IT WAS an unlucky final round for the two Limerick contestants taking part in the Great Irish Bake Off, as Monaghan woman Cathy McKenna was instead crowned Ireland’s champion amateur baker.
Fighting for the top prize on Sunday night were South Circular Road financial advisor Emer Hough and Fedamore teacher Clare Ryan.
In the grand finale, the three finalists were given their most complex task; to bake a deconstructed apple crumble to Michelin-star standard, followed by the show-stopper — the construction of a 20-inch tall, three-tier wedding cake.
Clare, who is a teacher at Thomond Primary School, finished her campaign with a wedding cake that consisted of a dark and white chocolate biscuit cake layer with raspberry ganache; a coconut cake with blueberry and passion fruit curd; and a third layer of peanut cake with peanut caramel filling.
And for Emer’s final attempt to woo the judges, her three layers consisted of chocolate and salted caramel; a lemon and blueberry tier; and a “rainbow” tier.
However, despite a positive final showdown and eight gruelling weeks of baking, the two Limerick girls did not return home with the Great Irish Bake Off title.
After the decision, Emer said: “Unfortunately today didn’t go well but that doesn’t cancel out all the experiences that came before that. I am delighted I came, I really am.”
Commenting on the final bake-off result, Clare said: “I’d definitely make a wedding cake again but just not one in five hours!”
Speaking of the decision, judge Paul Kelly said: “That was one of the toughest decisions we have ever made in a final, it was so close.”
Days before the final, Emer said she was expecting the final showdown to be “nail-biting”. She said that her local rival Clare was also a close companion throughout the series.
“Clare is a really lovely person and I get on really, really well with her. It was lovely to be able to moan about the commute every week! Anna would say ‘Ready, steady, bake!’ and then three hours later, there’s Clare with something amazing. Every single time, she really pulls it out of the bag. Clare’s an incredibly talented baker.”
This weekend, the Great Irish Bake Off will return for a Christmas special, which will feature Leanne Moore.