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Get caught up on The Great British Baking Show before the finale

get-caught-up-on-the-great-british-baking-show-before-the-finale

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Screenshot: Netflix

From the moment this season’s batch of bakers was announced, we knew that the 12th season of The Great British Bake-Off Baking Show would be one to remember. The show has found ways to evolve in the absence of its former hosts, escalating the baking challenges and allowing time for antics whenever possible. This season has imbued GBBO with a fresh new energy, even straying into outright raunchiness at times—and if you haven’t caught up on the latest season yet, Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect time for a marathon viewing. Take a stroll through all our recaps of the current season, and prepare yourselves for Friday’s climactic finale.

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Episode 1: Cake Week

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Screenshot: Netflix

The season opener’s signature bake is mini Swiss rolls, and right out of the gate, contestant Jürgen gives every indication that GBBS recaps will soon revolve around him. His colorful personality blends nicely with his unique spin on Swiss rolls, which take their cues from German Black Forest cake.

The technical challenge involves malt loaf, a raisin-studded old person cake that is best left undiscussed. But at least the malt loaf gives us a chance to learn more about Maggie, a sweet ray of sunshine who outshines the competition on this round.

The showstopper bake is gravity-defying cakes, and a bunch of weekend baking hobbyists are somehow expected to rise to this occasion like they’re structural engineers. Oh, wait, contestant Giuseppe actually is an engineer. That doesn’t quite seem fair.

Star Baker: Jürgen

Sent Home: Tom

Read our full Cake Week recap here.

Episode 2: Biscuit Week

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On Biscuit Week, we end up thinking a lot harder about the motivations of host Noel Fielding than what any of the bakers are up to in the tent.

First up is the signature bake, filled brandy snaps, which Jürgen sails through with flying colors. (Great showing in this round by contestant Lizzie as well.) But it’s during the technical bake, a challenge involving Jammie Dodgers, when we catch a glimpse of the chaos Noel might be capable of.

Crystelle drops her batch of cookies on the floor when she bumps into something while carrying the tray. But that something was… Noel’s knees? Because Noel is very much in her way? At best, the man does seemingly everything in his power to distract the contestants as they work their way through difficult feats of pastry. At worst, he’s attempting to throw the results of the entire season.

Star Baker: Jürgen

Sent Home: Jairzeno

Read more about it in our full Biscuit Week recap.

Episode 3: Bread Week

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Screenshot: Netflix

There’s no other way to say this: in the Bread Week episode, Paul Hollywood eats a baby. We’ll get to that in a moment.

We begin with a straightforward signature bake, focaccia, a challenge that is won rather straightforwardly by Giuseppe. For this feat, he is awarded the first Paul Hollywood Handshake of the season. In fact, Giuseppe was apparently sent by heaven on high to dominate Bread Week, because he wins the next round, too: a technical bake involving ciabatta breadsticks.

But it’s in the final showstopper round that we see some stuff we can’t unsee. For the Japanese milk bread challenge, contestants must make a themed display of bread sculpture, and somehow three different bakers choose to bake up an octopus (as seen in the photo above). Only Jürgen has the idea to make his bread into… a human. Specifically, a baby. Which Paul Hollywood must carve up with a serrated knife and eat in front of everyone. It might surprise you to hear Jürgen does not win Star Baker.

Star Baker: Giuseppe

Sent Home: Rochicha

Read our full Bread Week recap here.

Episode 4: Dessert Week

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By the time we reach Dessert Week, we’re nearly halfway through the season, so it makes sense that there might be an episode that lags a bit somewhere in the middle. This is definitely that episode.

We get to spend some time with George and Chigs during the signature bake in which contestants must make an inventive pavlova, yet while Chigs gets a Paul Hollywood Handshake for his interpretation of the Australian dessert, George gets a dressing down from Prue for his unsightly version.

Maggie, seen above, has made a name for herself this season by championing traditional recipes, so it’s a bit ironic that in the technical challenge for sticky toffee pudding, an indisputably classic dessert, she forgets to add the flour and must face the consequences.

The showstopper bake, Joconde Imprime, is interpreted by Jürgen in such a complicated way that it nearly defies a basic summary. You might just have to read about it in our full Dessert Week recap.

Star Baker: Chigs

Sent Home: Maggie

Episode 5: German Week

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German Week. What a theme! This nation is not only home to a plethora of tasty baked goods, but it’s also the homeland of GBBO superstar Jürgen, so naturally, he’s a shoo-in for Star Baker this episode. Right?

Not quite. He does sail through the signature bake round with German cookies that earn him a Paul Hollywood Handshake. But the technical challenge involves a tricky multilayered ganache-coated cake called a Prinzregententorte, which Jürgen admits to never having made before in his life. He does an admirable job, but he does not outstrip Giuseppe, who has been in dead heat with Jürgen all season long.

The showstopper round of tiered yeast cake only solidifies Giuseppe’s dominance. Turns out that no one understands German desserts quite like an Italian engineer.

Star Baker: Giuseppe

Sent Home: Freya

Read the whole German Week recap here.

Episode 6: Pastry Week

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If you can make it through this week without hearing the blaring innuendo, we commend you for your sheltered existence. Pastry Week involves the piping of pastry out of conical bags held firmly at the base, which can lead to unexpected squirts, spurts, and splashback—you get the idea.

The signature bake demands picturesque chouxnuts, during which Crystelle and George have a discussion about—what else?—nut-touching. Things get slightly reined in with the technical challenge of baklava, mainly because nothing is squishing erratically out of piping bags in this round. All the bakers hold their own during this one.

It’s during the showstopper round, terrine pie, when we’re treated to some drama. Amanda’s terrine meets certain doom when it nearly collapses while being freed from its pan. It’s Chigs to the rescue: he thrusts his bare hands around the hot pie, holding it together as its walls begin to crumble. He and Amanda patch the thing up the best they can, and as far as we know, Chigs’ hands aren’t permanently scarred. But it’s not enough to keep Amanda in the running, and it’s yet another rather suggestive moment in an already highly suggestive episode.

Star Baker: Crystelle

Sent Home: Amanda

Read the whole Pastry Week recap here.

Episode 7: Caramel Week

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Caramel Week features a number of sticky situations, but one important development floats above it all: Chigs wears glasses. What a dreamboat. Moving on.

Filmed in an outdoor tent in the height of summer, Caramel Week presents bakers with lots of unnecessary grief and offers viewers lots of entertainment. Everyone’s first-round caramel tarts look rather deflated by the heat, to say the least. Luckily, things proceed less embarrassingly for the contestants with the technical challenge of Twix bars. They’ve got this.

The showstopper involves delicate sugar domes, which… okay! Crystelle starts out confident, but her sugar dome breaks not once, not twice, but thrice. On her fourth attempt, Chigs and Lizzie swoop in for the assist, and the dome survives its unmolding with seconds to spare. It’s a triumphant moment that reminds you what brought audiences to this show in the first place.

Star Baker: Jürgen

Sent Home: George

Read the full Caramel Week recap here.

9 / 11

Episode 8: Free From Week

Episode 8: Free From Week

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Photo: Netflix

What is Free From Week, you ask? A week in which every challenge features a recipe “free” of certain allergens or animal products. And with vegan baker Freya already gone, it’s time for Lizzie to shine.

Dairy-Free Ice Cream Sandwiches are the focus of the first round, and Lizzie’s dairy-free “Ode to Dog” ice cream sandwiches are inspired by the ones her dog Prudence gets from the Mr. Whippy ice cream truck after a long walk. Tell us that’s not charming as hell. Much more charming than anything that occurs in the vegan sausage roll technical challenge.

To top it all off, Lizzie’s showstopper gluten-free cake, like everything Lizzie has ever done, gives us a beautiful taste of organized chaos. For her grand finale, she makes a cake representing the inside of her mind, and it is glorious. In the end, she is sent home more because of the embarrassment of riches left within this lineup of bakers, not because of any particular failing on her part. Lizzie, we expect to see you again on our TV screens very, very soon.

Star Baker: Chigs

Sent Home: Lizzie

Read the full Free From Week recap here.

10 / 11

Episode 9: Patisserie Week

Episode 9: Patisserie Week

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Patisserie Week is also the semifinal, and it’s down to Chigs, Crystelle, Giuseppe, and Jürgen. Translation: the viewers win no matter what!

It really is anyone’s game at this point. In the first round, Prue says Jürgen’s opera cakes are “sensational,” their texture “absolutely perfect,” and adds that it’s a “pity I’m not the one who hands out handshakes.” Meanwhile, Paul Hollywood doles out a handshake to every other baker.

A Breton tart technical challenge leaves the field more starkly divided: Chigs comes in 4th, Crystelle is 3rd, Giuseppe is 2nd, and Jürgen is the victor.

Finally, we arrive at edible centerpieces. Who wants to eat someone’s centerpiece? Anyway, Paul says that Chigs’ centerpiece is “exceptional,” and Crystelle’s is “flawless.” Giuseppe edges out Jürgen, who must be sent home after a mediocre showing of matcha patisserie.

Star Baker: Crystelle

Sent Home: Jürgen

Read the full semifinal recap here.

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