The Great British Bake Off: Biscuit Week
September 4, 2019 7:24 AM - Season 10, Episode 2 - Subscribe

It's crunch time with Biscuit Week, starting off with a luxurious chocolate coated signature bake, then a snack with family significance for Paul and an eye-catching showstopper
posted by Anonymous (34 comments total)
I do hope we're not going to run into another season of cooling-related baking failures. I don't mind the time challenge - it's clearly possible to produce winners within the time constraints, and a bunch of the bakers do every challenge, but if one's recipe is running tight at home without the TV production delays ... maybe come up with a recipe that will work within the allotted time? That feels like part of the bake-off challenge, right?

But man, asking people to work with heat and humidity sensitive products in a _tent_, sometimes, I dunno. At least this episode it mostly seemed to be self-inflicted time-related rushing that caused a lot of the failures. But sometimes they're asking for a chocolate whatsit and it's 35c in the tent and. Yeah, no, thanks.

I'm not surprised Jamie didn't make it - he was kind of goofy and fun, but man those bakes were nothing to write home about.

It looks like the wikipedia article is up, and man alive the contestants are _young_. Their average age is only 31 compared to 36 in series 9 and 39 in series 8.
posted by Kyol at 9:24 AM on September 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

That all said, nothing this week made me want to run to the local patisserie for dessert, so meh all around. I dunno, English biscuits generally don't grab me in the same way as American cookies, but they're still just sort of a snack, not something that can show a Feat of Baking Prowess. It's like having the Great British Chip Off. Great, you fried that potato real good, y'all.

(I mean, compared to the mindboggling variety of cakes and breads and puddings and frou-frou whipped desserts and such that are apparently still common and not just "oh yeah, grandma used to make those in the 70s". Biscuits are just biscuits. Meh.)
posted by Kyol at 9:46 AM on September 4, 2019

My Tuesday night treat is to make a mug cake to eat while I watch the Bake-Off. It takes me all of 2 minutes to mix it at 90 seconds to cook.

I'm never overly fussed with biscuit week, but I loved the fig roll challenge, as they've always been a favourite of mine. I'm so glad the Spiderwoman (can't remember anyone's names yet) got through. Jamie was a bit clueless, though, and so it was right that he went home.

I agree the bakers this season lack diversity and are mostly quite young. There are usually a fair few 'poshos' amongst the contestants but there seem to be more than most this year, although that might be because two of the women - the vet and the one who got Star Baker this week - talk veryveryveryveryveryvery quickly.
posted by essexjan at 12:52 PM on September 4, 2019 [5 favorites]

When I saw Alice in her uniform, I immediately flashed on Toast of London and now just picture her perfectly smacking the shit out of Matt Berry.

I found Jaime unnerving with his red and blue eyes and while he's probably the sweetest boy in the world I get the feeling he's been off his face in a room where bad things are afoot. Probably just the great clouds of youth coming off him.

I'm all for a goth. I don't know how long she will last, but go, little goth!
posted by provoliminal at 1:39 PM on September 4, 2019 [3 favorites]

So, as someone with a tin ear for accents, does Helena the goth just have a really unusual one even by the usual standards, or is there some other foreign accent underneath it? And yeah, I'm hoping she settles down a bit as she feels like she's really unsteady at the moment. But she's the sort of left field uncertainty that can bring some excitement to the mid-series selections.

Let's see - of the showstoppers, I really liked Alice's lamb and Michelle's Welsh dragon, but Rosie's chicken was just incredible. David's was pretty, but it didn't really wow me either.
posted by Kyol at 2:57 PM on September 4, 2019

In the first episode, they said that Helena originally grew up in Lanzarote, so I assume that's where her adorable accent comes from.
posted by paisley sheep at 9:53 PM on September 4, 2019

I just unthinkingly assumed she was Spanish born since she sounds a lot like another Spanish goth in England I've heard recently, which made me wonder how prevalent the Spanish goth scene is.
posted by provoliminal at 11:30 PM on September 4, 2019

I'm surprised some of the bakers were criticised for fig rolls that were too round, because if you look at the example plate Paul shows off when he's explaining the technical challenge, they look like little sausage rolls. I would be interested in seeing the recipe as handed out, because it was plain from some of the bakers' comments that it must have been extremely vague in places (e.g. how long to bake for, how much ginger to use.) I know the idea is to test the bakers' general baking knowledge and kitchen common sense, but I can appreciate how frustrating that must be under stress.

It's early to start the who-will-be-in-the-final sweepstakes, but on her showing so far Michelle has to be a strong contender. From past years, the really good bakers were apparent by week 3 or 4 but she's already had two good weeks, although her technical this week was so-so. (But then last year Briony got to the semi-final despite lots of poor showings on the technical, so that's not necessarily a fatal flaw.)
posted by Major Clanger at 3:08 AM on September 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ah, that would explain it - the Canaries are _really_ off the average American's radar (well, mine at least), I probably heard Lanzarote and figured it was... I dunno. Particularly English hills country, given the difficulty the judges were having understanding her?
posted by Kyol at 8:58 AM on September 5, 2019

Nice technical challenge. Now I want Fig Newtons.
posted by chainsofreedom at 1:59 PM on September 6, 2019 [3 favorites]

Farewell, Bakestreet Boy.
posted by Bunny Boneyology at 4:11 PM on September 6, 2019 [14 favorites]

Yeah, so no surprises this episode, it was pretty clear Jaimie couldn't cut it.

More interesting is frontrunner Allice, whose expressions could not be more frontrunner-esque. Whuuuut, me star baker?

She'll make the top 3 for sure. But winner? Time will tell.
posted by jeremias at 6:11 PM on September 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Alice looks quite wide-eyed pretty much all the time. She killed it this week. The tall flowers in that wedding thing were amazing. And the chicken! The chicken was better than the sheep but Alice still deserved the overall win.

I hate to say I am glad Jaimie is gone but he was stressful to watch.

Finally, I always wonder if those things that are too sweet for Paul and Prue would be too sweet for me. I have cut back on sugar quite a lot in recent years but still a sucker for super sweet delicious. (current fave: Vosges Caramel Marshmallows, my birthday thing)
posted by Glinn at 11:29 PM on September 6, 2019

The witches' fingers it me or did that look like something you see on Pinterest?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:53 AM on September 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

I was disappointed with Helena's last bake because she was **this close** to having an egg with a facehugger in it and chose to do a spider instead.

Who does that? A synth, that's who.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:26 AM on September 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

The kid wearing the tie made a joke about how he looked like a prepubescent American schoolboy. Whut?
posted by janell at 9:56 AM on September 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

Henry is going to need therapy after all this.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:18 AM on September 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

two of the women - the vet and the one who got Star Baker this week - talk veryveryveryveryveryvery quickly.
Oh I'm glad someone said this before I asked. I don't generally have a good sense of the class implications of various British accents, but the vet had such a clipped accent that I was going to ask if it was super posh.
posted by peacheater at 7:03 PM on September 7, 2019

Overall, I really enjoyed this episode, particularly as I am chronically biscuit-deprived, having grown up in a former British colony that favors hard biscuits, and now living in the US. I generally find American cookies to be too soft and often rather sickly sweet, so it was nice to see the full range of biscuits here and particularly the attention that was paid to flavoring them well.
posted by peacheater at 7:10 PM on September 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

What is it with the cardamom in everything? Is it *the* spice of British baking? Do American bakers use it so often? I’m the cook at home, but I rarely bake, so please bear with my ignorance here.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:48 PM on September 7, 2019

American bakers don't use cardamom that much; interestingly, I've heard it's common in Finland baked goods. I personally like it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:29 AM on September 8, 2019

I've again done the technical challenge (recipe here) and I think the result came out looking OK. Paul Hollywood would no doubt criticise me for lack of consistency but at least there are twelve of them.
posted by Major Clanger at 10:07 AM on September 8, 2019 [10 favorites]

Nicely done, Major Clanger!
posted by suelac at 10:22 PM on September 8, 2019

I agree the bakers this season lack diversity and are mostly quite young.

Agreed. We're missing the plucky grandma and stoic retiree archetypes. It does feel like they picked folks based on whether or not a spinoff project could be hung off them.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:21 AM on September 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

"Farewell, Bakestreet Boy."

LOL Bunny Boneyology ...all though the first two episodes my wife was calling him "Justin Timberbake".
posted by Captain_Science at 10:48 AM on September 9, 2019 [7 favorites]

What is it with the cardamom in everything? Is it *the* spice of British baking? Do American bakers use it so often? I’m the cook at home, but I rarely bake, so please bear with my ignorance here.

Cardamom is found in a lot of Indian and Middle Eastern desserts. I don't know if its use in Britain is an empire thing or if it became popular through the influence of more recent immigration. Most Americans (as far as I can tell) only encounter cardamom in chai or maaaaybe Christmas cookies.
posted by grandiloquiet at 2:31 PM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bye bye bye to Justin Timberbake!
posted by exceptinsects at 9:47 PM on September 10, 2019

Cardamom isn’t common in traditional American desserts, but you find it all the time in new hip restaurants or fancy bakeries here.
posted by exceptinsects at 9:49 PM on September 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

What is it with the cardamom in everything? Is it *the* spice of British baking?

It goes very nicely with chocolate, and I've always felt that American sweets have been missing a trick by neglecting it, since lots of other places in the world know what's good. Every few years it seems to have a brief bright vogue in trendier US sweets, and then just as randomly it seems to be forgotten again. Lindt sold some marvellous cardamom-dusted chocolate almonds for a while back in the 90s in the US, and I've hoped against hope they'd come back, ever since. No luck so far, alas. I want to eat all the cardamom everything.
posted by halation at 11:29 AM on September 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I was disappointed in the lack of crackers aka “savory biscuits” because I love watching people make those. Also the signature challenge, to my American eyes, looked like they were making candy bars. Like, overloaded, totally gourmet Twixes. Not a complaint, I guess I just didn’t realize that was an option.
posted by sleeping bear at 1:34 AM on September 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

I was pretty impressed by the quality of the showstoppers, at least their visual appeal, several were stunning. The lady who stacked her biscuits to create a pyramid/tower? They've called out people for that before, maybe five seasons ago, but still, you gotta know what they're going to be impressed by or not.

Also, the lady who won this week seems perfectly nice and did great, but she bears a striking resemblance to Ivanka Trump, which I am struggling to not hold against her.

I agree about the signature challenge, not what I would think of as a cookie/biscuit, but most of thing looked extremely delicious.

Major Clanger, I love that you're doing the signature challenges, they looked great both weeks.
posted by skewed at 6:44 AM on September 12, 2019

The lady who stacked her biscuits to create a pyramid/tower? They've called out people for that before, maybe five seasons ago, but still, you gotta know what they're going to be impressed by or not.

I figured this out, and it's thanks to Netflix's odd ordering of seasons + rewatching them over ... and over ... and over ...

GBBO season 4 did a stacked biscuit showstopper; season 5 was the more traditional gingerbread construction, and one contestant in that season did stacks. Netflix showed season 5 first, then season 4, giving that aha! moment.

Amelia had a great idea numbering those biscuits, and Paul was unnecessarily harsh with his criticism of the stacking, I thought. I have no idea how one would treat dough like clay without using ... salt dough.

I loved Alice's sheep and Rosie's chicken; they were so polished (especially for farm animals!). The guitar would have been fine a couple seasons ago, but the bar to clear keeps rising.
posted by JawnBigboote at 9:45 AM on September 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

I don't understand how the 11 fig rolls happened. It seems like it would be harder to divide your rolls into 11 equal pieces than 12 equal pieces. When Helena finished last in the technical, I was worried that she'd be sent home, and Jamie would be that annoying contestant who inexplicably sticks around far longer than he should. So glad the spider sculpture turned out well for her; if nothing else, she'll be Keeping Bake Off Weird, which I appreciate.

I thought Priya was very sweet in helping Jamie with his Signature fiasco, and for talking Michael down when he was freaking out over something in the Showstopper round.

And while the chicken was the standout (at least visually), I also loved Steph's cat!
posted by creepygirl at 9:52 PM on September 12, 2019 [4 favorites]

What is it with the cardamom in everything? Is it *the* spice of British baking?

It's increasingly fashionable here at the moment, with some cardamom-flavoured chocolate bars around (aimed at adults not children) and Swedish-style cardamom buns making an appearance on bakery stalls at fancy food markets. It's not a traditional British baking ingredient; our tea loaves and spiced biscuits are more likely to feature cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Like matcha, I'd say, it's something you've likely encountered if you're interested in food, while still being sufficiently far outside the mainstream to feel like something that will make your baking stand out.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:11 PM on September 14, 2019

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