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My Thoughts on the Great British Baking Show Finale

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Warning: This article contains juicy spoilers to Series 12 of The Great British Baking Show. Read at your own discretion!

If you haven’t watched the comforting and beautiful baking extravaganza that is The Great British Baking Show on Netflix, you’re definitely missing out. Quite possibly one of the most gentle and heart-warming TV competition shows to exist, this culinary marvel has just ended its 12th season, and I am here to tell just exactly what went down in the final episode that aired on November 23rd.

In case you don’t know, The Great British Baking Show is a British TV baking competition where, every season, 12 self-taught home bakers come together in a cute, little white tent in the yard of possibly the most posh manor ever and compete in a series of challenges. Every episode, three challenges take place: a Signature, a mystery Technical, and a Showstopper; at the end of the episode, one contestant goes home and one Star Baker is crowned. For the past couple seasons, the show has been hosted by Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas, and features judges Paul Hollywood (of the famed “Hollywood handshake”) and Prue Leith. 

To set the scene on the final episode of this season, our three finalists left are Crystelle, Chigs, and Giuseppe, after the shocking elimination of Jürgen last week. The episode begins a bit more somber than most Baking Show finales, but maybe that’s just because COVID is preventing them from hosting their annual finale carnival. Nonetheless, the introduction is tense as always, teasing you with the seemingly disastrous bakes that are to come. They do a good job of reminding you that each baker in the finale today is amazingly talented, which makes the competition just that much juicier.

Jumping into the Signature challenge, the bakers are asked to make a Carrot Cake. While it seems like a slightly strange choice considering last week the assignment was delicate French patisserie, I am a personally a big fan of carrot cake, so I enjoyed this part of the episode immensely. For some reason, Giuseppe has decided to make everything ten times harder for himself, and makes one giant carrot cake to later slice into three layers, seemingly ignoring the fact that it takes a whopping hour to actually cook. Of course, with this episode being the final, they have thrown in some sentimental video messages from the contestants’ families, maybe because they love to make the audience tear up. By the end of the challenge, it’s not a surprise that Giuseppe’s cake is hot, crumbly, and makes all of the cream cheese frosting melt like butter. But then again, Crystelle’s cake was lumpy-looking and Chigs’ cake is rubbery, so I’m thinking the playing field is pretty level at this point.

Next up is the Technical challenge, which is probably the most difficult of all because the challenge is a ~mystery~. In this challenge, the bakers are asked to make “Belgian buns,” which, to me, just look like fancy, lemon-y cinnamon rolls with raisins in them. As is Baking Show tradition, the bakers are given literally the most unhelpful recipe ever to make this dessert that they’ve never heard of, which I think is so funny (the directions are literally: 1. make the buns, 2. frost them). Another part I found hilarious: Prue goes “of course they know how to make lemon curd,” and then Giuseppe promptly does not know how to make lemon curd. We never do find out if what he put in his buns was really a lemon curd, but I’m guessing it must’ve been close enough. Speaking of Giuseppe, the saddest part of this challenge is probably that he really over-bakes his buns (they’re burnt), even though he sat there and watched them bake the whole time — this earns him last place. On a happier note, Crystelle finally wins a technical challenge! You go girl. Chigs gets second place, just because his buns are a little funnily shaped. At this point, I’m thinking that Crystelle seems to be in the lead, but anything is possible in the span of one Showstopper challenge…

At last, we come to the final challenge of the final episode of Baking Show 2021 — the Showstopper. In this challenge, our three finalists are making a “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Display” that compiles four baking techniques they’ve learned. What that means, I’m not exactly sure, but I’m sure it’s going to be whimsical and tasty. With pieces of bread, muffins, cakes, and panna cotta inspired by Alice in Wonderland, all of the finalists are planning to make nature-y displays featuring magical woodland plants and creatures. In the midst of baking wonderland, tragedy suddenly strikes. Giuseppe’s oven hasn’t preheated because the door was open, and he’s now losing precious time. I have to admit, this made me more stressed than I needed to be, but I’ve found that this show loves to do that to you. To no one’s surprise, he finishes everything on time anyway, and I am so relieved. Then, Chigs makes a cute tribute to Jürgen, saying that he was the one who taught Chigs how to make pastry cones, and my heart is a little warmer. The one part of the final that really did shock me was Crystelle’s baking disaster. The focaccia that’s supposed to be her centerpiece is, according to Paul Hollywood “actually raw.” In my opinion, something went wrong with the massive amount of oil that she was bathing her focaccia in, but I’m not really sure. It’s pretty sad, especially because I think they don’t even try to eat it (Paul literally asks if it’s been in the oven – yikes). 

At this point, I’m crazy confused, and I have no idea who is in the lead anymore. I thought it was Crystelle, but she made bread that wasn’t really bread, but rather sad, oily, dough. Maybe it’s Giuseppe, but he hasn’t had the hottest day either, with his burnt buns and cold oven. Then again, there’s always Chigs, whose cute little bakes are tasty and fun, but never amazing or flawless. 

As it turns out, burnt buns aren’t so bad when you’ve made a delicious panna cotta, and the winner of The Great British Baking Show in 2021 is… Giuseppe! They present him with a fancy engraved cake stand, and everyone starts gushing about how much he deserves it (and I’m about to start too, to be honest). Everyone is cheering and Chigs and Crystelle pounce on Giuseppe for a hug, and I have to admit I’m starting to tear up a little. The finale episode of the 12th season ends in my favorite way: with a compilation of all of the fun things the contestants have done together since they got back home, including a reunion barbecue and a cross-Britain road trip. While Giuseppe couldn’t make it to the reunion, they reveal that he has now moved to Italy and is planning to write a cookbook with his dad, which is just so cute. 

Am I surprised by who won the 12th season of The Great British Baking Show? No, not at all. I literally called it in the first episode when I saw Giuseppe’s first bake. However, I was a little surprised by the results considering everything that went wrong in the final episode. Regardless, there’s no doubt in my mind that Giuseppe definitely deserves the win, and considering how ecstatic Crystelle is for him, I’m sure she agrees. Even though I think that Crystelle’s only real downfall was her floppy focaccia and she really is a stellar baker, I think that Giuseppe showcased his skills as a wholistic baker much more clearly, and deserves the recognition. Plus, it’s just so cute to see how proud his baking legend dad is of him. Of course, we can’t forget Chigs, who surprised us all by getting this far. He has only been baking for like a year, so being a finalist on the Baking Show is definitely an accomplishment in itself; he still has lots of time to improve. 

Even after another whole season of The Great British Baking Show and nearly a whole year of waiting, I still love this series. It’s fun, comforting, and at times stressful, but in the end you know that everything is going to turn out happy. Personally, I’m already eagerly waiting for next year’s season to be filmed, and I’m planning to watch it as the episodes release once a week this time next year. I hope that this lengthy review of my thoughts and opinions was a fun comparison to your own or inspired you to watch the show if you haven’t already, and if you for some reason need a little more persuading, you can read my article on why you should watch The Great British Baking Show here.

Shima is a sophomore at UW currently residing in Mukilteo, WA. She intends to major in Microbiology and hopes to someday become a physician. She enjoys baking bread, watching Teen Wolf, and practicing Taekwondo in her free time.
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