Rahul Mandal has been crowned the winner of The Great British Bake Off 2018.
The notoriously nervous baker rose to the top of the competition with a showstopping rock garden fashioned out of cake and pastry.
Rahul was the early ‘Bake Off’ favourite with his ambitious showstoppers – added to his endearing reluctance to accept he might actually be half-decent at this baking thing – and he was a popular winner.
As with all reality shows, however, it’s never quite as straightforward as that, and the tide of viewer opinion had slightly turned against Rahul in the last few weeks as fans tired of his doom and gloom attitude, and felt he’d been championed by the judges over better bakers.
Rahul said: “I talk so much most of the time and I just don’t know what to say now.
“I don’t know whether to laugh, to cry, or what, I feel like I just need to talk with my mum.”
In the most intense heatwave Bake Off has seen, the finalists battled 32-degree heat and even faced a show first with an outdoor cooking challenge.
Kim-Joy and Ruby Bhogal were the show’s runners up, although many felt Kim-Joy should have been the series champion.
However, she was delighted for her co-star and a gracious runner-up.
Last year’s winner Sophie Faldo also congratulated Rahul.
Still, at least Prue Leith managed not to spoil the surprise this year, a big improvement on last year’s tweetgate.
This time, she gave a good margin for error after the end of the show to congratulate the winner.
There were plenty of thrills and spills on the way to choosing our 2018 winner, though – take a look at the final’s key moments.
The Signature Bake
Bake Off finals call for extra-delicious treats, and the Signature Bake did not disappoint with the bakers asked to make batches of filled and ring doughnuts.
Judge Paul Hollywood declared them “one of my favourite things”, which to be honest was a little surprising – somehow, they don’t seem quite serious and dour enough for Paul.
Meanwhile, Prue Leith reminded us that all the contestants had won Star Baker an equal number of times, making it a totally even playing field. Or was it?
Rahul admitted to never having eaten a doughnut before and we’ve rarely seen Paul look as white-hot angry as he did when the nervous baker said: “Because it looked like a deep-fried bread, I’m not going to eat it.”
Anyway, his flavours of mango and spiced orange sounded delicious although the reaction to the news that he was planning on topping them with buttercream was akin to him suggesting he planned to deep-fry Sandi Toksvig.
Ruby was making a combo of dulce de leche and raspberry with cardamom, and had a promising start by looking as calm as ever while viewers couldn’t get their heads around how gorgeous her family were.
Kim-Joy had a secret weapon for her doughnuts – alcohol, which we all know wins Prue over every time.
She’s been known throughout for her love of animal decorations, but our stomachs turned a little when a bee mistook one of her icing decorations for a real romantic partner.
As we got to know the bakers a little better with VTs from their family and friends, Rahul’s colleagues pointed out that even in his childhood photos, he wasn’t a smiler.
Kim-Joy in real life is brilliantly just as we expected, too, as her partner explained that they’d met at a board game evening.
The tension started to heat up with the deep-fat fryers, as Rahul described it as “a Rahul stress” and his icing bag exploded.
At the end of round one, Ruby had underfilled her doughnuts, Noel Fielding had described Rahul’s wreath doughnuts as “like a doughnut you’d get at a funeral”, and Kim-Joy was storming ahead of the competition.
Who won the Technical Challenge?
Before we get on to who won it, prepare yourselves for a moment in Bake Off history – for the first time ever, a challenge took place in the open air.
The finalists looked suitably shocked as they decamped to three firepits to make pita breads and dips.
Unfortunately for the trio, it looked as though the challenge had taken place right in the middle of this year’s heatwave, which is the last thing you need when you’re already sweating over being a potential Bake Off winner.
Obviously, panic ensued, which was clearly Paul’s evil plan in setting the challenge. Mwahaha.
Things got a bit caveman when they had to get out a slate to cook the bread on, and a pipe to stoke up the fire.
A moment of pure joy for Kim-Joy, though – she finally won a Technical! She was so happy that we almost felt she could go home after two rounds and not care who won the series.
However, Ruby came last, meaning she’d have to pull off the most incredible Showstopper of all time to win.
Ah, the garden party, where we get to catch up with previously eliminated bakers and match up the groups of family and friends with the contestants – and this time, they’d upped the ante with circus performers.
Paul, Prue, Noel and Sandi seemed to have had a sugar overload from the doughuts in round one as things got a little hysterical ahead of the Showstopper.
What wins the 2018 Bake Off title? A “landscape dessert”, which sounds like something else Paul and Prue cooked up after one too many sherries.
If landscape desserts are not an actual thing, they should be – Ruby had us at choux mountain and shortbread hills.
Kim-Joy decided to make edible Atlantis, explaining, “I feel like I live in a fantasy world anyway.”
Rahul represented his move to the UK through cake, with a complicated explanation of how it was like a rock garden that was just starting to lull us into a relaxed state when the peace was quite literally shattered by a storage jar exploding in the 32-degree heat.
Poor Rahul had to chuck out everything that could possibly contain shards of glass and start again from scratch – a cruel twist of fate, given that he was already by far the contest’s most nervous baker.
Paul and Prue seemed to have missed some vital information as they muttered that he was pushing himself too hard. Er, guys – did you see his bench just exploded?! Luckily, Sandi was on hand with a calming kiss.
Rahul gave his typically understated reaction – “this is a sign from God that I need to stop baking” – but fortunately, common sense prevailed and he was given an extra 15 minutes.
On the plus side, he finally seemed to have found his sense of humour. As Noel called Kim-Joy whimsical and Ruby stroppy, he asked Rahul to describe himself in one word, who deadpanned “depressing”.
Rahul’s final 15 minutes was pretty much the most stressed we’ve felt all year and it even left Noel and Sandi in tears as they called time up.
He obviously didn’t do too badly though, as Kim-Joy and Ruby’s resigned expressions when he presented his stunning rock garden was one of the funniest moments of the series.
Kim-Joy hit an unexpected rough patch with her Showstopper, which was deemed safe and boring, while Ruby’s bakes suffered from the heat.
Who won Bake Off 2018?
Rahul is the winner of The Great British Bake Off 2018!
Paul said: “I don’t think he realises still just how good he is, and that’s what’s so magic about him.”
It’s been an emotional rollercoaster this series with Rahul, but in the end he held his nerve in the toughest of circumstances – well done to him.