It’s week two of The Great British Baking Show and that means biscuits — the cookie kind for those unfamiliar with British-isms. (Numpty’s another fun one to try out in conversation sometime!) So let’s head back inside what has to be a stifling hot tent — due to the use of 11 ovens all at one time — and see how our lovely bakers are faring. (Incidentally, for those playing the GBBS drinking game, biscuit week means drink every time you hear the word “crunch.”)
Will Marie, our Star Baker from last week, still lead the pack? Will Nadiya give in to those brimming tears and let them spill over? Will I stop forgetting who Sandy is? Let’s find out…
Now don’t expect anyone to be standing around lamenting on the trials of last week or reflecting on childhood baking traumas. The GBBS doesn’t have time for the sentimental nonsense as some reality TV shows, so we get straight to the cookie-cutting action.
This week’s signature challenge is to create 24 identical biscotti. In addition to being the name of a cookie, the word is also Italian for twice baked. Guess how many times you bake these bad boys? Here’s Mary with some insight: “It’s got to be dry the whole way through, yet you’ve got to be able to get your teeth through it.” Dry and edible. Um, yum?
Like with last week’s Madeira cake, the signature bake gives the contestants the opportunity to add their own flavor to the mix. Learning absolutely nothing from Stu’s run-in with beetroot, Alvin’s adding a fruit no one’s ever heard of to his batter (and by no one, I mean Mrs. Mary Berry, the ultimate baking authority). Jackfuit, anyone? Ever the optimistic ray of sunshine, Mary tells Alvin she’s looking forward to something “quite different she hasn’t tasted before.”
With two hours to concoct the perfect crunch, the bakers get to rolling. Dorret is adding sugar crystals to a biscuit that already has the potential of breaking teeth, while herb-loving Ian is sprinkling in some rosemary.
We’re informed the first bake must be perfectly timed. (Can we pause to appreciate how awesome the inward-sliding oven doors are on this show?) As Tamal takes his biscotti out of the oven, he muses, “They look like really beautiful ciabatta, if only that’s what we were making.” Gotta love those Brits and their self-deprecating sense of humor.
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Don’t you love when a lesson from the kitchen can apply to life generally? Cooling is vital so as to avoid crumbling. Stay cool or crumble, kids.
It’s nearly judgment time. The bakers hasten to glaze with icing, add in forgotten-but-promised ingredients, dunk biscuits in chocolate, and then strategically stack to hide imperfections.
Up step Mary and Paul for some taste-testing. There’s a resounding “crunch” for Mat’s, and praise for Nadiya, who — in perhaps the best facial expression ever captured by camera — manages to express disbelief, joy, and overwhelming gratitude all at once. Still no tears, though. Dorret’s crystallized fruit packs too much punch; as Paul puts it, a trip “down the dentist” might be necessary. Ian’s herb-y inclination pays off as Paul declares the hint of rosemary “fantastic.”
NEXT: Time to get technical