This week’s Great British Bake off was all about biscuits. But not just any old biscuit (well, unless you are Norman, who made the only un-flavoured biscuit in round one’s savoury biscuit signature challenge), but biscuits to have with cheese (a good idea from the GBBO producers to move away from sweet biscuits for this round), a technical challenge to make florentines, and a showstopper 3D challenge.
Despite Norman’s simple bake this week, Paul was impressed enough to shake his hand, proving that the combination of flour and fat can be delicious even without the fancy flavourings of some of the other bakers. Diana made a puff pastry for her savoury cheese creations, and youngster Martha created a savoury jammy dodger with biscuits sandwiching goats cheese and caramelised onion.
Last week’s star baker Nancy, who you may remember bought in a homemade guillotine to ensure her Victoria sponges were cut equally, this week brought in a scary device to puncture holes uniformly into biscuit dough. It’s getting hard to imagine what medieval-looking devices she’ll be bring into the kitchen next week …
Then viewers saw a welcome return of the historical foodie segment, where Mel got to learn all about the ice cream cone: invented to stop people catching diseases from its predecessor, a re-usable glass bowl which was licked clean by each customer. Yuck.
The technical challenge for week 2 was the creation of an identical batch of florentine biscuits: glace fruit and nuts held together with a thin web of caramel biscuit, and coated on one side with dark chocolate. Clearly a more complex affair than last week’s cherry cake, and the recipe was certainly unfamiliar to many of the bakers.
Every single plate of florentines, when presented to Mary and Paul for inspection, looked different. On some the layer of chocolate was not generous enough, or incorrectly patterned. On others the biscuit was too thick, or not of the correct texture or colour. But there were no great disasters or triumphs, and and so we moved on to the final round.
The showstoppers do seem to be stepping up a gear this year, with some incredible designs created in that small marquee. The theme for last night was a 3D creation made from biscuits, and we saw mermaids, monsters, pirates, dragons and spaceships. Both Mary and Paul munched their way through dinosaurs, cowboys and poodles without compunction, but were stopped in their tracks by the revelation that Enwezor had in fact not made the yellow fondant which glued together the layers of his 3D spaceship. Mary’s face was the epitome of matronly disappointment, and it was clear from that moment that he would be evicted from the tent.
Luckily, Richard the builder’s pirate creation was magnificent and he undoubtedly deserved the crown of star baker this week: interlocking pieces of sea creature which fit together perfectly to make, in Paul’s own words, an “ingenious” creation.
Next week is a Hollywood special: bread week. Rye bread rolls, ciabatta and a filled centrepiece loaf. Our stomachs are rumbling already.