‘The Great British Baking Show’ Season 11, Episode 2 Recap: “Biscuit Week”

Image Courtesy of 'The Great British Baking Show'

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There are spoilers about the episode in this article.

Welcome back to The Great British Baking Show! This week the bakers returned for the classic “Biscuit Week.” We are down to eleven bakers, and they are all aiming to make the perfect biscuit to help them escape elimination and hopefully earn them the title of ‘star baker,’ as judged by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.

Signature Challenge

For their signature challenge, the bakers were asked to bake a batch of 36 chocolate florentines in two hours. They needed to be uniform in shape, texture, and flavor and have the perfect snap when broken. They also needed to be either dipped, decorated, or coated in chocolate. Florentines are small and thin, so it can be a hard biscuit to bake to ensure that perfect snap.

Several bakers decided to design intricate decoration on top of their florentines to make themselves stand out. Linda made crystallized ginger florentines with finely blitzed brazil nuts, hazelnuts, and pecans. She decorated them with dark chocolate and topped them with beautiful sugar flowers. However, the judges weren’t impressed as they thought she got lost in the appearance and lost what a florentine was because her biscuits were too flat and lacked texture. They thought her strong ginger flavor was delicious, but it wasn’t a florentine.

Rowan created candied orange, cherry, and dried raspberry’ waistcoat florentines’ in honor of the waistcoat he always wears on top of his classic shirt and tie. He decorated them to look like various colors of a waistcoat with modeling chocolate. However, following the same theme as last week, Rowan was overambitious and couldn’t complete what he had promised. Less than half of his biscuits were completed with the decoration. His flavors were good, but his biscuits didn’t snap, and the modeling chocolate made them overwhelmingly sweet.

Mak also used intricate decoration by aiming to pipe peacock feathers on top of his Indian inspired mango, cumin, and cashew nut florentines. However, when he was decorating, his chocolate began to solidify, and he lost a lot of time. This resulted in his peacock feathers looking more like tennis rackets. His biscuits were gooey and needed longer in the oven, probably caused by his soaked mango. Again, the judges said that the flavors were nice, but it wasn’t a florentine.

However, Mak had lots of competition for his mango-flavored florentines because mango was the week’s popular flavor. Dave made mango, nut, and sesame seed florentines, decorated by feathering three types of chocolate. They looked very impressive and wowed the judges with the technique. His biscuits were complimented on their snap and good flavor. However, the judges wished there was a bit of variety in the texture.

Image Courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Mark produced cardamom, macadamia, and dried mango florentines. He likes large chunks of nuts in his biscuits and so left his nuts rather large. This of course sparked an innuendo-filled conversation with the judges about his nuts. He had a great snap to his biscuits but his white chocolate was a little dominant.

Hermine struggled with this signature challenge from the very beginning. While all the other bakers were placing their biscuits in the oven, Hermine was still putting her florentines in molds to make them uniform. She made mango and coconut florentines coated in ruby chocolate and decorated with spray-painted trees. Her practice biscuits had all been chewy, and she seemed surprised when the judges said they expected a snap to the biscuits. Her florentines looked rather messy due to rushing towards the end as the chocolate had not had time to set correctly. Her biscuits were also bent rather than snapped because they needed longer in the oven. The judge’s critiques were topped off when they even criticized the dried mango because it had not been soaked and so was like leather, although they did say they loved the flavor.

However, Lottie was truly a stand-out in this challenge. She went more traditional with her florentines. She made ‘quarantine florentines,’ using her grandparents’ favorite flavors, including chopped nuts, ginger, and sour cherries. These were then coated in dark chocolate. The judges were very impressed by her tempered chocolate’s appearance and proved that the judges love the traditional flavors providing they are done well. They found her biscuits delicious, and it even earned her the first Paul Hollywood handshake of the season after he said he couldn’t find fault with them. Paul even took a florentine with him when he left!

Technical Challenge

For the technical challenge, the bakers were asked to follow a recipe written by Prue Leith. They had one hour and 45 minutes to produce 12 hand-shaped coconut macaroons. They had to produce six that were filled and drizzled with chocolate and six that contained mango curd. Macaroons are a challenge because they are difficult to time in the oven. They need to be crispy and golden-brown on the outside but chewy on the inside.

The pressure got to the bakers when the recipe called for them to bake the macaroons until they were golden-brown. The bakers began to question what golden-brown even meant. The recipe did not indicate how long to bake the macaroons, so the bakers were all staring through the oven doors to carefully watch them baking.

Peter was the first person to take his out of the oven even though they weren’t golden-brown. Mak, Dave, and Mark seemed to leave theirs in the oven for a long time, making me worried that they would overbake them. The bakers needed to compromise between leaving the macaroons in the oven until they were golden-brown and having enough time to decorate them. Many of the bakers struggled to finish on time, including Rowan, who ended up freestyling on the chocolate decoration rather than the neat, fine lines requested (as seen below.)

Due to his macaroons being underbaked and his peculiar piping, Rowan came in eleventh place and Peter in tenth because of his macaroons not being golden-brown. Then came Marc, Lottie, Laura, Sura, Hermine, and Linda. Mak came in third because his macaroons were very uniform and had nice browning. However, his curd was a little too liquid. Despite being behind in his bake, Mark came second due to having problems with his mango curd, not thickening. His macaroons were crispy and delicious. Dave won out in first place because his neat macaroons had a good flavor and a perfect curd.

Showstopper Challenge

The showstopper challenge gave the bakers four hours to create a 3D table setting out of biscuits. They could use any type or flavor of biscuits; however, the difficulty of the challenge lay in the large volumes of biscuits needed and the task’s time management. They also needed to make sure that despite being molded, their biscuits didn’t become tough from being overworked.

Rowan made a ‘worse things happen at sea’ table setting with a lemon biscuit lighthouse-shaped hot chocolate pot (complete with flashing light on top) surrounded by Viennese biscuit sea creatures. Rowan admitted he had never completed it in the allotted time during practice, which completely frustrated Paul. Although he did finally manage to complete his bake on time, it was very messy and rough, or ‘rustic’ as he called it. The judges liked the flavor but said that the biscuits had been overworked and were like rubber. This left Rowan in danger of being eliminated this week.

Due to the nature of the challenge, there were many table settings made of gingerbread due to it being a strong biscuit, making it good for building. Peter made a ‘Burns supper’ table setting, celebrating his Scottish heritage. He created a gingerbread haggis, filled with Scottish raspberry and oat cranachan. He also created gingerbread plates, a brandy snap napkin holder, and an isomalt tumbler served with whisky. The judges thought his bake was delicious, witty, and very neat. It looked amazing!

Lottie also used gingerbread for her Viking table setting. She created a longboat and goblet from gingerbread and a brandy snap bowl. She struggled to unmold her longboat and was running behind. This led Paul to criticize her bake because although it looked impressive, it looked rather rough. Prue defended it by saying that since it was Viking, it could get away with looking as though it had just been dug up. Probably not a great thing to hear about your baking!

Mak strayed from the brief as he decided not to use molds but instead create flat biscuits to then assemble into shapes. He used gingerbread to create a cuboid teapot and cups for his Indian chai service, along with naan khatai on plates. The judges weren’t impressed with his deviation from the brief and this, alongside his display’s clumsy appearance and bendy biscuits, catapulted him to the bottom alongside Rowan.

Marc also used gingerbread to create his breakfast table setting for one. He created features including a plate with toast and jam, a toast rack, and a coffee cup. The judges thought his table setting looked amazing, and the only criticism they could find was that some of his gingerbread was a bit squishy on the inside because of how thick it needed to be for his items.

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Laura created an afternoon tea from gingerbread and brandy snaps, including a three-tier cake stand and teacups. However, Laura received some rather brutal feedback from the judges. Under each of her biscuits on the cake stand was plastic support. The judges weren’t impressed that she relied on supports rather than the cake stand being free-standing. They also criticized her minimal decoration, saying that they expected to see more from a four-hour challenge.

Hermine made a Japanese Sakura tea set with her teapot, cups, and tray made of spiced gingerbread. She decorated the tray with a gold stenciled design and her tea set with hand-painted flowers. Unfortunately, the judges criticized her decoration for being a little clumsy, but they liked the hand-painted flowers. But, they also found her flavors a little bitter.

Mark created a striking Ethiopian coffee ceremony. His cinnamon and coffee biscuits were darkened with edible charcoal powder to create his traditional coffee pot and cups. The judges thought his decoration was a little scruffy but that it looked good anyway. They liked his strong coffee flavor, even though Prue almost choked on it.

Dave created a table setting inspired by his trip to Mexico. He created chocolate and coffee-flavored biscuit plates and cups, along with a brandy snap taco tray and amaretti biscuit placemat. These were all strikingly decorated with the colors of the Mexican flag. Dave received outstanding feedback for this challenge. The judges loved his colorful display and thought he had done an amazing job on the molding, particularly his ‘Aladdin’s lamps,’ shaped using gravy boats.

Sura created a Ramadan tea set using ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper biscuits to make her teapot, cups, and chocolate truffle box. The judges weren’t overly impressed by Sura’s decoration as it was rushed and rather gaudy. However, she pulled it back by having great flavors and a good snap to her biscuits.

Linda made an unusual decision to create her high tea table setting from a rosewater shortbread, a relatively fragile biscuit. She aimed to create a teapot and two-tiered cake stand. Unfortunately, the cake stand had to become two plates instead because of the fragile biscuit. The judges admired her decoration but thought her biscuit was overworked.

Results

This week’s star baker was a close call between Dave, Mark, and Marc. Dave narrowly won, which was well deserved after his outstanding performances in both the signature and showstopper challenges and coming out on top in technical.

It was also a close call at the bottom between Mak and Rowan. Controversially, Mak was eliminated this week despite Rowan performing worst in most of the challenges. Rowan was completely shocked to have been saved. Paul had spoken in favor of Rowan because he was aware of his potential to improve if he stopped being so overambitious and not finishing on time. Hopefully, Rowan will take Paul’s advice next week and strip back his ideas!

Make sure you tune in next week for ‘Bread Week,’ where it looks like the bakers will be making rainbow-colored bread in the technical challenge. Also, make sure to check back here for the latest recap!

Lynette

Written by

Lynette has been a lifelong nerd and over the last few years finally learned to let her freak flag fly. She likes to dip her toe into almost every fandom but is particularly passionate about Supernatural, Stranger Things, Marvel and Disney. When she isn’t binge watching programs, she loves to swim, sing and (true to her Ravenclaw nature) read. Lynette joined the Nerds and Beyond staff in 2019 and loves sharing her nerdy knowledge with the world.

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