Or they’ll all leave—but only one as Star Baker.
Going in: There’s Lauren from California, who won Star Baker twice. Nicole from Georgia, who won our less distinguished title of Star Hat-Wearer. And Tim, the beautiful baker bear from the Jersey Shore, who has already won Paul’s heart to Matt’s eyerolls.
The bakers were assigned their first pie of the season for the Signature, Johnny’s cranberry bread for the Technical, and a three-tiered gift-themed sponge for the Showstopper. Ultimately, Lauren won the glass cake stand, but let’s first talk about how we got there…
IN THE OPENER, ARE IAN AND NIA COLD OR PRETENDING IT’S COLD SO IT’S MORE CHRISTMASY?
PAUL: Who cares? Nia’s fabulous fur-collared poncho is back!
MATT: Who cares? Tim’s about to bake in bearclaw oven mitts.
DID YOU JUST REALIZE THAT IAN AND NIA ARE EXACTLY THE SAME LETTERS REARRANGED?
PAUL: Yes, and I find it slightly disturbing—though not as bad as couples with the same name. No, I won’t be saving the date, Pat and Pat.
MATT: Oh my god, I realized that last week but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want you to think I’m the Rain Man of competition-based reality TV! I bet they did something with that on their wedding invitation.
BEST MOMENT FROM THE SEASON RECAP:
PAUL: Tim looking proudly at his “naked” (read: “unfrosted on the sides”) cake. Because it allowed me to write “Tim” and “naked” in the same sentence.
MATT: I didn’t give Lauren enough attention for her buche de Noel, so I’m glad I get a second chance: That thing was beautiful!
PAUL: Marry Lauren because she knows how to get the job done, Kill Nicole to steal the coveted hat, and make sweet hot passionate man love with Tim every free minute for the rest of our natural lives.
MATT: Marry Lauren for a lifetime of fun facts, F Nicole because she gives such good reaction shot, Kill Tim for the sole purpose of pissing you off.
ALL MARY BERRY IS SEEKING IS “PERFECTION”:
PAUL: Sounds like the unmeetable expectations of parents who actually just mean, “I’m not capable of love.”
MATT: As Mary Poppins taught us, “Well-begun is half-done.”
IN TIM’S INTRODUCTORY CONFESSIONAL OUTSIDE THE TENT:
PAUL: His eyes are like two beautiful blue pools, into which I want to dive and doggy-paddle around forever.
MATT: His little cold-air puffs answer the question about if it was cold that day.
GOING INTO THE FINAL, I WANT _____ TO WIN:
PAUL: I believed Lauren was destined to win from day one, but when Tim proved he could win more than my heart last week, I got my hopes up for him to take home the cake stand.
MATT: On one hand, Nicole, because G.R.I.T.S. pride! But on the other hand, Lauren has been consistently awesome; even her “off” week wasn’t all that off. (See below.) So: Lauren.
PAUL: What the hell is G.R.I.T.S.?
MATT: A girl raised in the South!
PAUL: Oh, brother.
MATT: Shut up. It’s a thing. You can buy T-shirts at the Cracker Barrel.
DO WE THINK LAUREN HAVING AN OFF WEEK LAST WEEK IS A GOOD THING?
PAUL: If she’d been Star Baker every time, the finale would have seemed like a foregone conclusion; though, honestly, winning the first two of four was a pretty good indicator. If there were more episodes, they would have had a chance to spread the love around more. Why weren’t there more? Where was my bread week?!
MATT: Oh yes, definitely. Reality Tropes 101. They were just tearing her down to make her return more dramatic. Her Pastry Week Christmas Tree was actually quite beautiful; those editors didn’t have me fooled for a minute.
EVEN DRESSED UP IN A SNAZZY JACKET, JOHNNY LOOKS LIKE:
PAUL: He will run you over with his motorcycle.
MATT: …or he will try to sell you a used one.
NICOLE REACTION SHOT OF THE WEEK:
PAUL: Mary Berry has never had a sweet potato pie. NICOLE: “REALLY?!?!?!?!?”
MATT: The one where she’s adding too much hot water over Nia’s voice-over: “Adding too much hot water can kill the yeast leaving the bakers with a dense, heavy bread.”
WHEN TIM SAID “EVERYTHING NICE” AND LAUGHED COYLY:
PAUL: He was describing making love to me.
MATT: Oh good god. Since someone should, like, talk about his baking, I’m going to answer a different question and say that his maple custard sidecar is a really good idea.
IAN DABBING ON BOURBON AS COLOGNE:
PAUL: Shows he has an appropriate appreciation for the joys of liquor.
MATT: Remember Nia’s interest in doing shots from Cake Week? I think we’re witnessing a mating dance.
NIA SAYS SHE PUTS ON HER JEANS BY “JUST CRAMMING IT IN”:
PAUL: And she puts on her sweaters by first centering her fabulous cleavage in the the deepest V she can find.
MATT: I don’t believe it. Nia is really cutting a dash this episode. She doesn’t read “cramming it in” one bit.
TIM’S GENUINE ENTHUSIASM FOR NICOLE:
PAUL: Is yet another reason to love him. After his eyes, his hair, those arms, that beard, his smile…
MATT: More importantly, I just saw his bearclaw oven mitts. I have a crush now.
PICK FOR THE SIGNATURE BAKE:
PAUL: Lauren. The top is exquisite, the raisins are boozy, the salted caramel sauce looks incredible. And damn did that child bravely wait until the last possible second to take it out of the oven?! WERQ!
MATT: Totally Nicole. First, I’m sure this was filmed much too early for her to know how on point she’d be given Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pies. Second, I think the editors have painted her the unrefined down-home baker of the bunch, but her sweet potato flower is some Four and Twenty Blackbirds–level work.
THEY’RE FINALLY DOING BREAD!!!
PAUL: I swear to God even Nia’s knockers gave a little extra shake of excitement!
MATT: I knew when Johnny told the bakers to really read his instructions that they were going to be some bullshit. Lauren narrates some of them: “Make the dough. Make the jam.” What the hell, Johnny?
MARY’S REACTION TO JOHNNY’S PHALLIC LOAF:
PAUL: Makes me think that maybe he’s not been so off base with all his flirting and incessant touching of her. I should also make it clear, Johnny, that if I’ve in any way given you the impression that I would not sleep with you in these recaps, it’s only out loyalty to Tim. Call me.
MATT: So wait, we’re not going to get a shot of Mary stringing lights on the ladder?
OH, NO! NICOLE’S PROVING DRAWER WAS OFF:
PAUL: I did not actually realize that they needed turning on. I also did not know the term “prove” until I became totally addicted to this show.
MATT: That legit gave me as much anxiety as watching Iain’s baked Alaska fiasco. (Baked Alasco?) But I LOVE THE PROVING SEGMENTS ON THIS SHOW! The editors have to make sitting around and waiting look exciting. And it’s always the most riveting television I’ve ever seen.
PICK FOR THE TECHNICAL BAKE:
PAUL: Tim! The only thing they could find to criticize was that the icing merged a little. Give the man a break!
MATT: Yeah, Tim’s was pretty solid.
THOUGHTS ON THE FINAL SHOWSTOPPER CHALLENGE:
PAUL: Who cares?! Nicole brought back the tiny Santa hat!
MATT: I am so, so happy their Present Cakes must be 100 percent edible. That stupid cake challenge show on the Food Network always pisses me off because, yeah, the cake is eight feet tall and looks just like Jessica Rabbit, but it’s 85 percent foamcore. What’s the point?
NICOLE IS PUTTING BABY JESUS IN HER CAKE:
PAUL: I guess that seems more comfortable than a manger?
MATT: Would have been funnier if it were Lauren.
BEST MARY BERRY MOMENT OF THE SEASON:
PAUL: When Nia decides to try on some of of Tim’s pink cake batter as “lipstick” and Mary decides to liberally apply two more dollops to her face as “blush.” AMAZING. Americans bring out the wacky in our Mary!
MATT: Every time she plays Good Cop. When Johnny’s like, “You know the ginger will add extra moisture, right?” And then Mary’s all, “Well I’m sure it will be wonderful.” Of course, we vets know it’s all prelude for judges’ table disappointment.
NICOLE’S STRIPED SUGAR BOW: GOTTA WEAR IT/GOTTA EAT IT?
PAUL: Gotta wear it.
MATT: Yes and yes.
DID BABY JESUS MAKE SURE NICOLE’S CAKE CAME OUT RIGHT?
MATT: What?! I thought her manger cake was brilliant! (The interior anyway. I do fear that if the Wise Men saw the exterior they’d have turned around and dug up their gift receipts.) But I didn’t expect the inside to work, and lo, it did.
REGARDING THE BAKERS’ HAVING TO COVER FOR DESIGN FLAWS ON THE FLY AT JUDGING:
PAUL: No, I don’t believe that Tim scrunched up his fondant to resemble the way he wrapped gifts as a child—because even as a child, I believe Tim wrapped his presents perfectly.
MATT: I got the feeling that everyone’s gut laughs, especially Nia’s and Lauren’s, were totally legit when Nicole named her buttercream surprise.
YOUR PICK FOR SHOWSTOPPER:
PAUL: Tim! The best patterns! The best flavors! Almost as adorable as the man who baked it!
MATT: Props to Tim for his insistence on colored cakes being flavored: totally with him there. But my Showstopper pick is Lauren, by far. I’d imagine Tim’s would have tasted better, but Lauren tidy fondant and steady piping was indeed a Showstopper.
YOUR PICK FOR THE SEASON WINNER:
PAUL: Tim, now and forever. Call me, Tim.
MATT: I went back and forth between Lauren and Nicole for the past two episodes. Lauren bangs out a sleek presentation almost every time, but the flavor choices Nicole almost consistently made would have having me going to town without even noticing the presentation. So I’m going to cop out and say my pick for season winner is Lacole, and I want Lacole to bake me lots of things together.
DID YOU CRY WHEN GRACE, EDDIE AND AINSLIE CAME BACK?
PAUL: Who? #suckstogoearly
MATT: Yes. (And you’re heartless.)
YOUR OVERALL THOUGHTS ON THE AMERICAN IMPORT:
PAUL: I am pleasantly shocked that they wisely did in not with it more. I missed Mel and Sue but I find Nia and Ian immensely likeable. Johnny is a good choice in that he brings some of the Paul Hollywood smarm-to-table, and Mary is irreplaceable.
MATT: I’d rather have four episodes than no episodes, but ABC’s mini-season take made it hard to develop the same relationships you do with 12 British bakers on the BBC. I’m also glad the ABC suits were out to lunch and didn’t get a chance to ruin it with product placement.
LESSON OF THE SEASON:
PAUL: Courtesy of Tim: “There’s something to be said for losing out to someone who’s really good.” You don’t have to be the winner to be a winner!
MATT: Slip Mary Berry a nip of bourbon and it will all work out.
Last modified: August 29, 2017