Monday 25 September 2017

Chetna crowned last ever winner of Bake Off on BBC

Paul Hollywood, Sue Perkins, Mary Berry and Mel Giedroyc (BBC/PA)
Paul Hollywood, Sue Perkins, Mary Berry and Mel Giedroyc (BBC/PA)

The Great British Bake Off's renowned "flavour queen" Chetna Makan has been crowned the last ever winner of the show before it moves channels.

Returning to the tent after storming through to the semi-finals in series five, judge Paul Hollywood said her showstopper masterpiece of miniature festive desserts "smashed it out the park".

Marking the last time that the show will be broadcast by the BBC with judge Mary Berry and presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, the Boxing Day episode was packed with Bake Off firsts, cheeky vegetable puns and a cheating scandal.

It began with Berry and Hollywood donning matching blue Christmas jumpers to welcome back former contestants Makan, Howard Middleton, James Morton and Janet Basu.

Middleton's famous exit in week six of the 2013 series sparked social media outrage after fellow contestant Deborah "robbed" him of success by accidentally stealing his prized custard.

"It all comes flooding back, the anxiety," he said. "It is nerve-racking, but it's Christmas, so maybe the judges will be kinder?"

Makan packed a punch in the signature challenge with her colourful canapes, even making herself jump with the intensity of spices she loaded into them .

But it was Morton's preparation for his mackerel mille-feuilles and traditional red onion and goat's cheese swirls that grabbed the judges' attention, and Perkins could not resist the temptation to make a cheeky joke about the shape of his home-grown root veg.

In a Bake Off first, Morton tucked into his own offering during the judging, but Hollywood described the quality of his puff pastry as "not up to scratch".

But controversy struck when the contestants took on their technical challenge, recreating Hollywood's recipe for a spiced Scandinavian bread that translates as "cinnamon length".

The complicated recipe instructed them to cut out 18 slices, but when Morton spotted Makan's clever technique, he made the quick decision to copy.

"Ah, that's so annoying. I think Chetna has got it right. I can fix this."

In what she described as another "Bake Off first" when she caught him, Makan said: "James, you're cheating", and joked that she would "take it outside".

Meanwhile, Basu's expanding loaf almost broke free from the confines of the oven and Giedroyc said Middleton's cooked loaf was as "beautiful as Julia Roberts's hair".

After a tense round, Morton was pronounced winner of the challenge, followed by Middleton in second place, Makan third and, finally, Basu.

He graciously thanked the other contestants for showing him the way to a better bake, but Makan commented: "If he hadn't copied us, he wouldn't have come first, but what can you do?"

For the final showstopper round, the bakers took on the challenge of making a Christmas centrepiece out of 36 individual "miniatures" - a task Giedroyc described as "the most ambitious in Bake Off history".

Makan sealed her victory with her brave offering of intricate baked Alaskas, yule logs and cheesecakes, which both judges described as "beautiful".

Meanwhile, Berry said Morton's ensemble of apple and custard doughnuts, orange chocolate macaroons and boozy Christmas cakes arranged on a gingerbread frame looked more "Halloweeny than Christmas".

"It was surprising, but in a bad way," Hollywood later commented.

Middleton's "camp as Christmas" trio saw him attempt to rewrite history by remaking his famous custard, alongside more mini cheesecakes and marzipan stollen.

"I never thought I would be back in the tent making more custard," he said. "I'll have to make sure no-one steals it. No, she didn't steal it ... it was an accident."

However, he ran out of time to fully finish his presentation, despite Giedroyc's attempt to soothe him by flashing her "Bake Off bingo wings".

"They are really a bit disappointing," said Berry, adding that his cheesecake was "bland".

Press Association

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