9pm “I did it. I’m good. I’m good enough,” Candice says after winning the Bake Off, tears in her eyes. “Honestly, I don’t know what to say. Oh my god, what an opportunity. Amazing. I don’t know what else to say.”
You don’t need to say anything Candice. So well deserved.
8.54pm Not quite blazing sunshine, but the Great British summer drizzle is kind of appropriate…
8.53pm “This was an absolute humdinger,” says Mary, as the bakers share their products with the party. Bet the camera crew are jealous this week…
8.52pm “That’s a lovely cake,” says Paul Hollywood after a humungous pause.
That’s about as heavily whisked as the tension gets in Bake Off, which you feel can only mean one thing: Candice has surely won?
Mary Berry likes the cake too. All boxes ticked. Has she done it?
8.51pm And Candice?
“It looks an exciting hamper,” says Mary, and the little sausage roll piggies are immediately a cut above the others.
The quiche is crispy, full of filling. Another good bake.
Scone: good colour, but again, they’re struggling with the flavours.
Strawberry and rhubarb tart. An excellent custard, and the pastry is still crisp. Finally, the chocolate cake…
8.48pm Andrew’s next.
It is beautifully displayed,” says Mary. The sausage roll, again, is raw however. Mary doesn’t even eat part of it. Oh dear.
The scone’s colour is great, but there’s no flavour.
The quiche is neat, crispy, with thin pastry and delicious flavour. “However,” says Paul, it’s slightly overworked. Such fine margins…
The tarts? Soggy bottom alert, in the final.
The chocolate cake is a great cake (well, Paul could hardly say something mean about his gran’s recipe could he?).
8.46pm Jane’s sausage roll has raw pastry. The scone is slightly underwhelming too with a lack of butternut squash. The little tarts are beautiful though.
And the cake… “It isn’t what you’ve planned, but you didn’t panic. You’ve done it.” Mary is forgiving in the final.
Paul loves the cake too. Except… “Shame about the collar”.
8.44pm “I have given everything,” says Candice. “I think I could cry,” says Jane. “it’s just the emotion of finishing and not doing it again. I think that’s really sad. I’ve loved every minute.” Same, Jane. Same.
8.43pm Jane’s second chocolate collar disaster of the series. “If in doubt throw some glitter at it,” she says. OK for the start, but surely not for the final? She’s been completely everywhere in the showstopper, but it’s so hard to tell if the relative calmness of the other two is more blind panic than smart planning.
8.39pm And all the bakers are back for a free dinner! Most of them dodge the question for who they want to win, but not Val. “Candice!” she says straight off. Love Val.
Selasi wants Andrew to win. Rav ums and ahhs before plumping for Jane. All the boxes ticked.
8.35pm “Mum hasn’t slept much for the last 12 weeks,” says Jane’s daughter. “This is the first thing she’s done truly for herself,” adds her son. Again, just lovely.
8.33pm Andrew has a spreadsheet to help him keep on top of it all. And, best fact from his little family factfile, he missed his own graduation because he was practising for the Bake Off. Commitment.
8.32pm This is a lovely Bake Off final bonus. For weeks it avoids resorting to background filler and X Factor-style sob stories. It’s only now, once we’ve fallen in love with them for who they are, that they start to introduce the tiniest hint of what their lives are like outside the tent.
There’s a picture of Candice, four years old, when she first learns to bake from her Nan. Then her Dad comes in.
“Regardless of whether she wins or loses, she’ll always be a winner in my eyes. She’s my daughter.” Good old Dad.
8.29pm Wow, OK I think I got all of those down. One chocolate celebration cake (a favourite of Her Maj apparently), 12 puff pastry sausage rolls, 12 mini quiches, 12 savoury scones, 12 fruit and custard tarts. 49 things altogether!
8.28pm “It’s one of the most exciting showstoppers we’ve ever had,” Mary says. OK, hit us with it…
8.27pm The stress paid off, and Andrew has come top of the technical. Straight back into contention, and it means all is well in the Bake Off tent: the showstopper is the decider.
8.23pm “I need this. I REALLY need this,” says Andrew. This is basically the first time we see Bake Off being properly competitive. Andrew’s more stressed than the others now, but “Mr Precision” is surely made for this kind of technical?
8.20pm “Mary’s Victoria Sandwich” the page begins. “PLEASE DO NOT CONFER WITH THE OTHER BAKERS,” it continues in large angry red letters.
Instructions? 1. Make a Victoria Sandwich using two 20cm tins, filled with raspberry jam and buttercream, then dust with caster sugar.”
“No recipe, no method, just two tins and the ingredients.” Mary says happily. Cruel, Bezza, cruel.
8.18pm Here we are, the last ever technical challenge. “This bake will be very familiar,” teases Mary. And the bake? A Victoria Sandwich, about as classic a recipe you could hope to make. Except, this time, there is NO RECIPE.
8.17pm “He’s giving out handshakes willy-nilly!” says Candice. “It was a bit of a kick in the teeth to get the double handshake,” Andrew adds ruefully.
8.17pm Paul Hollywood was saying absolutely nothing in that segment, just taking mouthful after mouthful of Jane’s meringue. At the end, still spitting out shards of pudding, he scoffs, “Mpffank-you,” and shakes Jane by the hand. A second handshake in as many minutes, and Andrew’s fortunes have suddenly taken a turn.
8.16pm “There’s so many textures in there, and the flavours are quite sharp,” Hollywood says to Candice. Then, yes? Yes? He shakes her by the hand. The Hollywood Handshake in a final – what a start.
8.14pm Task over, and all three look up to admire each other’s work. It’s only at this point that they realise how bloody amazing these things look. Lovely.
8.13pm Andrew moves his crown onto his weird purple mannikin, and everyone is wincing. Mel’s face scrunches in fear; at home, we’re doing exactly the same expression.
8.12pm See what we mean?
8.10pm Suddenly, everyone is copying Val’s technique of listening to their bakes. Is it the madness of the final, or did she know something we didn’t all along?
8.07pm Candice prepares a special fourth layer, inspired by Queen Victoria’s tiny crown. What, this one?
8.05pm I love how confident the three bakers have become in the past 10 weeks. Look, Andrew is now talking direct to the camera like a pro!
8.03pm The final has been given the “royal” treatment for the Queen’s 90th birthday, and so the challenge is a filled meringue crown. Family-sized, three layers at least, dazzling decoration.
Doesn’t the tent look empty?
8.02pm Candice has been Star Baker three times, compared to “Mr Precision” Andrew’s two accolades. He’s coming to the front at the right time, isn’t he?
“Now that we’re here, I’m going to damn well try,” he says. Yep, that’s about as competitive as it gets in the Bake Off tent.
8pm No puns this week. Just sombre intro, teasing snare drum backing music and a look back at how the three made it to the final.
7.59pm Can’t believe we’ve reached the finale already. I don’t think this series has quite hit the heights of last year, but then again last year was all about Nadiya and the final. What will tonight bring?
7.54pm Well said, Richard. Let’s go out with a bang, shall we?