Published on December 7th, 2017 | by Theo Nel
Meet the finalists for this year’s The Great South African Bake Off
Series three of The Great South African Bake Off has become one of the most popular shows on the BBC channels this year so far. The success of the hit global format on Tuesdays at 8pm has seen the BBC Lifestyle channel grow its weekday slot average by 140 per cent over the year*.
It’s been a whirlwind of flour, eggs and a lot of sugar, but series three has so far had its fair share of baking highs and lows. From Anne Hirsch’s pun-tastic presenting skills, to Bryan’s spilling of biscuits across the floor of the Bake Off tent to Alice’s devilish ‘death by chocolate’ cake, what could the finale of this series possibly have in store?
Now after eight weeks of non-stop challenges, it comes down to three bakers battling it out to be crowned South Africa’s best amateur baker 2017. It really is bake or break time.
Meet finalist 1 – Desmond Solomon, Johannesburg
As the oldest contestant in series three, Desmond really does prove that experience pays off when it comes to skills in the kitchen. Forever cool and calm, unless mixing a bit of his Lebanese spices into the recipe, Desmond has won audiences over with his funny charm and delicious baking capabilities.
Desmond, if described as a bake, in his opinion would be described more like bread –more specifically a brioche, which he says is enriched with life experiences, but tender to the crumb.
Best bake: Lebanese croquembouche with chocolate, orange & halva (week 8 showstopper)
Star baker: Once – Pie and Tart week (week 3)
Baking fail: A raw six strand braided honey bread (week 5 technical challenge)
On being in the final Desmond said, “When I first applied to be on the show, I thought that I would perhaps make it past week one, but never thought that I would get to the final! I have had to pinch myself a couple of times when in the Bake Off tent having fun and laughing with Anne and Lentswe. I can’t believe that I am still here and seem to be doing well. It’s been such a wonderful experience and I am really trying to brace myself for whatever challenges our judges Tjaart and Zola will present us with in the finale.”
Meet finalist 2 – Simmi Ramnarian, Durban
Simmi has proved that she is the perfect blend of South African and Indian cooking styles and cuisines. Packed full with baking knowledge and a master connoisseur when it comes to big, bold and tantalising flavours, Simmi has treated Zola and Tjaart to a vast array of baked treats throughout the series so far. Simmi has become everyone’s best friend as the competition has progressed with her warm heart and self-assured manner in the Bake Off tent.
Simmi, if she were a cake, would describe herself as a honey drizzled vanilla cake as it is sweet and simple.
Best bake: Cumin bread pot filled with plaited dinner rolls (week 5 Showstopper)
Star baker: Once – Semi-final (week 8)
Baking fail: ‘Little baby’ uncooked custard slices (week 4 technical challenge)
On being in the final, Simmi said, “I am totally thrilled to have made it to the final. I think that I am proof of the fact that you should take risks and do more of what you love in life. I have really enjoyed my time on the show so far and have felt like we have all come together as one Bake Off family. I am pleased to be going into the final with Desmond and Bianca as I know we will all help each other to get over the nerves and just enjoy our last time in the tent”.
Finalist 3 – Bianca Breytenbach, Cape Town
Bianca is perhaps the underdog going into the final this week. With a couple of close calls in the Bake Off tent this series, and funny facial expressions which could rival presenter Lentswe Bhengu’s – Bianca has captivated audiences with her unorthodox baking style. From mastering all things retro and ‘kitch’ to her falling short with her madeleine’s in chocolate week and getting everyone worried when white chocolate started being flung around the plate in a ‘decorative’ style. Bianca has kept a smile on everyone’s face with her panicked but hilarious baking this series.
If described as a cake, Bianca says she would have lots of different jewel coloured layers on the inside, be covered in a dark chocolate ganache and decorated with loads of gold sequins.
Best bake: Ndebele swiss roll with marula cream (week 7 signature bake)
Star baker: Once -Retro week (week 7)
Baking fail: Her flooding apple pie with probably the soggiest bottom in Bake Off history (week 3 showstopper)
On being in the final, Bianca said, “WOW. I am still in shock that I have made it here to the final. I have had such an experience being part of series three of SA Bake Off and sure have had some close calls. I am excited to see what the final has in store as I definitely still have a few tricks up my sleeve to impress Zola and Tjaart. I’m just sad that the experience has to come to an end as it’s just been so much fun.”
The Great South African Bake Off demonstrates BBC Worldwide’s ongoing commitment to providing high quality local programming. Together, Rapid Blue and BBC Worldwide will also be producing a second local commission with the hugely anticipated return of Come Dine With Me South Africa for a fourth series in 2018.