The Great British Bake-Off: 5.02 Biscuit Week
With more snap than a cooled gingerbread man it was Biscuit Week on The Great British Bake Off. Though forget about well executed digestives or sublime garibaldis as each contestant was out to impress with their own twist on the humble biccie. Chillies, 3D biscuit scenes and a controversy over shop-bought fondant icing proved that this was more than just a baking show.
The first challenge was to create 36 identical savoury biscuits which sounded simple enough until you considered extravagant flavour combinations. Jordan was incorporating not one but three chillies varieties in his sourdough chilli cheese biscuit which left Mary Berry looking decidedly worried, wouldn't you be with him in your kitchen? Enwezor was incorporating three types of flour while Diana had gone for Parmesan Triangles which seemed to miss the biscuit brief completely. Kate included a slice of apple on top of her biscuits which, rather expectantly, had left an undercooked layer underneath which Mary was ready to expose. Others kept it re-assuredly simple, like Norman with his farthing biscuits that looked as if they were shop bought yet of course they were not.
A lot has been made of Martha's age and at seventeen she has a wise head on those youthful shoulders as she confidently instructed us to poke holes in our dough before baking to avoid them puffing up. Like a worryingly young Delia she was quietly confident with her jammie dodger-esque goats cheese creations and why not. The judges were impressed proving that if you are good enough, you are old enough. Then there is Richard who always seems surprised when given compliments yet his rosemary seeded crackers hit the spot.
Then the technical challenge where the devil was certainly in the detail, or lack thereof. Each contestant was to make 18 Florentines which even left Martha looking perplexed, that was until Mel whispered that she was actually doing it right. For those unaware, the Florentine is made from setting nuts and cherries into a caramel disc but how finely were the nuts to be cut, how thick were the biscuits and how do you get the chocolate ripple effect on the back? So many questions, so little time. Contestants looked to each other in befuddlement with a couple taking risks that would cost them later, Enwezor would certainly regret using his trusty cutter.
The third and final challenge was the cruellest of all. Create a 3D scene out of biscuits that can support themselves, only for them to last for mere seconds before us judges snap pieces off. Lovely. Unlike the previous challenge many contestants revelled in this, a chance to demonstrate their design skills. Norman brought in his own aluminium cutters while Chetna has already mastered the self-supporting carousel at home. Nancy went for a classic Hansel and Gretel scene out of gingerbread that did exactly what it promised, no wild gimmicks for her. Richard looked right at home (or should that be work?), nonchalantly retrieving the pencil from atop his ear to precisely mark points at which the biscuits for his pirate scene would interlock. It almost looked rudimentary for him yet Diana seemed to be struggling with her train which included childish-looking pinwheels and parts that simply did not want to fit together. However, Iain looked to have redeemed himself with a visually effective and actually tasty Wild West scene.
Marks were awarded on artistic impression so Kate's beautiful and bold Tea Time scene went down very well indeed. Perhaps the showstopper was Luis' George and the Dragon which included the simple yet effective feature of interlocking pieces yet kudos for the fiery taste of chilli in his dragon biscuit. Meanwhile, Jordan's genuinely scary Monster scene perhaps demonstrated his current state of mind as he began referring to himself in the third person. Then there was Enwezor who seemed to be on the edge throughout the show. His spaceship looked impressive enough yet when pressed about the fondant icing he confessed that it was shop bought. Cue a look of utter disgust from Mary and the writing was on the wall as bendy biscuits sealed his fate. After winning the technical challenge and impressing throughout, Richard was crowned Star Baker which wasn't at all surprising.
Let that be a lesson to us all, never confess to shop bought items and always ensure your biscuit has a snap. Next week, bread.