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And so to the final, and the clash of the Titans! Or at least, the clash of three most excellent bakers, one middle-aged middle-class woman, one young working-class woman, and one eight year old in short trousers. Really. Andrew wore shorts on the final day, which is risky, because the contestants (as well as the judges and Mel and Sue) wear the same clothes both days, presumably for continuity reasons, so had there been an unseasonal blizzard, Andrew’s knees would have been freezing. I always wonder a bit about this: the clothes, I mean, not the knees. Do they just wear the same thing, and hope it won’t be too soaked with sweat or stained with jam or chocolate? Do things get washed overnight? Or (which I guess is also possible, in the mad, made-up world of television), do they bring several of each item of clothing? 

Sadly, since this was thelastepisodeofbakeoffasweknowiteverEVER, this conundrum must remain unanswered. But no matter, for we still had the cakes. And what a Signature Challenge to go out on! Paul.and Mary had said at the beginning that they wanted to make things simpler and go back to basics for this series, so of course the final Signature was always going to be a meringue crown with at least three layers of cream and fruit to celebrate Her Majesty’s ninetieth birthday. This presumably referred to the real Queen, not M Bez, leading to hope that the actual Queen might parachute into the closing picnic as she did at the Olympics, hopes which were sadly dashed even though the contestants made three picnics with chocolate cake specifically for her. 

So, a simple meringue crown to go out on. Of course. Jane is always claiming to be out of her depth as though she’s never made anything more than a couple of cup-cakes. In this challenge she slightly undermined this cover story by saying that the Pavlova she was making was her husband’s favourite pudding. Given that it takes about three hours to make, she obviously loves him very very much. She demonstrated her expertise by listening to her meringues to tell if they were cooled enough to take out of the oven. (Presumably they squeal in tiny voices “I’m cracking!!!!!” like the melting witch from the Wizard of Oz.)

Despite suffering a small crack, fnarr fnarr, Jane triumphed, gaining, not just a Hollywood handshake, but a double handshake, apparently known as a Roman clasp, although it sounds to me more like something you might find in a sex shop specialising in S&M gear (“Excuse me, but is this Roman clasp wipe-clean?”). Candice, who had also got the coveted handshake, watched through slitted eyes, aware that hers was merely a single (I have no idea whether she really watched through slitted eyes or not, but it sounds good). And poor Andrew, who filled his meringue with sweet, sweet praline rather than tart fruit purée to offset the sweet, sweet meringue, could only look on longingly. 

On to the Technical! More tomorrow.