The Great British Bake Off: 9.01 Biscuit Week
You know summer is coming to an end when we huddle up on the sofa in hoodies awaiting another season of The Great British Bake Off. Just like a brew and a nice slice of cake, the show has become a comforting distraction to modern life. If recent seasons are anything to go by there will be gaffes, some of the contestants may receive a Hollywood handshake and some may become immortalised in memes. Let's just hope Prue can keep the identity of the winner under wraps a while longer this time.
The very first signature challenge was reassuringly personal; twenty four regional British biscuits. First up was full-time Mum Briony and her Apple Cider Empire Biscuits were deemed the best shortbread on show. Brittany-born Manon impressed with her melt in the mouth Hazelnut Cornish Shortbread, her classical French training would soon set her apart. Former Teacher Imelda started well and was close to a handshake with her healthy, wholesome Cherry and White Chocolate Oatmeal Biscuits. Mental Health Specialist Kim Joy's Orange Blossom York Biscuits were deemed beautifully balanced. Even Prue decided to leave with another of Banker Antony's Turmeric and Caraway Goosnargh Cakes sandwiched with mango chilli jam.
Those that needed to improve included Product Promoter Karen who finished her Mace, Coriander and Nutmeg Yorkshire Perkins early enough though Paul wasn't blown away. Stay-at-home Dad Dan had his Lemon and Strawberry Shrewsburys that looked delightful yet were chewy rather than crunchy. Even an extra Masala Chai Devon Flat from Project Manager Ruby failed to excuse how bone dry they were. Nuclear Scientist Rahul fused Indian and Scottish cuisine with his Fennel and Coconut Pitcaithly Bannock which lacked the bang they promised. Civil Servant/DJ Luke's Yorkshire Lime Gingernuts lacked the right mix and Welsh Sailor Jon's Aberffraw Creams were underbaked and bland. Then there was Artist Terry who had clearly bitten off more than he could chew with his Lake District Ginger Shortbread that looked rough, ready and not much else.
The technical was a classic from everyone's childhood; the iconic Wagon Wheel. Many have had one, some may have even tried to pimp theirs to full-size but a batch of eight was cruel. The jam, melted chocolate and marshmallow had to be the exact consistency and, as per usual, it was guesswork as to how long the baking time was. The bottom pair were Antony and Imelda whose efforts were deemed rush jobs while top of the class were Manon, Briony and Ruby for their neat, shiny wheels.
Clearly social media has had an effect on the show (aside from Prue's premature tweeting) as the showstopper was a Biscuit Selfie Portrait. No, seriously, they had to depict themselves in biscuit form. Each brought out their creative side as the tent later resembled an art class with faces made of marshmallow, icing and chocolate.
Jon went for 'A Sailing Selfie by the Sea' of Orange and Cinnamon which tasted better than it looked. Briony went for a scene from her hometown of Bristol flavoured with Lemon and Poppy Seed which was pleasant enough. Rahul went back to his 'First Spring in the UK' armed with blueprints for his ambitious Gingerbread masterpiece which resembled pop art. Ruby went even further for her 'Gingerbread Marathon Selfie' but for all her running around the resemblance went missing, as did the flavour.
Antony scaled the heights with his 'Kilimanjaro Selfie' out of Ginger and Cinnamon. Karen went for the divisive combination of Rosewater and Cardamom for her French 'Holiday Selfie' yet the flavours were decidedly safe. Dan's 'New Dad in Palm Springs' out of Almond Sugar Cookies tasted and looked delightful though the baby did appear like a cross between a prawn and a jelly baby.
For all the talk of Luke's 'What Happens in Vegas', his Orange and Cinnamon effort looked bold but was underbaked. After the previous two rounds, Terry needed to impress and went for a mouldable face-mask for his 'Brandy Snap Selfie'. The finished result would scare young children yet the impressionist selfie looked stunning, even more noteworthy considering how difficult brandy snaps are to work with.
Kim-Joy visited Japan for her 'Me at Miyajima Shrine' flavoured with Cinnamon, Cloves and Ginger which needed even more spice. Then there was Manon whose Matcha infused 'Japanese Selfie' wowed the judges again with her fantastically neat, balanced creation. Hell, it was good enough to put on display and easily enough to crown her Star Baker. Imelda had looked visibly more nervous as the show went on and her Lemon and Ginger 'Seaside Selfie' was deemed stale, with that she was sent home.