We’re getting into the swing of things with The Great British Bake Off: two episodes in and the (mostly) unintentional innuendos are starting to stack up, while Alison Hammond is proving to be a real breath of fresh air. In short: all is right with the universe.
This week was all about biscuits, and saw the bakers given the task of three all-new challenges: making marshmallow biscuits (ie Tunnocks Teacakes) in the Signature, Custard Creams in the Technical and their favourite meal (but make it biscuit) in the Showstopper. Naturally, this went about as well as could be expected – some people crumbled under the pressure, others had a few Twix up their sleeves and Alison Hammond was loving every minute of it.
So put on your apron, crack open that pack of Hobnobs and tuck into our roundup of the highlights...
This week was Tasha’s triumph. She knocked it out of the park with her Signature marshmallow biscuits based around the Australian malt drink Milo, didn’t completely crash and burn out of the Technical, and made a beautiful faux-chicken katsu curry in the Showstopper (served in a painted palet Breton bowl). Onwards and upwards!
Who went home?
However, for every Star Baker there has to be a contestant sent home, and in this instance it’s Keith’s turn to exit the famous tent. Despite his best efforts, his Signature wagon wheels are a shambles (though they do taste great: cold comfort), his Custard Creams lack definition and his Showstopper is pronounced underbaked (plus, his biscuit tomatoes look decidedly mutated).
“It’s alright. I feel fine, there is nothing sad about this moment. I have had the most fantastic time. There were bruises up my arm from the first week as I was pinching myself every half hour,” he says as he leaves. I’m not crying, you are.
Most stressful moment
Rowan going to the freezer during the Technical and not being able to find his dough (eek). After two seconds of sleuthing it is deduced that Cristy has accidentally taken it for her biscuits; she hands it back with profuse apologies. Rowan dutifully insists that it wasn’t sabotage, but in Bake Off, it’s every man and woman for themselves…
During the Showstopper, Keith’s diligently prepped shortbread Pringles tube also falls apart spectacularly in the oven. “Bit panicky,” he says. “I can’t afford to get it wrong twice.” But although the biscuit tube holds together, everything else doesn’t: his sandwich-themed Showstopper is pronounced underdone and precedes his exit from the tent.
Every episode has one: this week’s innuendo happens during the Technical, where the bakers are competing to make the perfect Custard Cream. “This one’s going to be top, this one’s going to be bottom. I’m a man with a plan,” says Rowan, flipping his biscuits over as they come out of the oven. Two seconds later, he’s rubbing his hand up and down the filling-stuffed piping bag in a very suggestive way.
“Rowan, what are you doing?” Cristy squeals. “I’m warming my cream,” he replies, probably innocently.
Could this week’s Showstopper be the most extra Bake Off challenge ever? The brief is to sculpt an “illusory bake” banquet of the baker’s favourite foods – ie they need to make biscuits that looks like something else. The bakers go all-in for this – Abbi makes a “dim sum brunch” out of brandy-snap spring rolls and an apricot and pistachio biscuit dumplings, Cristy makes a cheeseboard out of marzipan (parma ham) and ginger biscuits (cheese wedges) and Saku plumps for a traditional Sri Lankan breakfast.
All of them look good – hats off to Tasha for making a chicken katsu curry in a painted biscuit bowl. But Josh might just take the prize: his illusory burger and fries (sculpted from shortbread and Florentines) is described by Paul as “a little bit special”, and indeed merits a Hollywood handshake roughly thirty seconds later. A thing of beauty.
Out-there flavour combos
Rowan (he’s really carrying this episode) has to be first choice for his lemon and rosemary shortbread and Parma Violet flavour combo during the Signature challenge. “My nan used to like Parma Violets,” Paul says. “They were absolutely disgusting.”
As you might expect, Rowan freaks out, dialling down the Parma Violet extract massively. “I might just do lemon. Sod it,” he muses at one point. But everything works out for the best: Paul calls it a “pretty decent marshmallow biscuit,” and Prue says it is “amazing.” Phew - still not convinced though.
Any Hollywood handshakes?
Yes: the first ones of the season! Paul proffers his hand to a stunned Tasha for her Milo-flavoured marshmallow biscuits. “It’s so delicate, and the chocolate comes through,” he tells her. “It has a beautiful molten aftertaste in the mouth. I think they’re delicate, I think they’re pretty, and I have to…” Cue applause throughout the tent, and very well deserved it is too.
At the end of the show, he also chases Josh back to his seat after presenting his Showstopper (the aforementioned burger and fries illusion) to dole out another signifier of his approval. The Hollywood handshake is already depreciating in value…
Most wholesome moment
The Signature challenge has its fair share of wholesomeness: challenged with making marshmallow biscuits, Dan opts for a bake themed around his son’s birthday, while Cristy chooses to make one based on her grandma’s favourite flavours.
However, the most wholesome moment of all has to be literally any time Alison Hammond is on-screen. She’s fast proving to be this season’s ace in the hole: laughing with the contestants, joking with Noel and clearly thrilled to be there.
“For me, highlight: Tasha’s handshake. That was incredible!” she beams as the judges and hosts chat over the bakers’ prospects, pre-Showstopper. “It’s my first one. It was amazing!” Never change, Alison.
The Great British Bake Off streamsTuesdays on Channel 4