Its crunch time in the great British bake off tent. With Mel flying solo this week the witty double innuendos. First up the signature bake which was to produce 24 iced biscuits. Biscuits as crisp as Paul Hollywood’s hair were requested, all of which had to be identical. Paul was looking for biscuits that he could dunk in his tea once again.
Some designs really stood out such as Andrew’s beehive biscuits, or Tom’s chai frappelatteccino biscuits shaped like coffee cups. Selasi made some “wheely” biscuits with scotch bonnet chillies in the shape of his favoured motorcycle. Kate making lavender and bergamot biscuits shaped as butterflies. Her main aim was to be a happy baker to make happy biscuits and she managed to win over Paul despite him not liking either of her main ingredients.
Kate making lavender and bergamot biscuits shaped as butterflies. Her main aim was to be a happy baker to make happy biscuits and she managed to win over Paul despite him not liking either of her main ingredients. Michael’s malt, chocolate and orange iced beer pint biscuits went down well with judges as his biscuits were crisp and uniform. Rav’s coconut and lime flavoured bunting biscuits with the Union Jack iced on top, matched the bunting around the tent. Candice doubled her workload to make 48 biscuits as she had a top and a bottom – double layered heart shaped biscuit filled with salted caramel. She didn’t manage to finish them but they tasted great.
Many bakers began to flag with the massive amount of piping required, especially those who chose to flood their icing. With the exception of chilled Selasi who seemed to finish way before everyone else and just wandered around the tent before helping Louise display her sheep biscuits.
Sue went off to find out the history of biscuit dunking which dated back to the Ancient Greeks, although the biscuits (Paximathia) lacked taste unless dunked in soup. Biscotti were baked as army rations in Ancient Rome before being taken on by the rich during the Renaissance period when dipped in Vin Santo. Initially biscuits were made for dunking into alcohol, including wine. Victorians first started dunking biscuits into tea however not in public as etiquette deemed this unsuitable. Dunking biscuits into your cup of rosy lee became synonymous with British culture in the mid-19th century. A pure British joy.
The technical challenge was once again a Mary recipe to make 12 Viennese Whirls filled with buttercream and jam. Short and crumbly biscuits that must have the swirl pattern intact, which a handy tip from Mary is to place in the fridge before baking to firm up. Not everyone chose to chill theirs which resulted in very flat biscuits which lacked shape. A lot had a problem with the mixture being too stiff and getting stuck in the piping bag. Kate, Jane and Benjamina took the top three places whilst bottom was Selasi, Louise and Michael in 11th, 10th and 9threspectively.
Oh dear things were not looking good for my favourite Selasi bringing up the bottom of the table but an impressive showstopper could easily redeem him. Poor Louise would need to really out do herself in the showstopper as her sheep biscuits were not identical and she placed tenth in the technical. Andrew, Candice and Kate all went into the second day in contention for star baker, and in my opinion Benjamina was up there too.
The showstopper was a gingerbread story, which needed to be 30cm tall and tell a story about the bakers themselves including 8 characters or objects, all within four hours of baking time. It had to taste good, be structurally sound and also depict a story.
Val stuck with a traditional gingerbread that she has made for more than 40 years, to depict her family roots from the Windmills of Holland, to the Empire State and Statue of Liberty in New York along with the pits of Yorkshire.
Louise made a gingerbread wedding to represent her future wedding, with a bride and groom, vicar and gravestones – this did not bode well. Selasi also made a representation of the church he attended where he grew up in Ghana, with boiled sweet stained glass windows. His recipe contained no treacle or golden syrup instead using ginger and honey. Unlike Selasi most bakers opted for the traditional gingerbread recipe with treacle and ground ginger except for Candice who also added a gingerbread cake to represent the sticky carpet of her pub scene, from growing up. Jane built a fishing scene from Hastings where she grew up. Michael opted for reliving his childhood dream of visiting Santa in Lapland, where he once made gingerbread, aged 9. Kate’s gingerbread was based on a brownie camp, featuring her two children. Tom told the near death tale when along with his best friend Pod they got lost up a mountain. Andrew’s student days punting in Cambridge consisted of 37 individual pieces of gingerbread. Benjamina also went to the USA opting for a representation of the Chrysler building from a family holiday. Raj’s Christmas scene had a Ferris wheel, Christmas trees and his family, although included a slightly burnt Christmas tree. Bakers opted for either caramel or royal icing for glue. Louise and Val’s gingerbread stories seemed to go from bad to worse and at the very last minute both collapsed as Mel called time.
Kate’s intricate piping looked stunning but her gingerbread lacked any snap and any gingerbread. Soft gingerbread also proved to be Jane’s downfall. Both Selasi and Rav failed to hit the ginger taste. As I predicted last week Andrew did very well, utilising his engineering skills and his gingerbread tasted just like Paul’s mums’ gingerbread. Michael however had the best tasting biscuit, just a too simplistic design that wasn’t executed fully. Best design and execution definitely went to Candice for her multi ginger pub, including ginger cake carpet and lime jelly pool table.
Poor Mel had to be both good cop and bad cop this week and it was no surprise that Louise was the one to leave the tent this week. Both Mary and Paul were again worried about Val so I do feel her days are numbered, although her sister will be happy to know how scrumptious she was! As for star baker it was a close contest between Andrew and Candice, with the pub scene winning through for Candice. Next week is bread week, and into Paul Hollywood’s territory. I think Tom, who thus far has impressed with his flavour combinations may do well and also maybe Andrew again if there is a design element.