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    9 “Great British Bake Off” Moments From The Final That Were Stressful, And 19 That Were So Pure

    "Don't tell me I've got to kiss that spatula, because I'm not doing it!"

    It's here: We've arrived at the final stressful/delightful recap of this season of The Great British Bake Off!

    the title card of the show
    Love Productions

    You can read last week's recap here

    This week, finalists Chigs, Crystelle, and Giuseppe battled for victory, for glory, and most importantly, for an engraved decorative plate. For the last time in 2021, here are 19 utterly delightful moments from the episode and nine unspeakably stressful ones.

    Warning: Spoilers (and potential emotional turmoil) ahead. 

    1. DELIGHTFUL: The show forgoing the opening skit in favor of a montage of the season, led by this truly cinematic image of the tent awaiting the finalists in the morning mist. I'm assuming they only did this because they ran out of their costume budget or Paul had a bad reaction to that green Hulk paint from a few episodes back.

    the tent in early morning
    Love Productions

    2. DELIGHTFUL: Learning, via Noel's narration, that this is the first final ever where all three bakers have earned two Hollywood Handshakes and been Star Baker twice.

    All three bakers getting Hollywood handshakes
    Love Productions

    That being said, it feels a lil' weird that Paul's handshakes have become so significant that they're treated as a mini version of winning Star Baker. And if that's the way things are going to be, Prue needs some equivalent form of praise. A hat tip? Permission to wear one of her funky necklaces for 10 minutes? A crisp 10-pound note? 

    Signature Challenge: Carrot Cake

    Giuseppe's carrot cake
    Love Productions

    3. DELIGHTFUL: Paul saying this.

    Paul says, we want carrot to be the hero
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    4. DELIGHTFUL: These jaunty "it's the final!" banners.

    Colorful banners outside the tent
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    5. STRESSFUL: Prue having this frankly terrifying reaction when Chigs tells her just how much he's making carrot the hero of his cake.

    Chigs tells Prue there's 900 grams of carrot in the batter, and she says gosh, that's a lot
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    6. DELIGHTFUL: Chigs' family wishing him luck before the final via an iPad. They can't do it in person, since the show is still operating in a pandemic "bubble," and none of the contestants have seen their families for two months.

    Chigs speaking to his family
    Love Productions

    During this segment, Chigs shares how the loss of his father at an early age shaped his personal philosophy of trying new things and trying them now.

    Chigs says, I lost my father when I was really young, I think I was 12 years old. He died really young, so I just take every opportunity in my life that I can now. I'm not gonna wait for something to happen. If I want to do something, I'm gonna do it.
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    7. DELIGHTFUL: Giuseppe receiving a good-luck message from his father, who inspired him to become a baker through the elaborate desserts he would prepare for Sunday family lunches during Giuseppe's childhood.

    Giuseppe's father wishes him luck and sends him a big hug
    Love Productions

    Giuseppe's father even tells his son that he's a better baker than he ever was, which Giuseppe immediately denies, pointing out that his father's bakes in his heyday were absolutely Showstopper-worthy.

    Giuseppe's father as a young man, with a cake boat
    Love Productions

    8. DELIGHTFUL: Crystelle receiving a good-luck message from her family, who pushed her to apply to be on the show, even though Crystelle didn't think there was any chance she'd make it.

    Crystelle's family shouts we love you Crystelle
    Love Productions

    Because of travel restrictions, I've been separated from an immediate family member since the beginning of the pandemic, so these family segments...they got me. They got me good. 

    9. STRESSFUL: Giuseppe running out of time and being forced to cut a still-steaming cake, which causes a near-violent amount of crumbling.

    Giuseppe says, this is gonna be carnage, before cutting the cake
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    10. DELIGHTFUL: Giuseppe looking at his cake and seeing his own mortality staring back at him.

    Giuseppe says, mine looks like my face over the years, it's melting down
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    11. STRESSFUL (BUT IN A NARRATIVELY EXCITING WAY): All the bakers are about equally matched following the Signature. Crystelle made a cake that the judges thought tasted great but looked mediocre...

    Crystelle's carrot cake, which is lopsided
    Love Productions

    ...and Chigs made one that delivered on appearances but was texturally wrong due to an overabundance of carrot in the batter...

    Chigs' carrot cake
    Love Productions

    ...and the texture of Giuseppe's cake was off too, since it was so warm when he decorated it that it absorbed the icing and became too soft, though again, the judges liked the look of it. At this point, it's anyone's game. Or, as Chigs put it, "Nobody smashed it. ... So, it's not a tragedy. It's not finished."

    Giuseppe's carrot cake
    Love Productions

    Technical Challenge: Belgian Buns

    the buns with icing and dried fruit
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    12. STRESSFUL: The fact that the bakers are only given two, count 'em, two instructions, and one of them is "make Belgian buns." What the hell is a Belgian bun? Belgium, explain yourself.

    The instructions
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    13. STRESSFUL: Giuseppe revealing at this key moment that he's been living a blissfully curd-less existence thus far.

    Giuseppe says he's never made curd, and that's gonna be a wild guess
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    14. DELIGHTFUL: Giuseppe giving his oven the space it needs to work.

    Giuseppe standing very far away from his oven
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    15. STRESSFUL: Alas, that distance results in some overdone buns.

    Giuseppe icing a burnt bun
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    16. DELIGHTFUL: How the hell did Crystelle pull this off? What sort of baking magic allowed her to take two instructions and turn them into this? The judges are restrained in their praise, but c'mon, these are Belgian buns if I've ever seen them! (I have never seen Belgian buns. Are they a thing? They look like cinnamon rolls that have lost their lust for life.)

    Crystelle's Belgian buns
    Love Productions

    17. STRESSFUL: Giuseppe placing last for his burnt buns. Even worse, the judges think they are otherwise perfect, just "massively over-baked."

    Giuseppe's burnt buns
    Love Productions

    18. DELIGHTFUL: Crystelle placing first in the Technical for the first time all season! Honestly, the fact that she figured this one out makes me think that she should be the next queen. Is that how monarchies work?

    Crystelle celebrates being named first
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    Showstopper Challenge: A Mad Hatter's Tea Party Display, Showcasing Both Sweet and Savory Flavors, and At Least Four Different Baking Disciplines

    the sketch of Chigs' showstopper
    Love Productions

    19. STRESSFUL: When all of Matt and Noel's narration set up the fact that timing your bakes was crucial to this challenge, and then Giuseppe discovered a cold oven when he went to bake his first batch of muffins. (He didn't forget to turn it on, he just didn't close the door properly, so it stayed cold.)

    Giuseppe finding a cold oven
    Love Productions

    Such was his stress, he started talking to himself in Italian.

    Giuseppe asks himself, how do I reach 350?
    Love Productions

    20. DELIGHTFUL: Chigs shouting out the Jürgen-ator, aka Jürgy Pops, for teaching him a new baking technique.

    Chigs tells Matt that, "This is all thanks to Jürgen, cause Jürgen taught me how to do all this."
    Love Production

    21. DELIGHTFUL: Watching all the bakers, in the midst of one of the most stressful moments of their lives, react to a sketch comic trying to get them to kiss a spatula on national television.

    Chigs and Crystelle refuse, and Giuseppe kisses the spatula
    Love Productions

    22. DELIGHTFUL: Something about hearing the crew applaud the contestants after they're done with the final Showstopper and seeing the contestants themselves embrace in a big group hug always reminds me of why this show became a hit in the first place.

    The bakers embracing
    Love Productions

    23. DELIGHTFUL: And now, my friends, it's time for some old-fashioned Showstopper appreciation. First up is Giuseppe.

    Giuseppe's showstopper
    Love Productions

    The judges think his choux buns are too small and soft, but they otherwise rave about Giuseppe's Showstopper and single out his chocolate and hazelnut bread (that's the top of the mushroom) and the panna cotta (in those "Drink Me" bottles) as particularly delicious.

    the details of Giuseppe's showstopper
    Love Productions

    Also, this transition from pure anxiety to unadulterated joy that Giuseppe experienced while watching Paul and Prue dig into the panna cotta is this show in a nutshell.

    Giuseppe stressed and then happy
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    24. DELIGHTFUL: Next up, we've got Chigs — who, despite the fact that he's been baking for about 20 minutes, delivered this masterpiece.

    Chigs' showstopper
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    The judges find very, very little to critique here. They adore the orange sponge of the Cheshire Cat cake and love the way the playing card biscuits both look and taste. Paul's only point of contention is that he can't taste the elderflower or the black pepper in the biscuit's filling, but he still thinks it's delicious.

    Chigs' cheshire cat cake, playing card biscuits, and bun mushrooms
    Love Productions

    25. DELIGHTFUL: Last but not least, Crystelle. As expected, her Showstopper is nothing short of a marvel.

    Crystelle's colorful showstopper
    Love Productions

    Paul and Prue rave about her mushroom nankhatai biscuits, her chai sunflower sponges, and her curry-filled top hats.

    The aforementioned elements
    Love Productions

    26. STRESSFUL: ...But, for unclear reasons, Crystelle's focaccia came out of the oven 100% raw. Prue tells her it's not recognizable as focaccia, and Paul says it's inedible. Crystelle is crushed. I am crushed. Presumably, all of Great Britain is crushed. I never thought I'd say it, but now I have a vendetta against focaccia. No one explains outright why it went so wrong, but the episode's editing makes a meal out of how much oil Crystelle used to prove, soak, and bake her focaccia dough, so maybe that's the culprit.

    The raw focaccia
    Love Productions

    Final Results

    The final three waiting for the results
    Love Productions

    Warning: Spoilers below! 

    27. DELIGHTFUL: The show's traditional final picnic, which in lieu of inviting bakers and their families instead celebrated the staff who helped the contestants, hosts, and judges survive two months in a bubble.

    the final picnic
    Love Productions

    Okay, this is it...drumroll please...don't be distracted by this posh bunny that was lingering on the edges of the picnic...I just wanted to include a photo of him but couldn't find the right moment besides this one...here we go...

    the posh bunny statue
    Love Productions

    28. DELIGHTFUL: GIUSEPPE WINS! FOLKS, OUR FAVORITE ENGINEERING PIZZA MAKER HOME BAKER HAS BROUGHT IT HOME FOR ITALY! AND IF THAT WASN'T ENOUGH, HE'S ALSO THE FIRST ITALIAN WINNER OF THE SHOW! BRAVO!

    Giuseppe says, there are no words
    Love Productions

    In a post-win talking head, Giuseppe says that he hopes his win is a boost to his father, who has been dealing with some health problems. I'm not ashamed to admit that it was at this point that I started openly weeping over my laptop. 

    Special shoutout to Chigs and Crystelle who, in the grand Bake Off tradition, are as happy for Giuseppe as they would've been for themselves.

    Chigs and Crystelle, with Crystelle saying, his family are going to be so proud of him
    Love Productions

    Look at him! Living the dream!

    Giuseppe, hugging the plate
    Love Productions

    BONUS SECTION: Where are they now?

    A caption reading, Since they left the Baking Show bubble..;
    Love Productions

    Naturally, Freya and Lizzie went on a cross-country road trip to meet up with all their Bake Off pals.

    Freya and Lizzie in their car
    Love Productions

    They met with their fellow bakers all across the country...

    Maggie and Freya punting in Kent with Tom, swimming in Poole with Maggie, and playing mini golf with Chigs in Leicester (Chigs won)
    Love Productions

    ...culminating in a huge reunion picnic...

    Maggie and Freya sightseeing with Crystelle in London, eating ice cream with Jurgen in Brighton, and drinking with Rochica in Birmingham
    Love Productions

    ...where, blessedly, Jürgen and his son broke out the trombones.

    Jurgen playing trombone for the assembled bakers
    Love Productions

    But where is Giuseppe, you may ask? Well, after conquering Britain's greatest challenge, he moved back to Italy to work in Milan.

    Love Productions

    The note the show leaves us on is this one: Giuseppe and his father, who had been his inspiration throughout the competition, are writing a cookbook together. Either it's published in English or I'm learning Italian, because I'm not not going to buy that the moment it lands on the shelves.

    Giuseppe and his father planning to write a book together
    Love Productions

    And that, my friends, was 2021's edition of The Great British Bake Off. It's been an absolute pleasure sharing this show with all of you, and it remains a bright spot in ever more complicated times. I've been recapping the show all season, but I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Favorite moments? Most surprising eliminations? Has the Hollywood Handshake overstayed its welcome? You tell me.

    the final three bakers hugging
    Love Productions