If it's Week 2 in the Great British Baking Show tent, it must be time for biscuits.
There's something very comforting about tradition, and for most of its ten seasons (even the ones America hasn't seen), the first three weeks of the Great British Baking Show have followed the same pattern: Cakes, Biscuits, Bread. A few early seasons tried to mix it up, notably Series 3 (PBS Season 5/Netflix Baking Show: The Beginnings) and Series 4 (Season 2). But these staples of British baking are the fundamentals every contestant should be able to handle — no use in sending someone into Victorian Week if they can't bake a biscuit first.
This week's Signature bake demands our 12 remaining bakers each produce 12 Decorated Chocolate Biscuit Bars, "with little chocolate coats on," in the words of Noel. That's a dozen dozen biscuits, enough to supply tea trays for probably the entire filming staff. This kind of biscuit, by the way, is a relatively recent arrival in history, the idea of biscuit in bar format didn't gain popularity until just before World War I.
Once again, these results are rated on a simple Pass/Fail metric.
- Michelle Bakewell Bars Pass. Twelve perfect matching bars that take like Bakewell.
- Amelia Pistachio, Almond & Raisin Nougat Biscuit Bars Fail. They're "rustic" and underbaked.
- Henry Coffee, Cardamom & Hazelnut Bars Pass. They've got a nice shine, and the flavors are great.
- David Coco-nutty Chocolate Bars Pass. They're messy but tasty.
- Michael Lemon & Rosemary Biscuit Bars Pass. Chunky but neat. He nearly collapses in relief.
- Steph Chocolate, Caramel Macchiato Biscuit Bars Fail. The texture and flavor are terrible.
- Phil Orange, Cranberry & White Chocolate Fudge Bars Pass, but barely. Messy, hard to cut, but good flavor.
- Helena Wicked Witch Fingers Fail. Prue says they're too ugly to eat. Paul declares himself bored.
- Alice Honeycomb Peanut Mallow Bars Pass. Perfectly uniform, excellent flavor.
- Priya Ruby Barfi Biscuit Bars Fail. Underdecorated and the chocolate coating is too thick.
- Jamie Cherry Caramel Shortbread Biscuit Bars Fail. Sandi calls them "like biscuits after an earthquake." The taste is "sickly."
- Rosie Virgin Mojito Biscuit Bars Pass. Perfectly feathered and Prue loves them.
Five failures! Oof. Helena is in high dudgeon over being told her bake was boring. (I'm with Prue, those green fingers were too ugly to eat.) Let's move on the Technical Challenge and see if anyone can score redemption. Paul sets it, saying it is "a favorite of my dad's." They're making Fig Rolls! They're like the better, high-end homemade version of the Fig Newton, for those who have never had one. They're also not strictly biscuits. Though technically sold as biscuits in the U.K., and patented as cookies in the U.S. back in the 1880s, the coating around the fig center is quite cakey. The original Egyptian delicacy was more like a mini-cake, which explains why.
Once again, the bakers have to make a dozen of them, all uniform. Let's run them down from worst to best.
12. Helena: She only made eleven.
11. Jamie: Paul compares it to a sausage roll. Ouch.
10. Steph: Dough is mottled.
9. Amelia: It's overbaked
8. Michelle: Flat, uneven.
7. Priya: Too much ginger.
6. Henry: Too small and too gingery
5. Rosie: They're not identical
4. Michael: Flat.
3. Phil: Flat but good.
2. David: Too round but otherwise perfect
1. Alice: Pastry's perfect, all identical
Jamie and Helena are facing the bottom of the barrel this week. The others are probably safe, as long as there's no crash and burn on Showstopper day. Speaking of which, this week's Showstopper is a 3-D Biscuit sculpture. Once again, this means we're going for a total artsy free for all, where the bakers can go in any direction, just so long as the medium is delicious biscuits.
"Be the Michaelangelo of Dough!" proclaims Noel. Sandi's face at that rhyming not-actually-a-pun suggests she's been physically wounded by how bad it was landing so close to her. I need someone to build a biscuit shield for Sandi to protect her for the rest of the season.
Sadly, no one takes me up on it. Instead, here's what our bakers did.
David’s Wedding Spray: Delicate and the minimalist decorations are stunning. Prue calls it excellent, Paul loves the flavor.
Michael’s Hamish the Highland Cow: It's supposed to be a cow, but it's an abstract gingerbread square cow. Paul doesn't mind, calling it ingenious, but the gingerbread is underbaked.
Henry’s Chapel Organ: The result doesn't begin the reach the ambition, and when asked where the keyboard is, he stutters that the cover is closed. Still, the pipes are delicious, if a bit on the thick side.
Steph’s Ginger the Cat: Paul calls it "The cat version of a Gingerbread House." He means it nicely. The gingerbread is slightly overbaked.
Phil’s Tina the Tortoise: Prue likes the way the legs splay out, but Paul says the biscuits are way underbaked.
Amelia’s Swimming with Dolphins: It's cute, but crude. Paul says the dolphin isn't recognizable. Prue isn't happy with how she built it.
Rosie’s My Favourite Chicken - A Celebration of Legs: Rosie's favorite chicken is my favorite chicken. And Paul and Prue's too, though the gingerbread is underbaked.
Priya’s The Beast of Rocky Mountain: Prue calls it astonishing. Paul says it's a work of art. Unfortunately, the biscuits are tough.
Michelle’s Dewi y Ddraig Cymraeg: Back to back dragons and Michelle's is the clumsier one visually, but her biscuits are far better.
Alice’s Chocolate and Coconut New Zealand Lamb: I am dead of cute. He's the best sheep ever, made of macaroons, and they taste great too.
Jamie’s Biscuit Guitar I don't have to tell you this is a crude disaster, right? Because it is. Prue calls it "all a little thick and clumsy." But the flavor is good.
Helena’s Caught in a Spider's Web: On the other hand, Helena has saved herself with her spider. Prue calls it the most sculptural of all the bakes, and Paul says it's magical. The flavor works too. Paul gives the spider to Noel.
Alice is the clear winner today, no surprise she takes home Star Baker. As for who is going home, Helena saved herself with that spider. Sorry Jamie, your time in the tent is over.