Alexandra Lawrence is back with your weekly Bake Off roundup.
Britain’s best amateur bakers returned to the Great British Bake-Off tent last Tuesday, and once again, we as viewers were strapped to our chairs as biscuit week was underway. With the highs and lows of week one, the bakers were ready to dazzle the judges once more to further their time in the competition.
Cake week saw Jürgen crowned star baker with his excellence in both mechanics and baking. However, returning baker Jairzeno entered biscuit week ready to impress the judges as he became stuck on thin ice last week with an unfinished showstopper.
As Matt Lucas and Noel Fielding opened the program dressed as a wafer and a party ring, excitement grew to what biscuit week had in store for us viewers.
The Scorching Signature:
For this week’s signature bake, the bakers were tasked with the challenge of making brandy snaps. To which judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith wanted this traditional biscuit to have not only a good bake and there to be an even 24, but they most importantly wanted an excellent snap.
Before the signature began, baker Giuseppe was ‘strangely confident’ about biscuit week, and fellow baker Lizzie mentioned that she was ‘excited but terrified about the week ahead.
To make the bake even more complex, the contestants either had to coat, dip or fill their brandy snaps, all within two hours. It was a race to the best brandy snap. With their whiskers at the ready, Cypriot born George felt calm about the bake ahead as he prepared to bring a Greek twist to the classic sugary snap. On the other hand, retired baker Maggi (and Prue look-alike) presented a traditional approach to the judges, adding a blackcurrant filling. Each baker had their twist, personal like Jürgen heritage flavours or imaginative like Lizzie’s fast-food apple pie inspired snap. Leith still wanted the bakers to present 24 identical bakes, mentioning how the bakers had to be extra careful, as there is a lot to go wrong. Likewise, Hollywood focused on the textures and wanted the outside and inside of the bake to be perfect.
Baking since the age of nine, Amanda felt like she had beginners’ luck so far in the competition. For her brandy snaps, she added orange zest and hints of ginger to give an extra boost of flavour, ginger being a favourite of Hollywood’s. Another baker incorporating a shot of flavour was Chigs, whose twist on a brandy snap was the flavour of espresso martini.
With this week’s signature being made mostly of sugar, the bakers needed to be aware of the biscuit being under-baked because that would result in a chewy texture. Yet bakers were required to make sure they didn’t burn their bakes as this could be a disaster that could happen in a matter of seconds.
As the clock was ticking till this week’s signature bake was over, and for baker George, the thought of ever making a brandy snap again was fearful.
For Amanda, Jairzeno and George, the execution wasn’t to the judge’s standard, whereas Crystelle was stronger in perfecting her flavours and textures. And for Jürgen, he was the first baker to receive Matt Lucas’s not so ‘legendary handshake’.
Knowing biscuit week wasn’t going to get any easier, it was time for some gingham wholesomeness. This week technical wanted the bakers to make sandwich jammy biscuits and was set by Paul Hollywood. Before the judges left the tent, to allow the bake to be judged blindly, Hollywood guided the bakers to read the recipe correctly and carefully. He noted that even though it was a straightforward bake, things could go wrong, and they should all aim for perfection.
The technical challenge is where the viewers can see bakers either crack or excel under the pressure of the unknown.
For Chigs, he had to make sure each stage of the bake was perfect so that the judges could see him as a strong contestant. Amanda joked about how these biscuits are the kind you can get for 11p in the supermarket to ease the tension inside the tent. It was followed by Crystelle joking about being an amateur at making jam but was a master at eating it.
With GBBO being filmed at the high of the British summer, the bakers had to face the extreme heat within the tent. For this technical bake, they had to make sure their biscuits had a firm texture before baking. For baker Rocha this caused her bake to become an actual technical disaster!
From this biscuit being the kind you can get at ease at your local supermarket, it resulted in a jammy nightmare for most bakers.
As the contestants bought the bakes to the front, it was time for the judges to taste the biscuits amongst them, unknown to who had baked them.
For Rocha, her soggy bake made her come last in the technical challenge, with both Hollywood and Leith agreeing her jammy sandwich was underbaked and had no definition.
On the other side of the table was the winner. Known as the ‘baking terminator’ by fellow baker Giuseppe, once again, Jürgen wowed the judges with his perfectly baked and defined biscuits.
Well done, Jürgen!
For this week’s showstopper, the judges wanted the bakers to reminisce on all thing’s childhood.
The new series of Bake-off hasn’t done its showstoppers by halves. From wanting an anti-gravity cake last week, the bakers are expected to produce a 3D replication of a childhood toy that could also be fully interactive.
I wonder what week three will be?
The contestants had four hours to create this masterpiece, for which Leith expected to see each of their biscuits able to do something when presented to her. Likewise, Hollywood knew this showstopper would be a challenge and mentioned how the bakers needed to be good at baking and engineering.
For this biscuit construction, most bakers opted for gingerbread as it is robust. However, Amanda went for a sugar biscuit, as she focused more on flavour and texture rather than construction.
Turning the Bake-Off tent into Hamley’s toy shop, a range of biscuit toys from rocking horses, pool tables, make-up tables, and aeroplanes created a tent full of childhood nostalgia. Only bakers Maggi and Jürgen made more abstract toys, as they focused more on a childhood memory than a toy. With this, Maggi produced a beach scene, and Jürgen created a windmill, the highest biscuit model in the tent.
As this showstopper saw the contestants’ future in the tent relying on icing as glue and how good they could engineer dough, the bakers started to assembled their biscuit toys. We viewers slowly started to see which baker would create magic or which biscuit would crumble before being presented to the judges.
As witty Lucas and Fielding told the contestants to stop baking and put their biscuit toys to one side, after four hours of intense baking, it was judgment time.
If you agree, Chigs created an ingenious snooker table, which fully interactive the judges, leading him to create one of the best bakes so far in this series.
However, sadly for Amanda, her option to choose a sugar biscuit left her rocking horse in crumbles, unlike Freya’s, whose prestigious rocking horse stood proud with vegan elements.
George and Jürgen, their mechanic excellence impressed the judges as they each made an original and interactive bake.
As week two drew to a close, baker Maggi was bought to tears by the challenges she experienced while baking biscuits. And with that, it was decision time.
Someone must leave the tent:
Like every series of the Great British Bake-Off, Fielding and Lucas find it harder to announce who is sadly leaving the tent. Fielding mentioned, ‘it gets harder each week saying goodbye as we get to know each other better.’
With each competition stage getting harder and the standards rising, baker Jairzeno sadly was the second constant to leave the tent. His bakes were too rough and ready for the judge’s criteria. With this, the other contestants were gutted about their fellow baker and friend leaving, leading to Maggi finally understanding the meaning of ‘the skin of your teeth as she failed to impress the judges with the showstopper.
With Lucas calling him the smartest cookie, baker Jürgen was able to keep his star baker title for another week and was celebrated widely. * This time, his phone call got received by delighted family and friends… it was the sweetest ending to week two.
Next Week: Pauls domain enters the tent leaving two weeks of sensation sweet treats behind. Week three will see the baker’s battle bread week…