There were tears and tiers, tight decisions and high tension. But did we get the right champion?
On your marks. Get set. Here are all the talking points and social media reaction from Bake Off’s 2020 final…
Perfect Peter was a worthy winner
He came into this final as the reigning Star Baker and bookies’ favourite. There were a few minor hiccups along the way but the unflappable Peter Sawkins never truly looked at risk of letting the title slip through his fingers. His coolness was all the more impressive when you consider that at age 20, the baby-faced assassin™ becomes Bake Off’s youngest ever champion.
Pastry prodigy Peter stole the signature round with his impeccable (and typically Caledonian) Cranachan Custard Slices. He came a solid second in the walnut whirl technical. With the ever-improving Dave Friday breathing down his neck, he needed the showstopper to seal the title. His Bonkers Bake Off Bubble Cake worked just well enough to keep his nose in front.
For a scary moment, it looked like the judges might call it a tie but Peter’s previous form edged him ahead. He’s been Star Baker Twice to Dave’s once. He’s won two technicals to Dave’s one. In the event of a close call, it’s only fair this was taken into consideration.
When Peter accepted that coveted glass cake-stand trophy, it was a moment he’s dreamed about since he was 12 and first inspired by this very show to get into the kitchen, don oven gloves and start baking. He was giddy with delight and it was infectious. As the most consistent baker throughout the contest, he thoroughly deserved it.
It was a sweet moment when his college flatmates, who had no idea how far he’d got in the contest, learnt that they had a Bake Off winner in the house. Good luck fending off all those requests for cakes and selfies from fellow students, Peter.
Laura didn’t look a worthy finalist
Poor Laura Adlington. She only narrowly squeaked into this final at the expense of the popular Hermine and duly suffered a cruel backlash from social media trolls, telling her she didn’t deserve to progress – and many more unsavoury things besides.
Sadly, Laura’s critics won’t have been won over by her performance here. Her custard slices didn’t set and Laura hid her tearful face in the fridge – not the first time we’ve seen that happen this series. When she promptly came last in the technical round too, her final was effectively over by the halfway mark.
Laura dried her eyes and soldiered on, delivering a decent showstopper with a smile on her face. However, her task in this final had been clear. Her flavours were always great but she needed to prove she could finesse her presentation and fix her messiness. She singularly failed to do so and those weaknesses remained all too obvious.
There’s no excuse for online bullying, of course. Kindness is one of Bake Off’s brand values. Laura is clearly a lovely woman and a very good baker. Yet you couldn’t help wondering how Hermine might have fared in this final instead.
Dave was unluckiest runner-up in Bake Off history
With his unblinking robo-stare and unabashed competitiveness, Dave Friday hasn’t been the most popular baker this series but ultimately, you had to feel sorry for him. In what the judges called their toughest decision yet, he came within a whisker of overtaking Peter at the last gasp.
The pendulum swung between the two boys throughout. Peter edged the signature round but Dave came out on top in the technical. Two of the four elements of their showstoppers worked beautifully, two not so much. Dave was this year’s most improved baker, having been listening and earning each week, but it was Peter’s series-long consistency that narrowly clinched it.
We never got to cry “Thank God it’s Friday”. Dave’s wiggling shoulders of joy didn’t go into overdrive. However, he was calm, methodical and quietly confident throughout. He was on the verge of tears at the end and magnanimous in defeat. We didn’t want him to win but we warmed to him nonetheless.
The father-to-be, closing captions informed us, has since had a baby son named Ronnie. Congratulations. That will become one very well-fed boy.
Garden party for crew was a nice touch
It’s traditional in the Bake Off final for friends, families and eliminated bakers to descend on the marquee for one last hurrah. In the bio-bubble, that wasn’t possible but instead we got a pleasing alternative.
Around 120 staff from programme-makers Love Productions made sacrifices this summer by self-isolating for a fortnight, then leaving their loved ones for seven weeks to live and work at Down Hall Hotel in Essex. It was a Herculean effort to relocate Bake Off from its regular Welford Park home and create a painstakingly sanitised, Covid-safe environment so the series could stay on-air.
Co-host Matt Lucas made a point of thanking all the Bake Off bubblers, especially the “medics, cleaning team and hotel staff”. Inviting them all to the celebratory picnic was a fitting gesture. They’d earned their moment in the sun and cameos on-camera – not to mention a slap-up picnic feed. Good bake, gang.
Final was cherry on top of a miraculous series
We were fortunate to get a Bake Off at all this year, let alone such a solid one. This 11th series might not have been a true classic but it was certainly an improvement on last year’s flat misfire, which is quite some achievement under the circumstances.
This contest hasn’t been without incident and controversy. There were dropped cakes, melting ice cream and outcries over a few eliminations. There were some highly engaging characters amongst the doughy dozen contestants – the likes of Rowan Williams, Sura Selvarajah, Hermine, Linda Rayfield and Lottie Bedlow.
The standard of baking in this final wasn’t the highest – blame nerves, high pressure and even higher in-tent temperatures – but it was a tense race with a worthy winner. A godsend on a rainy lockdown evening.
Series might be over but more treats in store
That might be the end of the 11th series but there’s more Bake Off sweetness to feast on. At 8pm on Friday, there’s spin-off show An Extra Slice, which will feature all three finalists.
Transmitting weekly from next Tuesday, the Bake Off-shaped hole in the schedules is filled by two Best Bits compilation episodes and two Winners’ episodes. There are then festive specials on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
As if that wan’t enough bunting, piping and proving, Junior Bake Off also returns in January. Yep, the cake just keeps on coming. Join us back here at telegraph.co.uk to dissect all the in-tent action.
Phew. A tight final but the right result, I reckon.
That concludes the action on-screen but don’t go anywhere just yet. Please stay with us for analysis, talking points and social media reaction…
Always one of the highlights of the series, as wry captions tell us what our nine eliminated bakers have been up to since leaving the tent.
Rowan has learnt to make his own waistcoats. Radiographer Loriea has been working night shifts at hospital and watching the contest on catch-up. Mak‘s son got married. Sura has eaten chocolate again. Linda is back on Bexhill-on-Sea beach. Laura has learnt how to tidy up her kitchen. And Dave had a baby boy called Ronnie last month. Aww.
Peter Sawkins is Bake Off champion
The right decision, I think. The baby-faced assassin has set the pace all series, since winning Star Baker way back in week one. He’s been Star Baker Twice to Dave’s once. He’s won two technicals to Dave’s one. In the event of a draw, which is almost was, it’s only right that this should be taken into consideration.
Line up and let’s announce this
The final three stand outside the tent for the announcement. Their fellow Bake Off bubblers are in the background. Breath is bated. Long dramatic pauses…
Time for the big decision
Laura’s out of the running, so it’s between the boys and it could barely be tighter.
Peter won the first round. Dave won the second. Two of the four elements of their showstoppers worked, two didn’t. The judges couldn’t cop out and call this a draw, could they? COULD THEY?
Laura thinks David will just nab it. But she’s not judging.
Dave’s risk pays off . At least partly
Has he done enough to overtake Peter? His Fraisier cake is deliciously light and lovely. His brownies are gooey. But the babka is overbaked and tough, while the choux buns are underbaked, so it’s not perfect by any means.
The whole looks well-designed but not every element works – rather like Peter’s. This could be a close call.
Imperfect Peter doesn’t seal the deal
Peter could have secured the title here but I don’t think it’s quite secure. It looks festive and lovely but not every element works. “A good effort,” says Prue, which is rather damning him with faint praise.
Has the baby-faced assassin blown it? Could Dave sneak in, with his redemptive tower, his hard stare and his shoulder wiggle?
Laura’s not done enough
I think we can safely assume that’s Laura out of the running. Her individual elements look nice but they don’t work together – a metaphor for her Bake Off journey™, perhaps?
“There’s nothing wrong with your baking,” Prue tells her. It all tastes delicious even “heavenly” and “amazing” but sadly, it’s nowhere near enough.
Judgement time – for the last time
Bring on the final tasting session of the series. Everything riding on this. Hold onto your aprons.
So thaaaaaaat’s what this emoji is: 💩
It’s a walnut whirl. We’d always wondered. #GBBO
— innocent drinks (@innocent) November 24, 2020
They think it’s all over. It is now
The bakers get a round of applause from cast and crew as they finish their final bake.
A lovely moment as they collapse into group hug and their mucky aprons join as one. Imagine the laundry bill.
Dave has finished early
He offers a hand to the other two. That’s Bake Off camaraderie for you.
Raising a cuppa to Rowan
Flamboyant bow-tied baker Rowan Williams used to casually sip tea as he baked. As Peter does the same, he say “To Rowan!”. Aww, nice touch.
He also listens to his bakes like tent alumnus John Whaite – whose victory in series three first inspired Peter to take up baking.
Crew attend the annual picnic
It’s traditional in the Bake Off final for the bakers’ family and friends to descend for a celebratory picnic outside the tent but that’s not possible in the bio-secure bubble.
Instead the guests will be the 120-strong crew who left their loved ones for six weeks to make the series happen. A nice touch. They’ve earned this.
Music quickens.. Tension mounts
An hour to go and Peter is saying “jeepers creepers”, which is Sawkins-ese for swearing.
Peter’s in a muddle for once
His checkerboard biscuits are now stripy. He has the self-awareness to blame it on nervous brain-fuzz.
Dave dices with danger
Dave is making a Tower To Redemption, tackling the bakes he’s done badly throughout the contest.
A Fraisier cake base, chocolate babkas, miniature brownies and raspberry profiteroles. A risky strategy but you’ve got to admire him, ahem, “cojones”. Apologies, I’ll never use that word again.
Peter goes mad for once
The normally sensible Mr Sawkins is throwing caution to the wind with a Bonkers Bake Off Bubble Cake. It’s his “most out there bake” yet, says the wild and crazy kid.
A Victoria sponge base, then lemon and blackberry creme diplomat, chocolate and orange checkerboard biscuits, Christmas-spiced friand plum duffs and topped with a puffed rice Christmas tree.
He loves Christmas, bless him. Well, he is only about eight. He’s probably hoping Santa brings him an Action Man and some Toffos.
Laura’s over the rainbow
Quoting GK Chesterton, aka “prince of paradox”, Laura is making a rainbow cake. Let’s hope she doesn’t say it’s for the NHS and fail to mention the LGBT community, like Paul did earlier in the series with rainbow bagel-gate.
A carrot cake base, her Star Baker-winning Key Lime tart, chocolate orange Chelsea buns, miniature macaroons, piped flower… Camp as Christmas but will it be just as tasty?
Even the showstopper is in tiers
For their final bake, our trio must make a colossal dessert tower, reflecting their personal Bake Off experience. There must be a large cake at its base, then layers showing off different baking disciplines.
Prue compares it to an “end-of-term exhibition”. She clearly didn’t go to my comprehensive school.
They have four-and-half-hours. So for the last time this series, on your marks…. get set… Baaaaaake!
Everything rides on the showstopper
It would take a miraculous showstopper to haul Laura back into contention but stranger things have happened.
Is Laura out of the running already?
Looks like it’s between Peter and Dave at the moment. But still all to bake for.
Laura last again
Laura’s in third place and surely out of the running now. But it’s tight between the boys.
In a reversal of the signature round, Dave wins this one with Peter second. Dave looks endearingly chuffed and gives his trademark shoulder wiggle. He’d do a good samba on Strictly.
Whirls are worlds apart
Laura’s aren’t quite set and she had timing issues, which sounds strangely familiar. Dave’s are “as neat as a pin”. Are pins notoriously neat?
Approach the gingham altar
Judgement time on the technical. Sit on your high stools and give it your best poker face, bakers.
Peter is “dissatisfied”
I believe that’s the first time this has ever happened.
Somebody nip down the newsagent
And come back with an armful of Walnut Whips. Or is it Whirls?
Meltdowns of every kind
Nobody knows how thick the sablé biscuit base is supposed to be. Laura’s struggling with whisking her egg whites and sugar syrup. Peter’s meringue is melting.
Dave has opted for a dipping rather than pouring his chocolate. Bold, Man Friday, bold. But it seems to be working fine.
Feeling hot, hot, hot
It’s 35 degrees in the tent. The bakers are keeping cool by dabbing their sweaty brows, guzzling water and draping damp tea towels around their necks.
I don’t envy them, working with tempered chocolate in this heat. The August heatwave feels like a looooong time ago, doesn’t it?
Oh, Laura. Yet again
Turns out she hates coffee so has no idea how to make the coffee-infused ganache. This isn’t going well, is it?
Remember this is someone’s dream, a huge moment and achievement. Don’t spoil it by being mean or horrible because you don’t agree. @BritishBakeOff is about love and cake. Words hurt so be kind and enjoy #Gbbo proud of all the new bakers ❤️
— Candice Brown (@CandiceBrown) November 24, 2020
Technical challenge time
Is the last gingham-shrouded mystery of the series. The bakers have to make eight walnut whirls.
Or Walnut Whips, as they’re presumably not allowed to be called for copyright reasons.
Pep talk from Prue
La Leith reassures Laura that she’s had a bad morning but could still have a good afternoon. Get your head out of your freezer and chin up, babez.
Laura’s slices of death
“Oh, Laura,” sighs the nation again. Her custard isn’t set so they’ve gone all sloppy and floppy. The pastry is more like a cracker. They look like somebody has sat on them. Lovely flavours, as always, but not finalist fodder.
Dave’s are decent
Beautiful pastry, gorgeous coffee flavour but wobbly icing lines and slightly stodgy custard.
Perfect Peter’s are, well, near-perfect
A professional look. Lovely flaky pastry. Perhaps a little thick but delicious flavour and crunchy oat topping.
It’s a thumbs up for Peter’s Cranachan Custard Slices but no Hollywood handshake. This is the final. He’s not mad.
Stand by your custard slices, “Praul and Poo” are coming to taste them.
Meanwhile, Noel Fielding gives Laura a sweet little pep talk about well-known baker Bjorn Borg.
Fridge gives Laura the cold shoulder
Laura ends up with her head in the freezer, a bit weepy, and waving away Dave’s well-meaning attempts to comfort her. It was somehow inevitable but it’s still hurty to see.
Laura huffing and rough-puffing
Laura’s pastry is crumbling as she cuts it and her custard isn’t sett. She’s struggling with time and having “an absolute nightmare”. Again.
Peter’s honeycomb seems to be a breathing, sentient organism. It’s aliiiiive.
Uh-oh, Laura’s having a wobble
Butter’s seeped out of her pastry and it’s too thick. “Oh, Laura,” sighs a nation in unison.
Laura’s messy at home too
Her husband Matt sends a video message, mentioning her habit of leaving the kitchen looking like a scorched post-apocalyptic hellscape.
Somewhow reassuring that she doesn’t just do that when there’s crew members to clean up after her.
Rough puff the order of the day
Lamination, lamination, lamination. That should be the title of Bake Off’s Channel 4 stablemate, probably presented by Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer.
Quelle surprise! Peter goes Scottish
Proud Scot Peter uses Scottish ingredients every chance he gets and here it’s no exception. Peter’s Cranachan Custard Slices will include raspberries, whisky, two different custards and probably some Irn-Bru.
Dave wakes up and smells the coffee
Dave’s opted for a Caramel Latté Custard Slice, even though he’s had trouble with caramel several times during the contest. Risky.
Those caramelised hazelnut spikes could have your eye out. Health & Safety nightmare.
Laura goes sideways
Laura going for a Yuzu custard slice, served vertically for reasons I don’t quite understand. Maybe she’s hoping the judges will fall over in delight. She’s aiming for “refinement”. Will she pull it off?
Signature bake is custard slices
Eight custard slices in two-and-a-half hours is the first challenge
Noel cracks a “General Custard/Battle Of Little Cream Horn” gag. Tumbleweed blows and he pretends to leave the tent in disgrace.
Here come the famous four
Into the tent of doughy dreams come co-presenters Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas, and judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. They’re a veritable feast of printed tops. Except Paul, obviously.
Peter the prodigy
He’s watched every episode of Bake Off since series three and has wanted to get here since he was 12. Now he’s the youngest ever finalist and is the bookies’ favourite.
Dave the improver
He’s listened and learned over the past nine weeks and is one of the most improved bakers in Bake Off history. He also likes mangoes and has been on holiday to Mexico. Did he mention that?
Laura the underdog
Introductory VTs on each finalist. It traces Laura’s journey from that Freddie Mercury cake bust (or was it the guy off the Pringles tube?) to this final. She’s struggled with confidence and presentation but she’s a survivor.
Roll title sequence
That little girl must be in her 20s by now. There’s still a raspberry missing off that chocolate cake and all.
And we’re off!
Cue tension-building montage. In the beginning, there were 12. Ah, Sura! Rowan! Lottie! Hermine! Various men called Mak/Marc/Mark! How we miss thee.
Grab a cuppa (or something stronger) and take your sofa seats
We’re about to go over to that wondrous white marquee…
Will Dave’s shoulders be wiggling with joy?
Hampshire armoured security guard Dave Friday, 31, is the contest’s most improved baker. After a shaky start, he’s snuck up on the rails to become a serious contender – despite struggling with the technical round in recent weeks.
With his unblinking stare, naked competitiveness and shoulder wiggle of pleasure when praised, determined Dave has proved a divisive figure among fans. But he’s steadily become stronger as the contest has gone on and would become the second consecutive David to win.
A mere five minutes left on the apron-clad countdown…
Can messy Laura clean up?
Gravesend born-and-bred digital manager Laura Adlington, 31, bakes from the heart but admits refinement isn’t her strong suit. She ain’t kidding. The only female finalist has become known as the flavour queen, with a penchant for citrus and summer fruits. However, her presentation is erratic, to put it politely. The recurring pattern has been that Laura drops her bakes or decorates them messily, but their flavours narrowly save her skin.
She was reduced to tears by last week’s complicated Danish cornucopia technical and has come perilously close to elimination three times in the past four weeks. Paul Hollywood took to Instagram to defend poor Laura from trolls when she survived over fan favourite Hermine.
She’s the rank outsider but if Laura can cut out the mistakes, her flavours might just clinch it. Ten minutes to cake o’clock…
Predictions for #GBBO?? I reckon Laura will have an absolute nightmare, have a complete meltdown and win the whole thing.
— Si Deaves (@SiDeaves) November 24, 2020
Will the baby-faced assassin kill it?
Let’s limber up with a quick rundown of our three contenders.
Wholesome Edinburgh University student Peter Sawkins is the youngest ever finalist at 20. He’d also become the first winner from north of the border.
Pastry prodigy Peter marked himself out as a contender straight away, being crowned Star Baker in week one after his Sir Chris Hoy cake bust. With highly honed planning and time management skills, often using rulers or templates for extra precision, he’s been unerringly consistent ever since, acquiring the nicknames “Perfect Peter” and “baby-faced assassin”.
Earning his second Star Baker accolade in last week’s semi meant Peter was the first to go through to the final. He’s also the only two-time winner among the last trio.
But will he justify his status as favourite? Fifteen minutes to wait now, Peter-ites…
What’s on the menu tonight?
Our three courses of cake-based competition tonight? I’m glad you asked. There’s a deceptively simple signature bake, combining set custard and puff pastry.
The oft-dreaded technical challenge celebrates the classic combination of chocolate and nuts. Sadly, it isn’t “buy a bar of Cadbury’s Whole Nut from the local garage”.
Finally, the bakers have free rein to demonstrate to the judges why they deserve to be crowned winner with multi-layered dessert tower showstoppers. Let’s hope nobody drops theirs or falls face-first into it.
Mouth watering yet? Twenty minutes until cakey kick-off…
A decade of dough
We’ve had six female and four male Bake Off champions since the show started in 2010.
Can Laura make it 7-4 to the women? Will Peter or Dave pull it back to a nearly-gender-balanced 6-5?
It’s 25 minutes to tent time…
At least there were no Prue Leith spoilers
Remember three years ago, when Bake Off judge Prue Leith accidentally tweeted her congratulations to the winner 12 hours in advance? Ah, happy days. Except perhaps at Channel 4 HQ.
Half an hour until he head tentwards…
Let cake-based battle commence
Will it Perfect Peter, Messy Laura or Starey ‘n’ Slightly Scary Dave? Yes, gluten fiends, it’s time for the gala grand final of The Great British Bake Off 2020 and our bakers are about to enter the fabled tent for the last time.
This has been a series like no other, with cast and crew packing up the marquee, shipping out of Welford Park and forming a Covid-secure environment at an Essex hotel to ensure the nations’ favourite foodie contest could be safely staged during lockdown.
Across nine weeks of swatted flies, dropped cakes, melted ice cream and controversial eliminations (Mak! Lottie! Hermine!), a dozen apron-clad hopefuls have been whittled down to just three – but only one can be crowned winner tonight and it’s all to bake for.
Expect pastry pressure, a towering showstopper and the tightest decision ever. But who will succeed reigning champion David Atherton (no, we barely remember him either) and become the 11th owner of that coveted glass cake-stand trophy?
I’m Michael, your sous chef for tonight’s grand finale. It’s showtime at 8pm on Channel 4. I’ll be liveblogging from 7.30pm, providing build-up, rolling coverage, social media reaction and sarky asides.
Please join me – and join in, too. You can email me on [email protected], tweet me on @michaelhogan or leave comments at the bottom of this blog. I’ll keep an eye on them all and report the highlights here.
On your marks. Get set. And for one last time in the bio-bubble… bake!