This week’s episode of The Great British Baking Show features an elusive signature, a buggy technical, and a 3-D showstopper.
After a strong opening for Season 10 with “Cake Week,” the bakers have their sights set on biscuits in week two of The Great British Baking Show. Biscuit Week can separate the pros from the true amateurs, as this week proves just how deceptively complex a basic bake can be. Not to be outdone, Paul and Prue throw some interesting challenges at the bakers this week, seeing which baker can rise to the occasion like a perfectly domed macaron, and which one might crumble like an overbaked gingersnap.
First up, it’s the signature challenge. Paul and Prue have tasked the bakers with making 12 macarons in 2 hours, with a twist – their macarons have to look like something other than macarons. There are a few duplicate designs, such as “burgers” (Sandro and Carole), “ice cream cones” (Kevin and Adbul), and “animals” (James and Rebs). Noted “Flavor King” Janusz’s “watermelon” macarons are intriguing, as they’ll both have the flavor and shape of the summertime fruit.
Also, Jürgen was the flavor king in the previous season … could Janusz be the new Jürgen? Dawn’s looking to hit the judges with strawberry-flavored “yo-yo” shaped biscuits. And Syabira is swinging wide with a savory macaron, a tofu-satay flavored biscuit, much to Paul’s dismay. Can Syabira charm the tofu-hating Paul Hollywood with her treat?
Last week we were without any Hollywood Handshakes. This week, I’m happy to report we get two! The first handshake of the season goes to Dawn, as her strawberry-flavored and “yo-yo” shaped biscuits hit all the flavor notes and design preferences of the judges. The second handshake went to Maxy, as her daisy-shaped biscuits were neat as a pin, and her light and airy macarons were baked to perfection. Bakers that failed to impress were, not surprisingly, Rebs and Maisam, as both had issues with their bakes, and lost time correcting their issues.
Prue’s set this week’s technical challenge, and in her words, it’s “an absolute classic.” The bakers have 1 hour and 45 minutes to bake 12 Garibaldi biscuits. They’re also known as the appealing “squashed fly” biscuits, due to the chopped fruit in the mix resembling dead bugs. Prue’s also added a twist to the classic Garibaldi, requiring the bakers to dip half of the biscuit in a chocolate/white chocolate feathered design.
Most of the bakers have had a Garibaldi biscuit; however, it’s a common shop biscuit, and not one they’ve made on a regular basis. Adding a layer of complexity to the bake is that it requires the contestants to do “maths” to figure out the measurements to split their dough into 12 identical biscuits. Poor Janusz accidentally cuts 24 biscuits, but he just forces the dough together on his cut treats, hoping he won’t get too many points deducted. There are also some interesting takes on “feathering” chocolate, as Syabira and Abdul construct actual feathers of white chocolate and place them on the biscuits.
The rankings of the technical are as followed: Abdul (11), Syabira (10), Dawn (9), Kevin (8), Maisam (7), Janusz (6), Maxy (5), Carole (4), Sandro (3), James (2), and Rebs (1). Rebs may have redeemed herself with a high placement in the technical, as her Garibaldi biscuits hit the marks on both the design (she had nice feathering of chocolate) and bake (her biscuits may have been a bit soft, but they were nice and thin). Maisam still is in a tough spot, as she’s still amongst the bottom of the bakers, as her Garibaldi’s were just ok in taste and decoration.
The final challenge of Biscuit week is the Showstopper, and the bakers have 4 hours to create a 3-D biscuit mask. These are masks in the fashion of carnival, masquerade, or even a dip into the horror genre. The judges are looking for spectacular designs, and the 3-D mask must be able to stand upright on a stand at the end of the challenge. These showstoppers are always tense to watch, as it not only comes down to the bake but also the design strengths of the bakers.
There are some fun, whimsical designs among the bakers. Abdul’s baking approximately 90 biscuits in differing varieties to mimic the feathers of a beloved family pet parrot. Janusz is going for a unique Cubist artistic mask, a design that rivals host Noel’s artistic skills. Carole’s got the judges worried as her masquerade-inspired mask will feature a gingerbread biscuit made with lard. The lard could risk the structural integrity of the mask; she’s going to need a strong bake to make sure her mask doesn’t collapse.
There are a few issues that occur during the Showstopper bake. Reb has to restart her gingerbread, as the first bake cracks in the oven. It might also be worth noting that maybe using a hammered dog water bowl as a mold is not the strongest move. Maisam gets on better with her bake, as she finishes with about 30 minutes to spare. She wonders if her mask is too simple, as every other baker is furiously adding intricate designs up to the final stopping point. And sadly Carole’s mask collapses moments after she places it on her stand. She’s a bit emotional but is consoled by Noel and Maisam, as her mask is still mostly intact.
It’s judgment time for their elaborate Showstoppers. Some humorous moments include Paul wearing Sandro’s mask (the judges also enjoy his strawberry and elderflower biscuits), Janusz’s Polish spice biscuits reminding the judges of Christmas, and Maxy’s sugar and Florentine biscuits hitting all the marks on taste. Bakers towards the bottom of the challenge were Carole’s crumbly ginger biscuits (the lard ultimately failed to support the mask’s structure), Maisam’s mask was too simple, and Rebs’ mask was a bit too small.
At the end of the episode, it’s Maxy who’s crowned Star Baker this week. Another week of a strong signature and showstopper beating out a middle-placed technical. Maxy’s overjoyed at earning the Star Baker title. Sadly, the departing baker this week is Maisam. She didn’t have any epic fails, but her bakes just didn’t wow the judges. However, she’s proud that at 18, she was able to compete in the show, and knows her baking journey will continue long after the show.
Predictions and Other Thoughts
Love that Maxy earned Star Baker this week! She really seemed to wow Paul and Prue with a strong Signature. I still think Sandro’s going to get Star Baker, and I’m going with week three as his week to win it. And I still think he’ll be rounding out the top three bakers, with Janusz and Syabira joining him.
Also, well done on James on stepping up his bakes this week. I had predicted last week he’d be next to go. I think next week we will see Carole leaving the tent. She didn’t have a great week here, and if she can’t redeem herself next week, she could be the next to go.
Most heartwarming moment – Noel coming over to Carole as her mask broke! It was a sweet, genuine moment that felt like a throwback to the days of Mel and Sue (remember them?!).
Cringe rating of the cold open – I’m going with 4, as the cold open saw Noel asking Paul what kind of biscuit Matt was holding (the twist – Matt was holding a small dog). A mild cringe level compared to last week’s Star Wars opening, which was a ten.