[P]aul Hollywood and Prue Leith judged 12 Bakers with 30 Challenges over 10 weeks for the eighth series of The Great British Bake Off. From fabulous Illusion Cakes and Fortune Cookies to Stroopwafel and Pasteis de Nata, the Bakers dropped Clangers, gave respect to Italian week and rose to the challenge in Bread week, as they battled it out in the iconic white tent.
Ending on a fabulous Final of small breads, iced biscuits and a Showstopper Entremet, Sophie was crowned winner of The Great British Bake Off 2017. Here Prue and Paul talk about the final as Sophie celebrates her win.
Paul said tonight: “Can I be honest? I got a little bit emotional there because Sandi got a bit emotional so I walked off quite quickly and said it’s the wind in my eye. It’s been a real learning curve for Sophie. To come up with that Entremet for the Final; I was really shocked at the standard.”
Prue added: “Sophie seems very calm but she’s not that confident, possibly because she knows everybody else has more experience than her. I am so proud of her. I am really proud of all of them.”
At the end of the episode, Sophie said: “I am sure it will sink in but it hasn’t quite yet. The idea of winning was such a minute possibility. I don’t think I will forget this day for as long as I live. I have met some brilliant people and I got to the Final. It is beyond anything I have dreamed of. What a privilege.”
The Great British Bake Off Winner 2017, Sophie talks about her win: “It was very surreal, and I hadn’t allowed myself to think that I could win it up to that moment in time when they said my name and then the enormity of it hit me. I rarely got nervous in the tent, but on the second day of the Final, I felt it was a neck and neck race. I also knew everything was riding on my Showstopper, so I knew how important it was that I got it right.
“I was happy with most of my bakes, but my favourite was my Entremet [Ode to the Honey Bee] in the Final, particularly as I hadn’t based it on anybody else’s recipe, it was all my own. I had researched it and it came from my obsession with honey, I was inspired by the flavours [honey, lemon and lavender] and then based the Entremet around that.
“I do keep my emotions under control, so there wasn’t really a point in the tent that I would burst into tears. It wasn’t going to happen at the end of the final either, because if anything it was a relief. If I hadn’t won it I would have been so annoyed at myself that I didn’t get it right. I tend in baking to strive for perfection, with a kind of military precision and I want it to all work out perfectly. I like my bakes to look beautiful.
“My best moment was the Hollywood Handshake in the signature bake [my Fruity Cake] on Week 1, that was my first ever challenge, and then I got really good comments from Paul and Prue for my technical in Patisserie week, for the Les Miserables. The judges said it was one of the most difficult technicals ever set in Bake Off, and to get good judging made me feel great.
“Worst moment was in Week 4 when my Millionaire Shortbread wouldn’t set, and also in Forgotten Bakes week I felt I could be going home, because I didn’t get as good judging for my signature and technical. It was the Showstopper of my Savoy Cake which saved me.
“My most favourite challenges throughout the series were probably in Patisserie Week, for obvious reasons! I liked the Technicals throughout because you couldn’t be nervous as you didn’t know what was coming, and you almost had an excuse that you may not have known how it was supposed to turn out like.
“I think I am pretty cool, calm and collected. I don’t mind working under pressure, so being in the tent working under time restraints and the hot weather made me more focused and better organized. I am a girl who is pretty unfazed by most things, and I really enjoy throwing myself into the deep end in anything, so the challenges in Bake Off were something I enjoyed not feared.
“Bake Off has broadened my baking expertise, but my biggest love has to be patisserie. It inspired me to go further than just decorating cakes. I don’t tend to make the same cake twice as I like to use every opportunity to develop my skills and learn.
“At home I bake batches of bread and freeze them, I bake cakes for friends and people at my gym. I love decorating cakes, and you get a great sense of pride on finishing a cake that may have taken a couple of days to decorate and finish.
“I bonded with all the bakers, and it was sad to see the group shrinking each week. As the weeks got to the end we became a very tight support system for each other. Socially we see each other and it’s lovely we have shared that special experience. It’s so good to be part of the big Bake Off family!
“Similarly with the Army there is always a kind of brotherhood of people who share that communality. I always wanted to get into the Army, I was in the OTC at Manchester University [University Officer Training Corps], and I caught the bug then. There is nothing like the Army for challenging you mentally and physically, and I really thrived on that. Life in the army can be quite transient, but I enjoyed meeting so many different people and travelling to different countries.
“I got used to the cameras in the tent as I was so focused on what I was doing, I didn’t think too much of the actual show and how I was coming across. I was more interested in getting my bakes right. I was so lucky to stay to the end so got to know the crew really well, a great bunch of people.
“Paul and Prue know their stuff and I wholly trusted their opinion, so obviously you are hoping they are going to like your bakes, and of course you are elated when you get good comments from them. I am a massive fan of Sandi and Noel, they work so well together and like me, it was their first time in the tent too. They are a perfect fit to the tent, it didn’t seem like their first time, and I think they are a fabulous pairing.
“I never ever dreamed I would get to the final, let alone winning, so I am not sure where I will go from here. It would be wonderful to write a Patisserie book, but let’s see what comes my way. I would like to try travelling the world for inspiration for starters!”
Sophie and all the Bakers will join Jo Brand on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Thursday 2 November at 10.00 pm on Channel 4.
The final episode of the Great British Bake Off pulled in its biggest audience of the series with a massive 7.7 million viewers and a 34.6% share of audience from 8-9.15pm last night, making it Channel 4’s biggest overnight performance in five years (since The Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony in 2012). The audience peaked with 8.9 million and a 37.9% share of audience.
The final attracted an average of 2.0 million 16-34 year old viewers and a 57.5% share, more than half of those watching TV at the time, making it the biggest episode on commercial TV so far this year among the broadcaster’s key demographic.
The overnight series average of 6.2m/ 28.4% is Channel 4’s biggest in over six years (Since Big Fat Gypsy Weddings in 2011), for all viewers as well as 16-34s.
Taking account of time-shifted viewing on a television over a seven day period , the series is currently attracting a consolidated audience of 8.9 million viewers and a 33.4% share of audience per episode – rising to 10.4m viewers with the addition of linear repeats.
Bake Off has become the biggest series for young audiences on any channel this year, averaging 2.5m viewers/54.3% share of audience per episode. (Consolidated figures will be updated later today, taking last week’s episode into account).
The Great British Bake Off has achieved record digital performance becoming All 4’s biggest ever title averaging 1.7m views per episode on the on-demand channel (based on viewing across all platforms in a 0-7 day window).
Alex Mahon, Channel 4 CEO said: “It’s testament to the phenomenal appeal of The Great British Bake Off that almost nine million people watched Sophie triumph as Channel 4’s first ever Bake Off winner – a fitting finale to the most watched series for young viewers on any channel this year. Love Productions, along with Paul, Prue, Noel and Sandi, have served up a showstopper of a series and I’m delighted that they’ll all be back in the tent on Channel 4 next year.”
A Love Production for Channel 4