The Great British Bake Off: Biscuit Week
August 29, 2018 7:17 AM - Season 9, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Back for its ninth season, and its second after moving from the BBC to Channel 4. Twelve new bakers face, unusually for week 1, challenges based not on cakes but on biscuits. Technical Challenge: Wagon Wheels.
posted by Major Clanger (37 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm really not sure about Noel's haircut.

So, I'm really curious how Manon will do - she appears to have the baking chops to do well, but is she going to get hung up on making British items in the technicals that she isn't familiar with.

Otherwise it seems like the tent is _very_ young this time around. I suppose it isn't, not really, but the under 30 set is pretty well represented. Average just over 36.

Nice opening bit, although I had only found out about the controversy recently. It didn't make much of a splash over here, naturally.
posted by Kyol at 7:48 AM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Are wagon wheels still popular in the UK? I loved them as a child but haven't seen them in a long time. Also after the biscuit first round I started to feel like some of these people just be professional as some of those looked professionally done. I'm still getting used to nigel but really like Sue. My comfort tv.
posted by kanata at 8:38 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Er Sandi not Sue. Now I'm googling to see what the controversy was.
posted by kanata at 8:43 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


In short (because it wasn't mentioned in last year's fanfare and it applies to this season's opening), Prue accidentally tweeted out congratulations to the winner hours before the episode aired due to timezone confusion.
posted by Kyol at 8:54 AM on August 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Oh hey, in the GBBO ephemera, are the abbreviated technical instructions ever provided so we know just how little the contestants had to work from, or is that left up to the viewer's imagination?
posted by Kyol at 9:01 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


are the abbreviated technical instructions ever provided so we know just how little the contestants had to work from

There's actually a shot during this episode's Technical, about 26 minutes in, where you can see most of the Wagon Wheels instruction sheet.
posted by halation at 9:14 AM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am in a pub in Birmingham (the one in England). Two blokes are having an actual fight; one currently has the other by the throat. The pub manager is unsuccessfully trying to stop them.

The reason for their fight? They were arguing, increasingly loudly, about whether a Wagon Wheel was a biscuit, or a cake made of biscuits and other things.

Thanks a bundle, Great British Bake Off. This is England today.

The police have apparently been called.

I have to get off this batshit crazy open prison island.
posted by Wordshore at 10:00 AM on August 29, 2018 [49 favorites]


UPDATE: biscuit man has done a runner, while cake man is nursing his throat.
posted by Wordshore at 10:26 AM on August 29, 2018 [22 favorites]


Good grief Wordshore! Which pub? I could have nipped across town and sought to persuade the confectionary combatants to cease laying about one another and instead listen to me whilst I explained the logic of the Tax Tribunal in its famous decision United Biscuits (UK) Ltd (No 2) (LON/91/160) VAT Decision 6344 as to whether Jaffa Cakes were to be treated as cakes (not subject to value-added tax) or chocolate-covered biscuits (subject to VAT).

I expect they would have jointly beaten me into something resembling jam filling, but that's life in the legal profession for you and at least I'd have got them to agree about something.

(For what it's worth, applying the 11-step test set out in United Biscuits I think it's pretty clear that Wagon Wheels are chocolate-covered biscuits, not cakes.)
posted by Major Clanger at 12:05 PM on August 29, 2018 [12 favorites]


Wait, is a Wagon Wheel what we USAians would call a Moon Pie?
posted by rikschell at 12:15 PM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, returning to the subject at hand...

Mrs Clanger and I agree that there is a steady upward creep in the difficulty of the challenges and the standard of the bakers. That's not surprising; the show is hugely over-subscribed with applicants and everyone comes across as a committed and regular baker.

We are already laying bets that Manon will make it to the final, with Briony likely alongside her. The others are a bit hard to call: Dan and Kim-Joy both look good, whilst Ruby seems to be capable of excellence but also rather bad at managing her time. That, and her professed lack of ability at maths (actually, counting!) rather worry me in someone whose day job is as an engineering project manager.

Also, and I'm sorry to admit this, she does remind me a tiny bit of Tahani from The Good Place. I keep on expecting her to drop the name of a VVIP she's baked for.
posted by Major Clanger at 12:15 PM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Wait, is a Wagon Wheel what we USAians would call a Moon Pie?

It's been a while since I had a moon pie, but aren't those usually cookie/marshmallow/cookie, lovingly enrobed in the cheapest chocolate-like product available, no jam? Or is jam a thing you'd get in if you were in a state with real moon pie aficionados? It's mostly a novelty treat up here.

And yeah, that's roughly how I'd roughly rank the bakers this season, too. Ruby has the usual hit or miss problem that either settles down as they work out the nerves and figure out the rhythm or eventually turns into 3 misses and off they go!

It's definitely obvious how much has changed from the earlier seasons, PBS just ran the 3rd series and the quality of the product was still so quaint and homey. I'm hoping they do manage to keep that even as the quality of the applicants goes up just the same.
posted by Kyol at 12:39 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


For Moon Pies, the cookie layer is graham-based rather than shortbread-ish, and there is no jam layer -- although there are Wagon Wheel variants that are also jamless, iirc. I've seen vanilla-coated Moon Pie variants, as well as banana (ew) and I think once even a peanut butter version? Jam is not standard, though, and Moon Pies are more a regional thing than Wagon Wheels ever were; they're not as easy to find outside of the southern US. The northern east coast of the US has Mallomars, which I consider superior because there's way more marshmallow and no top cookie layer to slow you down.

I felt kind of conflicted about Imelda being sent home? I knew it'd be her, and it was clear from her body language that she knew, too, but she did at least finish her (rather plain) showstopper, and her first-round biscuits were quite good. Terry's first round was a nightmare, and frankly his show-stopper looked rather unappealing to me, leaving me wondering if the decision came down to personal charm/style rather than the actual bake.
posted by halation at 1:01 PM on August 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I also wondered about Imelda v Terry, but the brandysnap/3D idea was clever and the judges pronounced it delicious, so...
posted by Ilira at 1:47 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


brandysnap/3D idea was clever and the judges pronounced it delicious, so...

"Brandysnap Death Mask" is indeed a pretty bold move, and it did pay off. But something about the buttercream layered over the brandysnap triggered my trypophobia, so I may be biased...
posted by halation at 4:34 PM on August 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


So now I'm trying to figure out if Canadian Wagon Wheels are actually American Moon Pies but with a British name, which would be so utterly Canadian, really -- but Wikipedia says that the Canadian ones really are pretty much the same as the UK ones.
posted by maudlin at 6:55 PM on August 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I felt kind of conflicted about Imelda being sent home? I knew it'd be her, and it was clear from her body language that she knew, too, but she did at least finish her (rather plain) showstopper, and her first-round biscuits were quite good. Terry's first round was a nightmare, and frankly his show-stopper looked rather unappealing to me, leaving me wondering if the decision came down to personal charm/style rather than the actual bake.

If Terry is the one with the twirly moustache, I was convinced he was on the way out (and he looked like he thought this as well).
posted by Wordshore at 12:19 AM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


(Meta question: how are Americans managing to watch this new season?)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:29 AM on August 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


youtube, filter for uploaded today. They bounce around but are fairly reliable for the same day before BBC pounces on them.

I miss BBC iplayer.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:28 AM on August 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Broadly: usenet. Usenet and a ton of tooling. But usenet covers about 99% of it.
posted by Kyol at 11:53 AM on August 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Once again I'm going to try to do the technical challenge each week. This has been an interesting experience in the past, and has certainly taken me outside my culinary comfort zone on occasions.

So, Wagon Wheels. Here are my ones - only six, as a couple of my biscuits came out badly and then... well, I had to test one. In terms of taste and texture they came out, I think, pretty well.

I didn't find this easy. Perhaps it was the (quite soft) butter I used, but the biscuit dough was very loose, and even chilling it wasn't enough to ensure the cut-out circles kept their shape. If I tried again, I'd roll it out onto baking paper, put it on trays in the freezer for a few minutes, then use the cookie-cutter to cut out circles, and remove the dough in between. That way I'd end up with circular biscuits.

When the recipe says that you will end up with more marshmallow than you need, this is classic British understatement. Also, don't use a 1cm nozzle to pipe it out, you'll end up with a ludicrously thick layer and have to pare it down with a sharp knife after it's set like I did.

The chocolate coating is a pain. In the end I did top and bottom, then after it had set balanced each Wagon Wheel on an upturned shotglass and used a basting brush to coat around the edges. It sort of worked.
posted by Major Clanger at 12:03 PM on August 30, 2018 [19 favorites]


Antony and Sandi Bollywood dancing. *swoon*
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 12:12 PM on August 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


I just watch on channel4.com. I always get emails for someone with my same name who lives in the UK so I used her address to sign up. Turnabout, fair play, etc.
posted by rewil at 3:20 PM on August 30, 2018 [10 favorites]


(Meta question: how are Americans managing to watch this new season?)

Raises hand. We use TunnelBear VPN to watch the Channel 4 on-demand stream. My wife watches a ton of British TV this way.

I could not understand why people weren't dipping the Wagon Wheels, since to me that was the obvious way to coat them. Most of the selfies were astonishingly good, but Terry's cookie death mask was not. I was stunned that he did not go home.
posted by briank at 6:33 PM on August 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Major Clanger: So, Wagon Wheels. Here are my ones...

They look great to me. Stella (Bravetart) would probably congratulate you!!
posted by wenestvedt at 5:28 AM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yeah, dipping or flooding seemed like the obvious answer compared to getting out the paintbrushes. But I don't know if flooding is really just an industrial process that only works when you're making a few dozen of something and have chocolate to spare.
posted by Kyol at 6:31 AM on August 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's sad Noel never gets to change his hair anymore. The public has trapped him into a hair color and that seems so wrong but he said on Taskmaster he can't find work otherwise. I blame them for that Ron Wood thing, too, and now that he finally has a baby he's gotta keep the ducats coming.
posted by provoliminal at 12:18 PM on August 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


AHHHHH I DIDN'T KNOW THIS WAS COMING. My next 10 weeks have just comprehensively improved.

I laughed, I cried, I love them allllllllllll. Next week I'll be coherent, but for this week, I'm just running amok and sobbing about cookies.
posted by merriment at 3:02 PM on August 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


his show-stopper looked rather unappealing to me

It looked like they'd mummified Lenin in a cake.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:20 PM on September 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


provoliminal can you link to the Taskmaster interview where Noel talks about that?
posted by Julnyes at 8:52 AM on September 5, 2018


Sorry, I just saw this. It was part of a task in series 4 when he was a contestant. I'm thinking episode 2? I can't find a list to consult. They all had to video chat with a Swede, possibly? I forget the actual goal, but I'm pretty sure he's mentioned things of the sort before. Until fairly recently it seemed like he still did stuff to his hairlike being chestnut last year, but to play "himself " it's gotten deemed he has to be some kind of pseudo goth. It's stunned his growth. I quite like it when he had blue bits in his hair.
posted by provoliminal at 4:39 PM on September 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hmm! I forgot this was coming! No matter, it's a delight to have new baked treats in my life again for a few weeks.

It's just wrong that they're doing biscuits first. I expected cake, and ...well. Manon's matcha cookie sounded delicious. Matcha and white chocolate and yuzu, I think? That sounds absolutely delicious.

I even liked Dan's little baby bundle biscuit, even if everyone wasn't so sure about the look of it.

I'm sorry Imelda's gone already. It's a shame to have a poor start like that.
posted by PearlRose at 1:43 PM on September 10, 2018


And season 9 is now on Netflix in the USA.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:40 AM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Just started season 9 on netflix just in time for Thanksgiving! I'll binge watch it up until the MST3K marathon!
posted by miss-lapin at 9:16 AM on November 14, 2018


Huzzah Netflix!

I’m sad to see Imelda go, I love having people from other regions on the show, but if you burn your biscuits...
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:18 PM on November 25, 2018


3D cookie mask was creepy as hell. I actually shrieked.
posted by bq at 9:24 AM on December 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Terry is my fave, due to the Brandysnap Death Mask. Congrats to him for making an otherwise placid baking show genuinely creepy.

I approve. I highly approve. Very rarely do you get something that's both delicious, and could be used as a prop in a Skinny Puppy concert.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:17 AM on February 13 [1 favorite]


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