year old dentist.
Ali Imdad a twenty five year old charity worker left next followed by Robert Smart a fifty four year old space satellite designer in week five. Howard Middleton a fifty one year old council worker went next then Glen Cosby a thirty seven year old English teacher followed in week seven. Christine Wallace a sixty six year old company director left in week eight with Beca Lynn Pirkis a choir singer being the last baker to leave before the final week.
The Three Finalists
There were three ladies in the final of the 2013 competition namely Ruby Tandoh, Kimberley Wilson and Frances Quinn, with all three ladies being well deserved of a finalist place. It had been a long hard fought competition that included many dramas including "custardgate" where one contestant used another contestant's custard in their recipe instead of their own. This was of course deemed a mistake with the guilty baker apologising profusely.
Ruby was one of the youngest competitors this year and was also a favourite to win the competition from early on. Modest Ruby always thought she was going to be the one to go every week and worried constantly that she wasn't up to the standard of the others even though she was judged star baker three times during the competition. Maybe it was her age, she is twenty, plus the fact that she was also studying for university exams at the same time as competing making her really pushed for time. The bookies favourite was anxious that in the final her nerves would get the better of her, while many of the newspapers seemed more interested in her looks than her baking ability.
Kimberley did indeed win the technical challenge in the final giving her the added boost of feeling maybe she was in with a chance of winning the competition. Kimberley a thirty year old psychologist had been star baker twice throughout the competition and was a competent baker. Kimberley did complain after the final that she was edited in an unsympathetic way by producers of the show as she received a great deal of online abuse accusing her of arrogance when the show was over.
Frances Quinn (The Winner)
Frances was the finalist least likely to win in the public's eye as she had only achieved star baker once plus Paul and Mary had criticised her constantly of being more concerned with the artistic look of her bakes rather than the taste. The thirty one year old children's clothes designer obviously had creative style but would her bakes be good enough in the taste stakes to win? Well the simple answer is yes much to everyone's surprise Frances did win the 2013 series! Ruby who had triumphed in the first challenge with her savoury picnic pie and Kimberley who won the technical challenge round with her pretzels were pipped at the post by Frances with her Midsummer Night's Dream themed wedding cake.
The Final Challenges
The Signature Bake
The first of the challenges the signature bake of this final had to be a Savoury Picnic Pie with a layered filling and crust that was crisp but sturdy. Frances made a rainbow picnic pie, Kimberley made a chicken and pig pie, while Ruby who won the round baked an amazing picnic basket pie that Paul and Mary loved. Kimberly was left reeling when Paul described the filling of her pie of having a consistency similar to that of glue!
The Technical Challenge
For the technical challenge the ladies were asked to make pretzels, not something we make every week of the year here in the UK. We wouldn't say that any of the finalists excelled in this category as their pretzels looked more like bagels than pretzels but Kimberley won this round which cheered her up somewhat after her poor showing in the first bake.
The show stopper this week had to be no less than spectacular with the judges asking for a three tier wedding cake. Ruby baked a Raspberry Lemon and Passion Fruit Wedding Cake, Kimberly baked a Languages of Love Wedding Cake, while it was Frances's Midsummer Night's Dream Wedding Cake that swung the odds in her favour with the judges as they stated not only did the cake look spectacular but it tasted great too.
The Final Analysis
Frances was a worthy if not unexpected winner and who are we to argue with the experts? She had baked some wonderfully artistic bakes throughout the competition showing great skill and at last her bakes tasted as good as they looked. Her show stopper wedding cake was for us a let-down but then the other two cakes weren't that great either. After weeks of exceptional baking we think the tension and nerves in the tent really got to the finalists. The challenges set by the judges too were not only difficult but also unusual. That said once the baking and judging was over it was a relief to go outside the tent to waiting family friends and former contestants to hear the result of the competition. Frances was suitably shocked to win, while the other two congratulated her with big smiles and hugs all round. So the Bake Off was over for another year and like many viewers we can't wait for the 2014 Bake Off to begin!