'The Great British Bake Off' judge Paul Hollywood: ‘Choosing the winner was tough!’

Noel Fielding, Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith and Matt Lucas in The Great British Bake Off
Noel Fielding, Paul Hollywood, Dame Prue Leith and Matt Lucas get ready to crown the winner of The Great British Bake Off. (Image credit: Channel 4)

The Great British Bake Off has seen some extraordinary culinary concoctions this year from intricate sugar domes to fiddly German delicacies and tricky terrines.

Now, following 10 weeks of incredible baking, the three remaining contestants, Chigs, Crystelle, and Guiseppe, have just one more chance to win over discerning judges Paul Hollywood and Dame Prue Leith as they make a special carrot cake for the Signature, a Belgian treat for the Technical and an epic banquet for the Showstopper. But who will emerge victorious?

Here, Paul and Dame Prue tell us more...

'The Great British Bake Off' has been amazing this year. How did you find the final?

Leith: “We had such good finalists and it was tense in the tent. But when you’re filming in a bubble, you get close to everyone, so it was a great supportive atmosphere. After we finished filming and went home, it felt strange after spending so much time together, I did feel a bit misplaced for a while!”

Tell us about the challenges you set…

Hollywood: “The first challenge is a carrot cake, the technical challenge is one of mine, and the showstopper is a crazy one to end the series – four sweet and savoury treats for a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party showing four different baking disciplines.”

What were you looking for?

Leith: “Paul looks for finesse, and for me, it’s texture and flavour that are the key points. As you get to the final, you know they’re all going to be pretty good so you end up judging on a minuscule point of decoration. It’s about how they do things imaginatively but the taste still has to be good too.” 

Chigs, Crystelle, Giuseppe and Jurgen in The Great British Bake Off.

Semi-finalists Chigs, Crystelle, Giuseppe and Jürgen in 'The Great British Bake Off'. (Image credit: Channel 4)

How difficult was it to choose the winner?

Hollywood: “To pick the three bakers to go into the final was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make since Bake Off began. The semi-finalists were all star bakers and technically, their skills were very close. Jürgen and Giuseppe are the most natural bakers I’ve met and together with Chigs and Crystelle, they were an amazing quartet. So it was a tough call to let one baker go at the semi-finals, and then to actually choose the winner, it got tougher…”

What have you enjoyed most about this series?

Hollywood: “For me, the most memorable bake was the chouxnut one in pastry week. They’re my favourite thing to eat, it was a bit indulgent! Also, in the same episode, we had Crystelle’s curry terrine Showstopper. It was exquisite, looked fantastic and had amazing flavours with clever decoration.”

Leith: “It’s just been so good judging all the bakers and seeing their different personalities as we’ve gone through the series. They’ve all been so individually skilled, which has made it interesting to watch, and for me, interesting to taste!” 

When can I watch the final of 'The Great British Bake Off'?

The grand final of the baking contest will air on Tuesday, Nov. 23 on Channel 4 at 8pm and it will be available afterwards on All4.

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.