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15 August 2015

Review - The Great British Bake Off: Episode 2

A lot of people were looking forward to this week's episode of Bake Off. Why? Because it was biscuit week! What would the bakers be faced with this series? 3D biscuit scenes and florentines like last year? Oh no.... Mary and Paul got a whole lot meaner this time.

Image credit: sofeminine.co.uk

The episode kicked off with Mel instructing the bakers, in an amusing Italian accent, to produce 24 identical biscotti for their Signature challenge. As usual, each of the bakers say hello and tell us what they are planning on baking - and as usual, Paul raises his eyebrows questioningly at most of the bakers' ideas. Oh Paul, you cruel man. For me, the most appealing sounding biscotti are Mat's (cranberry, pistachio and white chocolate - very similar to Paul's suggestion of cranberry, hazelnut and chocolate) and Sandy's (fig, hazelnut and chocolate). Yum. The camera pans around the tent to show all of the bakers with sticky hands as they make their mixture. It looks fairly messy work, and then we are greeted with the first innuendo of the episode from Tamal () : "It's very wet, is everyone else's not?"... Oh Tamal.

Ian is using his home grown rosemary in his biscotti (Paul describes this as "interesting"), Ugne is making white wine biscotti (now that's what I call interesting) and contestant Paul is creating a chocolate dough with hazelnuts. The judges advise him that it can be tricky to know if chocolate dough is baked due to its colour - I've been there many times, my friend! 

Next up we see that Marie is having a bit of trouble with her biscotti... A beautiful conversation ensues between her and Paul, which involves her telling him to be nice to her because she's going home, and that he has a lovely face. Hilarious!


"I'll tell you what happened."


"Oh, I like that face!"

I'm sorry Marie, but flattery probably won't work with Mr Hollywood.

Time's up, Sue tells Flora to funnel the biscotti into her open mouth, and the judging begins. Nadiya massively gets away with forgetting to put the fennel in her mixture, lucky thing, although she does look terrified yet again - relax, Nadiya, you're doing well! The best biscotti awards go to Mat, Sandy and Ian. I would gladly dip any of these into my cup of coffee (is that a really uncouth thing to do? Sorry.)

You know what time it is... It's the Technical Challenge. Ahhhhhh. And this week's is TRICKY. The bakers are asked to produce 8 arlettes. Arlettes. Still not sure? No, me neither...


They do however sound yummy - delicate cinnamon puff pastry biscuits. I'm almost tempted to give baking them a go, but I think I'll settle for a cinnamon swirl.

Poor Marie is having a nightmare - did anyone see this happening?! It turns out she, err, didn't get the oven settings quite right. Oh dear. Everyone else seems to get to grips with it OK, but the final products actually vary widely in appearance. It might be because the recipe is very unhelpful, as Tamal explains: "They're really helpful instructions actually - it just says, "make the dough", which is great." (With his sarcasm, he's now even more attractive somehow.)

Paul and Mary step up to do some judging, and it's time for the this week's drinking game (remember last week's was with the word granular?): take a sip of your gin (or your tea) every time Paul says the word 'lamination'. I warn you now - he says it a fair few times. It's lovely to see Dorret awarded first place after last week's near Bingate 2.0 and her slightly shaky Signature round; meanwhile Marie and Paul are at the bottom of the leaderboard.

It's finally time for the Showstopper challenge, and the bakers are asked to make 36 biscuits in a biscuit box - tough! I give a loud 'Awwww!' when contestant Paul tells us he is making pink macarons in a memory box for his wife. Isn't that adorable? Alvin is making brandy snaps (yum), Nadiya has opted for fortune cookies (exciting!) and Sandy is the only baker making savoury biscuits. Seven of the bakers choose gingerbread for their box mixture, but Ian and Flora both choose shortbread. Their creations sound wonderful: Flora's, a tea chest with Earl Grey biscuits inside, and Ian's, a 'Sandwich de la Confiture' which involves him using a rather wonderful metal contraption he has brought with him. 







Mat is making a FIRE ENGINE! I only ever seem to use capital letters to describe Mat's bakes, but that's because they are always right up my street. Gin and tonic madeira cake last week, and a fire engine full of biscuits this week? Amazing. When he says he is going to use smashed boiled sweets to make the windows, I actually start clapping with excitement.

Ugne's creation does not appeal to me so much - she's making cottage cheese cookies, and is going to make a baby out of fondant, who will be attempting to steal the cookies... Sounds bizarre to me, but OK. The white wine biscotti worked, so maybe this will too!

The bakers start to run out of time: Ian says things are "tickity-boo" (I think he is fast becoming my favourite), Alvin ponders whether to put his box together or just to focus on his snaps (put the box together Alvin!), Flora cracks her shortbread box lid in half almost (what a shame! Such beautiful icing on top) and Nadiya has a dent in her lid. It's biscuit-y chaos in the tent. On the other hand, the macarons from both boys look GREAT, the fire engine looks AMAZING and Sandy's box looks lovely.  


Marie has not had such a good round - judge Paul doesn't seem too pleased with her - and Ugne's biscuit box looks... eek... I don't know how to describe it! Very colourful. It's not quite for me. As we get a closer look at contestant Paul's memory box, I start dropping hints to my boyfriend that I want a memory box baked for me, and as we get another look at Mat's fire engine, I can't believe it when I see that there is even a biscuit ladder! It's a true work of art.

We near the end of what has been a jam-packed, fairly stressful episode. It's reminded me that biscuits are naughty - they can sneakily be a lot more difficult to perfect than cake. It's also reminded me that Mary Berry continues to be a true fashion icon in that snazzy jacket (or should I say, 'Golden Berry'). In my opinion, Star Baker should go to either Ian or Mat - I think I've raved about them enough in this post for you to understand why. In terms of who should go... It's not looking good for Dorret or Marie. 

I hate to say it, but again it looks like Paul and Mary agree with me (I promise I make these decisions before I hear their verdict. Hand on heart!) Star Baker is awarded to Ian (tickity-boo!) and we say goodbye to the lovely Marie. I feel sorry for her as she has been in the media a lot this week with people saying she should go (she may have had some professional training in her younger years) and now, she has!


What did you think of this biscuit-y episode? Who do you think should have been Star Baker? Have you tried making any of the bakes? Leave me a comment below, or tweet me here.

The Great British Bake Off image credits unless stated otherwise - BBC 
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