Baking GBBO

GBBO Episode 2 - Biscuit Week: 'It's Crunch Time'

Crunch time, and on the second week of the bake-off our bakers faced three biscuit based challenges designed to test their skill with the crisp and the snap. This week we were sadly Sue-less in the tent, and we missed her cheeky, acerbic wit. But Mel made a good attempt at being both halves of the Mel and Sue sandwich, bringing her own morale-boosting  style of anxious mother hen crossed with naughty school girl to encourage the bakers. Who was going to snap first?

Iced biscuits – as crisp as Paul Hollywood’s hair

Twenty four iced biscuits were required. Each had to be identical, perfectly shaped, baked and iced in the bakers’ shape of choice. Pouty Candice, being Candice, decided that 24 wasn’t enough and went for 48 which were to be sandwiched together. The finished heart shapes “look hideous but taste amazing,” said Paul. We also discovered that Candice has a pug called Dennis and a love of vibrant lipstick shades. “I’m going to wear red for bread week,” she declared. Well that’s something to look forward to.

Ever so cool Selasi (soon to be slightly hot under the collar Selasi) sailed through this challenge, revving up the judges tastebuds with his Wheelie Hot Biscuits. But it was Tom who earned a Paul handshake with his Chai Frappelattechino Biscuits shaped and iced, of course, like coffee cups. Having made 300 practice biscuits at home he had earned Paul’s “Nice one Tom.”

Lovely Louise and delightfully dotty Val both managed to drop their biscuits on the floor. Louise’s little flock of sheep-shaped bara-brith style biscuits didn’t get the Hollywood seal of approval. “If you were going for soft then they’re really soft. If you’re going for biscuit you’ve failed,” he pronounced sternly. And Val was damned by faint praise from Mary. “I’m sure you can pipe,” said the queen of baking. “But none of this is finished well.”

Being biscuit week, dunking was a hot topic. Following ‘dunkgate’ last week, when a horrified Mary in her best cut glass tones told Paul “We don’t do that in the South”, Paul began the show with a fervent wish. “I hope and pray that they give me a big cup of tea so that I can dunk,” he grinned mischievously. And Sue, whose only appearance on the show was out on location investigating the history of the dunk, discovered that in this country, dunking became popular in the mid 19th century and is “as British as a nice cup of Rosie Lee.” That settles that then.

Home Chef can help…

  • Sieve - Essential for creating lightness in your baking. Running flour through a sieve adds air and removes lumps. You can’t bake well without one. 
  • Spatula - Another of those important, inexpensive but necessary tools that will give your baking a professional edge. Home Chef have lots for you to choose from. A tip – make sure to have a selection of sizes for tackling different jobs.  

Viennese whirls – a waltz in the park?

Mary only gave the poor bakers an hour and half for a difficult technical challenge that involved creating 12 Viennese whirls that had to be buttery, crumbly and melt in the mouth. This proved tricky for some and the tent echoed to the sounds of much sucking of teeth and blowing out of cheeks. Val had just one aim. “I must try not to drop them,” she muttered.

Getting the mixture to the right temperature for piping proved tricky. “Do you need a pair of warm hands on your bag” asked a solicitous Mel of Rav who was having trouble piping his whirls. A surprised and slightly flustered Rav agreed that this would be helpful, and Mel duly complied.

Even suave Selasi faltered, with his mixture being too stiff to pipe, forcing a re-beat. His finished whirls were collapsed and too crumbly and he finished in bottom place. The king of cool was not impressed with himself. “I don’t know what to say. Just very embarrassing,” he announced somewhat shame facedly. Never mind Selasi – we’ll love you even more now you’ve proved you’re mortal.

Like abs on a well-toned torso, with Viennese whirls, definition seems to be the key to success. Clear, well-shaped swirls were required across the top of the biscuits and country Kate rose to the challenge with “Absolutely beautiful” whirls that delighted the judges earning her first place. “I’m thrilled to bits,” she declared.

Home chef can help…

  • Round cutters - Making biscuits, canapes, pastry or icing shapes? Then you’ll need a set of cutters to help you shape your creations.
  • Kilner jars - The bakers are provided with all their ingredients in Kilner Jars. But you can use yours for a huge variety of other storage tasks – just pick a selection of sizes from Home Chef and you’ll find lots of good uses for them. Mine are currently full of homemade damson gin.  

Gingerbread story – a sorry tale for some

The showstopper was a corker this week, offering us not only the chance to see the bakers design, bake and erect edifices that had to stand and deliver, but also insights into their lives. Gingerbread story time shone a light on some hitherto hidden aspects of our bakers.

We discovered that Tom had had a life threatening moment on a mountain and that Candice was brought up in a pub. Ginger-nut engineer Andrew, in his element, created a complicated gingerbread depiction of his days at Cambridge university.  Both Benjamina and Val had been influenced by New York, with Val creating a gingerbread version of her family history. Unfortunately, at the last moment, her construction crumbled with the Statue of Liberty sinking quietly to the floor. “She gave up, bless her” said Val sadly.

Last week’s smiley Jane, this week turned into worried Jane. Seemingly permanently on the edge of tears, she declared “God I hate gingerbread” as she struggled with her spicy but too soft gingerbread version of Hastings Old Town complete with fishing nets and shops. Rav had a burning issue and Michael declared his Lapland scene as “Santa’s workshop from hell.”

But it was lovely Louise who had a really terrible day with her gingerbread wedding collapsing in a heap. “I came, I tried, I had a disaster,” she declared, but she won hearts, and Mary’s approval, by being cheery to the end and carrying it all off with a big smile. We trust that her actual wedding, due shortly, will be less traumatic.

Pouty Candice on the other hand, triumphed. Her gingerbread version of the pub that was her home, complete with pool table and sticky ginger cake carpet, gained high praise from the judges. “I think it’s superb,” said a clearly impressed Paul who awarded her Star Baker.

Is it just me? But I think that maybe country Kate was short changed for Star Baker. Following her winning whirls in the technical, her gingerbread brownie camp took delighted Mary back to her young days, holding three fingers up and chanting the brownie promise. The charming final gingerbread story was beautifully piped and finished, but, sadly, Paul struggled to find the ginger taste. Such fine details make all the difference in the bake-off.

Next week it’s bread week and we are promised some of the toughest challenges ever from the legend that is Paul Hollywood. Let’s hope the bakers can rise to the challenge. Sue will also be back in the tent. Hurrah - we missed you.

Home Chef can help…

  • Rolling pin - Traditional wooden rolling pins are used in the bake-off, but different materials are available. Each to their own. You can choose your favourite from the Home Chef website. 
  • Electronic scales - In other types of cooking you can approximate when you weigh. Not in baking. Exact weighing is required for the best results – electronic scales are accurate and easy to use.  
Follow our GBBO blog every week on the website and on our Home Chef Facebook page – @HomeChefUK. Don’t forget to post your ideas and comments on the unfolding Bake-Off story, we’d love to hear from you.  


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