Mary Berry Joyously Weeps Over The Winner Of The Great British Bake Off
And when an angel cries, we all cry.
Since watching this episode, Mary Berry's tears of joy over the winner's triumphant victory have frequently come to mind. Her obvious pleasure in the baker's achievement says as much about Mary's own golden heart as it does about that of the season's champion. As much you can love people you have never met, I love these two.
And if you Google it, you'll see that Britain loves them, too. This episode was the most-watched television series in Britain last year. Sit with that: in a time of increasing religious intolerance against Muslims, nearly the entire United Kingdom rallied around a season starring Nadiya Hussein. Because how could they not? She's awesome. This show is awesome. It makes me want to hug a stranger in the street. (Or, at least, hug someone I already know...but extra-tight.)
In that spirit, let's enjoy this group hug from the contestants.
And now: the bakes! The signature features iced buns, which both sound and look like the perfect dessert. When I first lived in New York and didn't have a DVR, I used to race from my house to the bodega down the street to buy honey buns during the commercial breaks of American Idol. I called them my "honey bun runs," so clearly, an iced bun is my T.
I'm also a fan of mille-feuille, which serve as the season's final technical challenge. Since everyone's had trouble with pastry at one point or another, it's an especially good finish that requires A-games all around.
And then there's the showstopper, where everyone has to make elaborately presented varieties of classic British cakes, with at least three tiers. According to Paul, these classic cakes can include varieties like a lemon drizzle, a Victoria sandwich, or a Battenberg. I don't really know what any of those are, but nevertheless, thinking of all that cake makes me want to cry for joy all over again. Before I burst a capillary in my eye, however, let's see who baked what.
Tamal fills one set of his buns with cinnamon-spiced applesauce and whipped cream, which sounds like paradise. However, he raises the judges' eyebrows by opting for royal icing, which is crunchier than they were expecting. As ever, though, he stays sweet and lovely, and I crush on him all over again when he whispers to Nadiya that he isn't flavoring his dough. Whispering! He's done that before, and it's cute every time.
Anyway, once Tamal's buns arrive, you can instantly see that the royal icing was a bad idea.
It looks like a weird landing strip on top of a hot dog bun. Plus, despite flavors that are deemed quite delicious, the icing and the cream filling are apparently underdone. Time management at this stage of the game is not something you can spring back from.
It's also hard to rebound from poorly executed pastry in the technical.
Poor Tamal! That dough looks like it would blow apart if I sneezed on it. And I'm pretty sure it shouldn't look like the pastry is belching out the filling.
Undeterred, Tamal presses into the final with a sticky toffee pudding cake that's designed to look like an ancient, abandoned Chinese fishing village. Sue loves the fact that his classic British cake in inspired by ancient China. I love Tamal's sister, who interviews that he's been practicing for the show between his shifts as an anesthesiologist. She's so proud of him she cries. YOU GUYS I CAN'T TAKE IT.
The showstopper ends up looking busted, though...
...so it's a noble third for Tamal.
Ian opts two make two different doughs for his buns. One of them is infused with elderflower and filled with lemon curd, and here's how we know we're in the final. Ian's stuff is really complicated, but the flavor profiles, while surprising, make immediate sense. Take a risk if you can come up with something like this, you know?
Then Ian delivers these slightly messy results...
...which I would still totally eat. However, I see the point that the cardamom icing isn't shiny enough, and that all the icing seems sloppily applied. Even worse, it seems Ian forgot to add sugar to the cardamom icing. Happily, the other batch, with lemon curd and elderflower, are deemed "heaven on a plate."
In the midst of all this, Ian just barely admits that he wants to win. Remember how British people freaked out because Kate Winslet so obviously relished winning an Oscar? That reaction makes sense next to Ian's humble squeak of pride. I mean, if I won a free pair of pants at Old Navy, I'd be screaming and whooping and eating handfuls of paper. But I respect Ian's demeanor all the same.
Anyway, Ian's mille-feuilles are not that great, but the overall weak performances in the technical allow him to get second place.
Then, because carrot cake is my favorite cake, I must give Ian a thousand bonus points for making a five-layer carrot cake that's designed to look it has a single carrot "cascading" across all the layers. It looks like this...
...and you know who probably likes it? Ian's insanely adorable children, who say, "Good luck daddy!" during the cutest interview you'll see this week. Unless Sasha Obama interviews a corgi puppy.
Then Ian talks about how he's "gone and given it his all," and he cries. And he wipes his face with his apron. And that makes me cry. Because dammit, he's just obviously such a good person.
Ian ends up in second place for the season, and he's obviously a great baker. Back to your magical garden, sir!
Nadiya gets so nervous describing her iced buns that she trips over her words and her hands start shaking. Bless her heart!
I'm sure Nadiya's nervous because she's "breaking with iced bun tradition," as Sue hilariously intones. Shockingly, some of her buns will be shaped like hamburger buns, and some will be shaped like hot dog buns. WILD TIMES! But, as Mary says, "Why shouldn't a bun be round?" Mel replies, "My buns are round. Always!"
Spirits buoyed by these sage insights, Nadiya delivers these treats...
...and justifies her break with the expected. Doesn't that look like the cutest cookout ever? And the judges think they're delicious. To celebrate, let's get "Why shouldn't a bun be round?" tattooed on our asses!
Next up, the technical: Nadiya grabs first place, though the judges do seem to have some reservations about her pastry.
Then there's her showstopper, which is the British wedding cake she never got to have. (She was married in Bangladesh, where wedding cake isn't a thing.) She unites her British life with her Bangladeshi heritage by wrapping everything in saris and adding jewels she wore on her wedding day. This is probably the best example of a dessert becoming a metaphor for global peace.
And speaking of cute kids: Nadiya's daughter is asked which cakes she likes, and she lists the name of every cake she can think of. I feel you, homegirl. Then there's Nadiya's husband, who seems overwhelmed by taking care of the kids without her. But he doesn't care because he's so overjoyed to see her confidence and success. "She's a champion in our eyes," he says, and I'm crying yet again.
To top it all off, Nadiya's wedding cakes are dazzling.
The judges also admire the flavor and the bake. No wonder Nadiya won. Her skill and imagination are nonpareil.
MVP: Mary Berry's life-affirming tears.
LVP: Certain PBS markets for occasionally burning off two episodes of this season on a single Friday night. As though they were ashamed. As though Mary Berry were Tila Tequila.
Feed Me This Now: Ian's carrot cake, with chunks of orange inside.
This would be welcome on my plate any day.
Mel and Sue, Cracking Wise: Sue promises that, no matter where they place, all three of the final bakers will be invited to a wrap party where "Mary will reprise her famous twerking routine." Mary is surprised and delighted to have her secret talent revealed:
And Now a Word From Our Sponsor: What final would be complete without a mystery bird?
Don't even pretend to see her. She is hiding from you in the tall grasses, and you do not know when she will sneak up and steal your buns.
Mind Games With Paul Hollywood: As he's tasting Nadiya's wedding cake, Paul plays ooooone last mind game by saying, "Oh Nadiya...[heavy pause] it's stunning." Keep 'em guessing til the end, Paul!
Mary Berry's Guide to Style: In this final installment of the season, all praise must be given to the perfect orb of Mary's hairdo.
So round, so firm, so golden white.