Season 10 of The Great British Baking Show has reached its bittersweet ending. What a tame, sensible ride. In the 24 hours since I have watched the finale, I have become overtaken by so many extreme emotions; the most surprising was discovering that I truly, honestly do not care who won this year. I don’t actually care about any of the bakers on this season at all. There are only two people on earth I care about now, and those two people are David’s parents:
The bakers are told to make the most luscious, indulgent, unforgettable chocolate cake they can possibly imagine, the type of cake that has the ability to stop time and the power to haunt your dreams, and David interprets this as “time for prunes.” I should have had a whole page of brilliant jokes about this in my weekly show notes, but I didn’t, because he is Richard and Judy Atherton’s baby boy and I only want the best things for Richard and Judy Atherton. I may very well spend my GBBS off-season writing extremely British fan fiction about them, with titles like “Richard and Judy Go to the Market for Satsumas.” (Spoiler alert: All the stories end with them saying they’ll be my new mum and dad.)
Alice decides her chocolate cake should also have pears… and ginger… and maple. Why? I know that fruit in cake is popular over in the U.K., but if your directive is “make the chocolate cake to end all chocolate cakes,” bringing fruit into the equation should never cross your mind. Steph, too, is using fruit, though it doesn’t bother me quite as much since chocolate and cherry Black Forest cake is a pretty classic recipe, whereas David and Alice’s recipes are “let’s take this perfectly wonderful chocolate cake and fuck it up.”
But, truly, this round is not about cakes: It’s about the bakers’ parents embarrassing them through sappy video segments. Here are Alice’s parents who, in 15 heartwarming seconds, manage to thoroughly explain the entirety of Alice:
None of that is foreshadowing. Absolutely none of it.
At the beginning of the season, we learned that Steph liked to run, and she was working three part time jobs—including one at a shoe store—to get by. At the end of the season, we learn that Steph is the child of a single mom, who is also her best friend. Her mom reveals that last year Steph was in a really bad place, and here’s where I start tearing up. Who of us as not been a Steph at some point in their lives? Who of us has not had times where no matter how hard you work, how much you try, how much you think that maybe for once in your damn life you might actually be respected, you seriously just can not manage to catch a break?
Steph Steff is just doing the best she can in a world where nothing is meant to go her way.
Results of round one: David’s cake is a bit too boozy; Alice’s cake is a bit too wobbly; Steff’s cake is a wee bit dry. Onward and upward!
Everyone has bad days, and after nine straight weeks of domination, Steff is finally having a bad day. The fact that her bad day happens to fall on the one single day that she absolutely, positively cannot have a bad day makes me realize that I may have a spiritual connection to Steph. Maybe we all do. All hail Steff, Queen Of Can’t Even.
Being on television is stressful. Baking competitively while being on television is even worse. Making the final of a televised competitive baking show with full awareness that it is one of the most popular shows in the world and there are millions of people who are watching and dissecting your every single move is… I mean, I don’t even know what that is. I don’t understand how Alice, David and Steph are functional at all, but when they start falling apart, I understand. Steff makes one stupid mistake—filling her bain-marie with cold water instead of hot—and that’s it for her. Season over. It was like everything else she had done didn’t even matter. But I finally started spelling her name right, so she’s got that going for her.
The final challenge: The bakers must made a “feast” in an edible picnic basket, made from cakes, biscuits, and yeast breads decorated to look like other foods. Everyone is planning on being clever, provided they keep their wits about them. Like Alice’s parents always say, “There’s not such thing as good luck, only good management!” Speaking of good management, Alice’s parents decided to take a quick trip to Ireland right before what they knew was the most important day of their daughter’s life, and then their flight home got delayed by weather, causing their daughter to lose her shit on the one day she desperately needed to keep her shit together. Way to go, Alice’s parents.
Despite the fact that she spends much of the round in tears over the news of her “so great at management” mom and dad, she still manages to do way too much, which will no doubt go criminally underappreciated. She used carrot cake to make a meat pie, chicken drumsticks, and Scotch eggs; and made lemon cream cheese and fresh lemon curd to make the egg center. She made sweet buns that look like apples, and sweet buns that look like ice cream cones. She tried to make macarons that looked like strawberries, and while the flavor was great, they looked a bit wonky. Everything Alice did was positively delicious with barely any quibbling. She is simply remarkable.
The person who manages to keep it together through all three challenges is David, who is a nurse for the VSO. This is probably the most relaxing thing David does all week. Nurses are the toughest people on earth, and they cannot be broken by the task of making a gigantic picnic basket out of sesame seeds. His cheeses are made from lemon cake, his “sausage rolls” are really fig rolls, and his basket of peaches are airbrushed saffron buns. Everything about this is delightful and I love it. I still refuse to forgive him for the prunes.
Props to Steff for thinking that that a good meal for a picnic is one gigantic chicken sandwich. Hers is made out of airbrushed lemon poppyseed cake, and I am still finding it difficult to believe that so many home bakers are using airbrushing machines. In the basket are her famous hot cross buns from Festival Week, made up to look like fairy cakes. The “strawberries” were macarons; cookies that are notoriously finicky to make. Steff’s jittery enough to make tiny, non-Steff-like mistakes, and it does her in. Her macarons aren’t shiny, her fairy cake glaze is uneven, her lemon poppyseed cake could use a touch more lemon. You just need just one bad day to crush everything you’d worked so hard for. There are a lot of good life lessons on this show.
David is crowned the winner, and I get to see his parents toddling around a carnival! Please give Richard and Judy a webseries where they read me bedtime stories and tell me what a special girl I am.
It’s been a swell ride, my friends. Thanks for watching along with me.