Bake Off 2021, Biscuit Week: Speculaas Euripides

If you wanted to know what Damiano David would look like if he ran a thrift shop in Brighton, now you know!

As it’s Biscuit Week, I can safely assume I need to up the stakes of my threats to make every week Cake Week.

Snap, Crackle, Flop!

The Signature Challenge for this year’s Biscuit Week was for the bakers to make a batch of 24 brandy snaps, which seems like a thoroughly weird challenge to do with a signature round, it seems much better suits for a technical – in fact, it might actually have been a technical challenge once upon a time? I know it was on Celebrity MasterChef this year, so at least the bakers can rest safe in the knowledge none of them were quite *this* bad

Kem Cetinay’s all too phallic brandy snap has haunted my dreams for weeks now, I’ve genuinely talked about it to my therapist.

Really the only way that the bakers could customise their brandy snaps was with their fillings and their shapes and in true Bake Off fashion, a fair few of them just read the Starbucks signature menu for inspiration and then everyone else chucked in booze because that’s Prue’s defining personality trait at this point. And in Chigs’s case, he did both with his Espresso Martini inspired Brandy Snaps

and don’t they look an absolute delight? Those could quite happily sit in any patisserie display, they might need to be 5 times bigger for the likes of Patisserie Valerie in which if it can’t be used as a doorstop, it’s not truly worth selling. The judges are also full of praise for him, not least of all because he was looking at them like he was trying to melt their brains

My love for Chigs is almost as intense as his stare.
The one issue with his brandy snaps was the fact the coffee flavour was a little too weak, which I suppose is kind of a big deal for an espresso martini. The same certainly wasn’t an issue for Freya’s Cappuccino inspired brandy snaps which looked really cute

however their charming appearance belied the punch that lay within as when Paul just about gasped out “How much coffee is in these?” Freya responded in her true slightly airy way that there was 8 tablespoons of espresso powder in them, which is just about enough to reverse the effects of a horse tranquilizer.
For her coffee brandy snaps Rochica was drawing inspiration from her time as an Ibiza rep, which I demand to see represented in a 3 layer celebration cake in the final OR ELSE. I did think this meant we were about to get a batch of Jägermeister laced brandy snaps but apparently Rochica’s Ibiza club poison is… Bailey’s? I shouldn’t throw stones, I walk into a small village pub and somehow always manage to order a cocktail with a tiny umbrella in it.
As she was largely critiqued last week for a lack of finesse, she had taken the time to measure out the dough for each brandy snap to try and ensure their sizes were equal and uniform, which looked the case from this angle in which the NON-BRAND CORNET ICE CREAM appearance is very cute

however, once taken out you could have used them to pull straws to see who had to be the victim of Matt Lucas’s unquenchable need to sing

and nobody was more confused than Rochica who was giving me nothing but Confused Maths Lady Energy

she can at least rest safe in the knowledge that they tasted really nice and the extra tablespoon of NON-BRAND IRISH CREAM LIQUEUR she dumped in them paid off.
George was in a similar predicament with his Brandy Snaps filled with a Orange Blossom and Mastic creme pat looking a little bit like someone was mass producing severed toes for Holby City

he was quite down on himself over their appearance because believe it or not, they weren’t meant to look like the keepsakes of a serial killer with a foot fetish. So when the judges lauded the flavours, which were the most unique and interesting of the round, he was genuinely quite taken aback and as it’s only the second episode and everyone is still getting used to having to bake everything in under 2 hours, he should be a little easier on himself and if he doesn’t, well I’ll just have to stan harder.

The Espresso Affray wasn’t the only heated battle going on in the tent as Lizzie and Crystelle found themselves locked in a competition to see who could produce the best apple pie inspired brandy snaps. And Lizzie was raring to go as she informed us she had her “fast shoes” on, which you might be forgiven for thinking would be a pair of trainers – they were in fact a pair of floral crocs because this is Lizzie

well, that’s where Usain Bolt has been going wrong all these years, a pair of crocs and he’d have shaved another second off his records.
Lizzie’s inspiration was more specific than Just An Apple Pie, she was drawing inspiration from A Famous Fast Food Chain’s Apple Pie – I personally blame the show being sponsored by Aldi for the weird side stepping of mentioning a brand’s name even once.
As with last week, Lizzie was Lizzie’s own worst enemy as she introduced her brandy snaps as “congealed”

I mean, she’s not wrong but she didn’t have to say it!
She had a little struggle making the brandy snaps as her mixture just didn’t bubble while it baked meaning that they didn’t taken on the required lacey appearance and she looked as murderous as I think Lizzie is capable of looking about it

and I don’t blame her because Crystelle’s had come out pretty damn perfectly

they don’t get wildly more praise for their flavour than Lizzie’s did though, which is probably down to the fact Lizzie used Calvados and Crystelle opted for apple cider vinegar.

While Lizzie opted for the modernity of A Definitely Not McDonald’s Apple Pie, Maggie was going thoroughly classical with her brandy snaps because who has the time to faff about with fancy flavours and aesthetics? Well, that’s Maggie out in Week 5, yeah? Her brandy snaps were filled with a blackcurrant creme pat and all looked almost comically small

her use of a classic brandy snap recipe had also meant that they had gone a little bit soggy, but by this point it was honestly more of a blessing to not hear Paul Hollywood’s crunching his way through something, sweet misophonic relief.
Amanda also had some mixture issues, not least of all because she whipped up her first cream filling into a boulder of accidental butter

As for her brandy snaps, they spread a little bit too much, thus being incredibly thin and all too fragile for Paul Hollywood’s galumphing gorilla hands

they do very much like the flavours though, Paul Hollywood apparently being a big fan of stem ginger – the more distressingly cut the better

I am now going to be nervous every time Amanda picks up a knife because that cutting has the same unhinged energy as the walnut chopping jump scare in Hereditary.

Taking on the Chai Spice Baton from Crystelle’s Mini Rolls last week was Jurgen who had spent a considerable amount of time apparently trying to perfect his chai spice blend and I have no doubt in my mind that an exhaustive spreadsheet was invovled

and that’s German efficiency.
As it turns out his recipe involved 50 grams of cinnamon, which was just about two whole jars and I thought we were heading for another Norman’s Lavender Moment but apparently Paul isn’t as sensitive to nose searing amounts of cinnamon as he is to enough espresso powder to power a small car. I am not advocating that you fill your cars with a Costa Character Roast Espresso in the midst of the current fuel shortage. But let me know how it works out if you do!
As was expected, Jurgen’s brandy snaps came out absolutely flawlessly with not a dud amongst them

surprisingly Paul doesn’t force feed him several and make him critique his own work again.

While Jurgen, I imagine, spent months on that chai blend rather than you know, reading a recipe, Jairzeno played tropical fruit roulette by picking three random tropical fruits from the hotel’s continental breakfast fruit bowl and thought he’d make it work – this time ending up with lime, passion fruit and pineapple. I didn’t say it was a good continental breakfast.
I knew these were going to be cursed the moment Jairzeno uttered the phrase “lime and chocolate ganache” – chocolate and citrus is a terrible combination and I will not hear otherwise. And then he began spooning it into his brandy snap baskets with all the grace of someone who was trying to be eliminated

and well, the final result wasn’t exactly an oil painting

given the whirlwind her served them up in, I suppose we should just be relieved that they’re in tact and not spilling out everywhere. The taste of them doesn’t go down particularly well with the judges as while they like the concept of them, it’s all a little too strong and unbalanced.

Lastly we have Giuseppe who had made the curious decision to make his creme pat filling first to ensure it had time to cool, which Prue and Paul desperately tried to psych him out about as though he isn’t an engineer who probably did this challenge 5 times in a single day the week before the competition started. And for someone who dropped a tray of his brandy snaps while putting them in the oven, they all looked pretty damn amazing

they were inspired by his favourite ice cream flavour: Gianduja, with Gianduja basically being fancy, region specific, Italian Nutella. It’s like I’m deliberately trying to anger the Italians. While the hazelnut flavour was extremely prevalent, the chocolate taste was lacking for Paul, but I’m not sure the chocolate was the point so I think that might have been on purpose?

An Unofficial Brandy Snap Ranking

  1. Jurgen’s Chai Spiced Spreadsheet
  2. Chigs’s Almost Accidental Professional Standard
  3. Crystelle’s Perfect Apple Pies
  4. Giuseppe’s Fancy Italian Brandy Snaps
  5. Freya’s Deadly Cappuccino
  6. Rochica Draws The Short Straw
  7. Lizzie’s Boozy Happy Meal
  8. George’s Tasty Severed Toes
  9. Amanda’s Achy Breaky Brandy Snaps
  10. Maggie’s Classically Soggy English Brandy Snaps
  11. Jairzeno’s Fruit Bowl Thievery

It’s Jam Hot!

For this week’s Technical Challenge, the bakers had to spend 2 hours constantly being reminded to not say Jammie Dodgers under any circumstances as they set forth on a vain endeavour to recreate a batch of Jammy Sandwich Biscuits That Definitely Aren’t Jammie Dodgers™ – they couldn’t even call them Aldi’s Belmont Jammy Wheels, which seems like a slight after they’ve paid £4million to sponsor this show.

Of course the bakers had to make their own jam as well as the biscuits and Crystelle watched hers like a hawk determined to win the village fete’s jam making competition only for her vigilance to be rewarded with exceptionally little jam but a whole sieve of seeds

and then only to rub salt into her wounded jammy pride, it took on the texture of a fruit pastille left in the car cubbyhole for too long.
Thus begins what I imagine will be a long and bloody feud between Crystelle and the Conserve Community as her biscuits land her firmly in 11th place, only beating Rochica who had one of the most disastrous technical challenges we’ve ever seen and yet remained delightfully calm and positive throughout the whole ordeal. I mean, I might have given up if I had burnt my jam within literal minutes of the challenge starting. But it was her biscuit making endeavour that left A LOT to be desired. She wasn’t aided by the fact they were obviously doing this on a very hot day, making the shortbread mixture incredibly soft and hard to work with, causing her to give up on even vaguely trying to properly cutting out the biscuits and just whacking them in the oven like so

is it too early to declare her The Disaster Baker of the series? Because I have never seen such a definably chaotic good act in the tent for years. As for her second batch, well Matt and Noel called 5 minutes until the end and without a trace of panic anywhere to be seen, Rochica calmly said “I’m just going to bake these, I’d rather have a baked biscuit than nothing.” and then whacked in a batch of biscuits to bake for 3 whole minutes so it’s no wonder that there is no footage to be seen of Prue or Paul taking a single bite of her Round Jam-filled Biscuits™. She should really have done what everyone else did and hid all her sins beneath a shroud of icing sugar

we might then have had a Lisa Faulkner vs Scallops incident in which Paul Hollywood puts a raw biscuit in his mouth and subsequently sees the face of God beckoning him into the void.

Because it was such a warm day, of course everyone was taking things in and out of the fridge, which gave Amanda the unique opportunity to take Freya’s biscuits hostage

Let’s just say karma is a horse.
One of the key elements of the biscuits are the signature swirled pattern on their top, which promptly didn’t become a real part of the judging criteria because seemingly everyone failed to achieve the swirl because we’re making them bake in a tent in the midst of a mild heatwave. However, nobody had a more miserable time than George who looked ready to throw the stamp across the room

I wonder if whoever filled out the health and safety form had thought of that being a possible incident and how close they came to requiring everyone to wear crash helmets as a preventative measure.

On entirely the other end of the spectrum were Giuseppe and Jurgen who continue to be locked in a competition to be Mr. Continental Baking Champion 2021 with Jurgen just clinching the win and Giuseppe coming in second, at least it’s an improvement on his malt loaf.

An Official Definitely Not Jammie Dodgers Ranking

  1. Jurgen’s Domination Continues, Apace
  2. Giuseppe is the Jammie Bridesmaid
  3. Freya’s Jammie Hostages
  4. Amanda’s Jammie Hostage Takers
  5. Maggie’s Jammie Circumferences
  6. Lizzie’s Pile of Icing Sugar
  7. Chigs’s Petite Dodgers
  8. George’s Aggressively Stamped Jammie Circles
  9. Jairzeno’s Jammie Flat Earths
  10. Crystelle’s Jammie Feud
  11. Rochica Just Made Biscuit Dough

Throwing Your Toys Out

Rounding out Biscuit Week was yet another biscuity showstopper challenge designed by pulling a random adjective and a random noun out of a hat, this time the challenge being to create “An Interactive Toy” – by my roll the 2022 biscuit showstopper will be to create a life-sized biscuit sculpture of your favourite Horrible Poet. I might apply just so I can make a Speculaas Euripides. Leave your favourite horrible poet in the comments below! Like! Share! And subscribe!

As far as the interactive component went, the judges just wanted a piece that could be picked up or for the sculpture to move in some way which did mean that this week the bakers were once again working as engineers and their success largely hinged on how much access they had to a shed. I was a little surprised that Giuseppe went relatively simple with his idea and just made a Reversi board, granted it’s a lovely looking Reversi board

I thoroughly recommend reading up about the history of Reversi, it is the most needlessly dramatic series of events involving numerous false claims of invention and ownership over a game that is by all means, exceptionally rudimentary in concept.
The judges obviously admire the finish and the fact we went so far as to think about the grooves the counters are kept in, as well as his flavour combination of cardamom and cloves.

Fellow Dad of the Year, Jurgen had a bit of a dilemma in that he didn’t really grow up with many childhood toys except for the windmill his grandfather built for him and his brother which I imagine they used to play such thrilling games as Don Quixote jousting windmills and… Dear Brother, I Need More Grain. His childhood toy may have seemed simple, however he had set himself quite the task with making the tallest structure in the tent – whether this is before or after Amanda kneecapped her horse wasn’t specified. He pulled off the task though

although that wheel house at the top looks prepared to jump any second now! The judges note that his biscuits aren’t particularly sweet but they were fans of the flavour, and perhaps that matches the windmill’s origin story.

While Jurgen’s may have been the tallest, it was Crystelle who had the most parts as she set about making a 50 piece vanity case complete with a sugar mirror, twinkling lights and what we are assured are definitely lipsticks

the bravery to make a lipstick anything on this show after Candice did it in the Christmas special to expected results

Hey, Twitter had fun with it.
It’s not the most interactive design, sure there are lights but it mostly relied on you being able to pick up the pieces but the judges appreciated it for just being an impressive piece of baking-cum-craftsmanship and her poppy seed and lemon gingerbread was well received.

Maggie having grown up as a post-war child didn’t have much access to toys and so because a potato with matchsticks for arms isn’t exactly the most interactive thing in the world, she had to get a little creative and so was instead revisiting the Biscuit Landscape Scene from a previous series and making a gingerbread beach holiday. MAGGIE, HOOP AND A STICK WAS RIGHT THERE!
The judges of course raised a few eyebrows about whether or not the sea is a toy – it is not, it is an erotic being of immense power that we should fear. Paul does offer a prompt that “a bucket and spade are toys.” which Maggie does not even remotely pick up on and ploughs on trying to make the beach her toy. The result being deemed “a little too messy.”

and this is a sign of the monolith that Bake Off has become because I fully believe that in any series before Series 5 on The BBC, this would have been lauded for being perfectly cute, thicc gingerbread men and all. We all appreciate a chonker.

Jairzeno was in a similar boat (heh) to Maggie both with his nautical theme of making a model ship and the result being a little too ramshackled

personally I would join the crew of The Queer Anne’s Revenge in a heartbeat! Who wouldn’t want to sail around plundering the world of all its riches in a ship that looked like a hyper-pop nightmare?
It obviously wasn’t the finished product he wanted it to be, mostly because it was missing a sail

the resigned look in his eyes when it fell, he knew all too well that he was a goner this week. Although Amanda was making a valiant attempt in the other corner of the tent as she set about making a rocking horse. Her biggest mistake was the complete rejection of gingerbread in favour of an American sugar cookie building material, which did her poor horse’s kneecaps no favours

Freya, who I was completely unsurprised to learn was a horse girl, did sweep in to help mend the poor stunted pony with the emergency surgery not going brilliantly by any standard

it’s very My Leper Pony: Shortbread is Tragic.
The judges greatly lament the fact that had she pulled this off it would have been one of the best biscuit bakes they’d ever seen in the tent, which is maybe true? The biscuit week showstoppers are so ridiculous that I usually just eviscerate them from memory, so sure Amanda’s Could-have-been Rocking Horse is the best biscuit sculpture ever.

It didn’t particularly help Amanda’s equine shame that Freya had also made a gingerbread horse and it looked pretty phenomenal

the bravery of Amanda to go up against a German in a battle of the Black Forest Gateaux and then the horse girliest horse girl you’ve seen this side of the Atlantic in a gingerbread horse showdown is admirable. I fully believe that Freya could have made that horse in her sleep. Prue did note that her gingerbread was a little bit too hard, but given what happened to Amanda’s horse, clearly it needed to be.

Coming in to the Showstopper, Rochica was having to do a little catching up after literally just serving them some raw biscuit dough slathered in jam in the technical. Her grand plan being to make a fully functioning pinball machine, which she pulled off pretty well, I just think her colour choices were a touch odd

When I think of pinball machines, I think of wild, lurid and neon colours, this is very 80s wood clad living room. But I’m glad she pulled it off because she’s a sweetheart, even if Prue broke the game with but a touch, giving us the full Christmas Morning experience.

George was the only baker embracing motorisation, his bake being a model plane that would rotate on a sort of miniature rotary clothesline which gave him a lot of grief. Personally, I felt rather intense nostalgia for the plane stuttering and lagging like it was part of an online flight simulator in the late 90s

And in order to fix it he roped in Lizzie, which might be the bravest thing anyone has ever done in the tent

despite seemingly stacking the odds against himself, the plane did in fact move correctly by the time it came to putting it in front of the judges

the kourabiedes below it are apparently clouds and not a threatening close rocky outcrop – also the plane didn’t require very much biscuit so he had to do something extra, and of course they were flavoured with brandy so Prue was all over them.

George’s glamorous aviation assistant, Lizzie was also going for a transportation theme with her toy truck. You might think that the interactive part of the biscuit toy truck might be that it could be wheeled around a bit. Nope, Lizzie just made a paint palette to sit next to it and then made Prue paint the car

which is quite the Bake Off power move and I do in many respects have to tip my hat to Lizzie for gaming the system slightly. Prue might have enjoyed painting the truck but she did think the gingerbread was too gingery but it would probably have been just fine with some tea. Unfortunately for Prue, nobody took the hint and made her a cuppa.

Lastly we have Chigs who was making a miniature snooker table and apparently drew the short straw in Rochica’s Game of Erratically Sized Brandy Snaps meaning he had Matt Lucas sing Snooker Loopy at him, this time not in German. Chigs’s final piece was really rather impressive

and to think he only started baking like two minutes ago!
The judges are also mostly impressed, although Paul notes that he’s missing a row of red balls and Prue thought his biscuit was a little cakey, which sounded like a complaint and then she said she liked it?

An Unofficial Biscuit Nonsense Show Stopper Ranking

  1. Freya’s Missed Opportunity to Make a Seabiscuit Joke
  2. Jurgen’s Windmill of Limited Possibilities
  3. Chigs Having to Endure Snooker Loopy for 5 Takes
  4. George’s Little Plane That Could
  5. Crystelle’s Big Vanity Project
  6. Giuseppe’s Well Engineered Boardgame
  7. Rochica’s Muted Pinball Machine
  8. Maggie’s Beach Needs a Clean Up
  9. Lizzie’s DIY Paint Job
  10. My Leper Pony: Shortbread is Tragic
  11. The Sinking of the Biscuity Bismark

With three very successful rounds under his belt, Jurgen continues what is fast becoming Jurgen’s Drag Race, maybe someone else can have a win as a treat?

I am also thrilled to reveal that his son decided to pick up the phone this week. No news on how Humphrey feels about it all.
Meanwhile it was a toss up between Jairzeno, Maggie and Amanda as to who was about to kick the Bake Off bucket with them finally deciding to take pity on Amanda’s equicide and Maggie’s basic beach which did mean that Jairzeno was sent out to sea on his incredibly not watertight boat

he might be sad but the hotel is a little relieved that the fruit bowl will be that little less depleted every morning.

And so, 10 tent-bound bakers remain

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