The Great British Baking Show: Welcome to the Final

Noel, Prue, Paul and Matt with The Bakers.
Noel, Prue, Paul and Matt with The Bakers. /

Going into the Final of the 2021 edition of The Great British Baking Show, it was about as even as anyone had ever seen. The three remaining home bakers, Giuseppe, Crystelle and Chigs, all had gotten Hollywood Handshakes and won Star Baker numerous time. It was literally anyone’s title to win.

Despite that, Giuseppe went into the final weekend the odds on favorite. His level of experience and precision bakes had long made him the frontrunner. With Jurgen gone, if he could just have a solid, drama-free weekend there was almost no way he wouldn’t be crowned the winner.

For the Signature Challenge the bakers had to make a carrot cake. Sounds simple enough, right? It gave the bakers room to make the challenge their own but try to get too fancy and it could cost you.

Surprising no one, Giuseppe sticks to what has works for him all season and makes a carrot cake using Italian inspired flavors, including figs and walnuts. Unfortunately he didn’t leave himself enough time to let his cake cool down and it looks like a melting mess. Crystelle adds pistachio and cardamom to hers but the entire cake is leaning to one side. Chigs keeps his cake on the simple side and got winning remarks from the judges even if it was considered too dense.

Who was the winner of the 2021 season of The Great British Baking Show?

It wasn’t exactly the start any of the bakers was hoping for with mixed comments across the board. And things didn’t get any better when the Technical Challenge was announced. The bakers had to make a dozen Belgian Buns. Which sounds fine until you realize none of the bakers have any clue what a Belgium Bun is supposed to look like.

Much like the Signature, no one baker really shined. The Buns Chigs made were a disaster from top to bottom and Giuseppe overbaked his by a wide margin, a shocking mistake for a seasoned baker like him. In the end Crystelle walked away the winner even though they weren’t perfect.

With no one baker taking a lead, it would all come down to the Showstopper Challenge. The bakers had to create a Mad Hatter Tea Party Display that included at least four different baking disciplines that include both sweet and savory bakes.

It was now that all hell broke loose, with the bakers running all over The Tent, trying to finish their displays in time. From Giuseppe’s oven not being on, to frayed nerves and head-scratching decisions by the finalists, it makes for a Showstopper where anyone could come away with the win.

Giuseppe’s display hits all the right notes with the judges. His toadstool made of chocolate hazelnut bread in a big success and the judges can’t stop eating his panna cotta. However, they were less impressed with his choux-made caterpillar. Chigs also gets rave reviews with all four of his bakes, including brioche mushrooms and biscuits made to look like playing cards.

If there was a moment in the Final that would break any fan’s heart it was Crystelle. While her display gets plenty of compliments her focaccia bread that is the centerpiece of the display is raw. And not “kind of” raw or “a bit” raw but inedible raw. It essentially eliminates her from any possibility of winning and you can see that she knows it from the look on her face.

With the decision clearly between Giuseppe and Chigs for the title, the crew of the series gets together to hear the announcement of the winner who turns out to be Giuseppe. It is a well deserved victory for a baker who from Week 1 showed confidence and skill that any home baker would be envious of.

Was it the best Final in the history of The Great British Baking Show? Far from it. Giuseppe winning seemed like a forgone conclusion for most of the episode and became an almost certainty after Crystelle’s focaccia mishap. Plus the level of baking took a dip compared to the incredible Semifinal last week.

However, at the end of the day it was a fun and entertaining season of the long running series. Much better then last year but not quite as good as the 2019 season. Now the long wait begins for the 2022 season and the arrival of 12 brand new home bakers to try for the title.

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