Mary-Anne shows the world how you win Bake Off in five steps

She may have just missed out on the winning spot in series two, but returning Bake Off contestant Mary-Anne Boermans came back with a bang as she nailed the show’s Christmas Day special.

Joined by other former hopefuls Ali Imdad, Cathryn Dresser and the nation’s favourite Norman Calder, she breezed through all three challenges with the sort of festive creations that left us dribbling over the TV screen.

So get your aprons on and your rolling pins out, because we are about to show you how she did it…

1. Make food that looks like other food.

Mary-Anne won the first coveted Paul Hollywood handshake of the show in the signature challenge to bake 24 biscuits to decorate a Christmas tree.

Previously struggling when it came to dainty detail, her painstakingly-decorated Christmas pudding-lookalikes were described as “divine” by Mary and “spot-on” by Paul.

Ali also did especially well by glazing his date-stuffed cookies with melted boiled sweets to make them look like actual baubles. They may have required a hammer to get into, but we still want them right now.

2. Don’t stab the presenter.

Time was of the essence when it came to the technical challenge of creating a choux wreath, drizzled in chocolate and festooned with edible snowflakes.

Mary-Anne paced herself and kept her cool, while poor Cathryn got so flustered that she accidentally jabbed Sue in the hand with a piping bag as they rushed to fill her buns.

While Cathryn’s final product just overtook Mary-Anne’s in the scoring, Mary-Anne’s relative chill should be taken as an inspiration for all.

3. Just, breathe.

Things got a bit emotional in the show-stopper challenge as the foursome baked their last ever cakes for Paul and Mary. Specifically, a three-tiered Christmas scene cake.

The pressure got the better of Cathryn again and she actually lost a tier of her fruit cake – later discovered in Ali’s freezer – and ended up without enough time to finish decorating it.

It got a little bit intense for everyone, but Mary-Anne kept a level head, meticulously planning every stage of her bake.

4. Keep it simple.

After all that drama, it was Mary-Anne’s show-stopper that really did steal the show.

Rather than adding to the stress with making a myriad of icings and fondants (which made Cathryn run out of time) and over-complicating the flavours (which proved unsuccessful for Ali), Mary-Anne went for the oh-so chic “naked cake” idea, letting the flavours speak for themselves.

She concentrated on making perfect joconde sponges in those fail-safe festive flavours of chocolate and orange, and the judges loved it.

5. Jazz up you bakes with some foreign flavours.

The alternative icing on the cake – literally – was Mary-Anne’s topping of handmade speculaas cookies, inspired by her husband’s Dutch heritage.

Paul described the masterpiece as a “knock-out” and Mary confirmed that it was “definitely ‘spectaculaar’.

“The flavours are superb,” she added, “there isn’t a single one you failed on.”

The Great British Bake Off Christmas special will return to BBC One for its second and final part at 7pm on Monday.

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