Former Great British Bake Off finalist triumphs in Christmas special
Affable garden designer Jane Beedle has been crowned star baker in The Great Christmas Bake Off.
The 2016 finalist triumphed in all three challenges to beat fellow returning contestants Liam Charles, Flo Atkins and Andrew Smyth.
Clasping her Bake Off trophy to her chest after being named winner, she said: “I’m almost lost for words. It’s so lovely to win it.
“It’s going to have pride of place somewhere. There is no way I am going to hide this under a bushel.”
Paul Hollywood said Beedle “dominated” all three challenges and he was pleased she had returned to the Bake Off tent.
He said: “It’s really rare for someone to dominate in all three challenges and Jane, I think, did exactly that.
“She was a finalist the last time she was in the tent and now this time she’s actually won it. I feel very proud of her.”
Prue Leith added: “It’s been such a great year and what a wonderful way to end it.”
Beedle impressed the judges with all her creations in the festive-themed Channel 4 show.
Her Norwegian-style biscuits – a clove-covered selection celebrating the 12 days of Christmas – earned her plaudits from Hollywood and Leith.
In the technical task her Icelandic laufabraud, a thin and crispy fried flat bread, were deemed “pretty perfect” by Hollywood – even after she dropped one of her six while crossing the tent.
He told her: “You could have left them in there for another five seconds for a little more flash of colour but you had a beautiful design. Nice and even.”
Referring to Hollywood, Fielding told the contestants: “I imagine they all have to be uniform otherwise the Grinch will go insane.”
In a challenging festive-themed showstopper, the bakers were asked to craft a cake that looked like a Christmas present but which revealed a hidden image when sliced.
Leith said she was looking for cakes with “exquisite” decorations and Beedle’s creation did not disappoint.
Cut by Hollywood, Beedle’s holly-green effort revealed a penguin and two Christmas trees.
He said it had “a real depth to it”, noting the sponge was “beautifully baked”.
Charles, who came fifth in the first series to air on Channel 4, was flummoxed by the laufabraud and left a number of his bakes soft and undercooked.
Atkins, who earned the title of oldest Bake Off contestant when she appeared on last year’s series aged 71, was praised for her thick biscuits that combined oozing treacle with pungent ginger.
Aeronautical engineer Smyth, who was runner-up in 2016, suffered an overbaked showstopper.
Speaking afterwards, Beedle said: “I loved every minute of my time in the tent so to be invited back was a real thrill.
“The challenges and timings were just as crazy as before but I think we all knew what we were in for so had a good laugh.
“Paul surprised me by giving me a big hug the first time he walked into the tent.
“It was lovely to see him again and, dare I say, Christmas seemed to mellow him.”
The episode concluded with a surprise appearance from glam-rock band The Darkness, who played their 2003 hit Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End).
The second of Channel 4’s two seasonal Bake Off specials welcomes four more former contestants back to the tent and will air on New Year’s Day.