GBBO: Biscuit Week

Written by Renate O'Connor

The Great British Bake Off has certainly been back with a bang, as the first episode drew in a massive 9.3 million viewers. The whole country’s gone a bit Bake Off crazy, with #GBBO trending on Twitter for most of the week and uproar emerging in the tabloids, after it was reported cake week’s star baker Marie has had professional training. With this being the search for Britain’s best amateur baker, you can see why some would think that’s taking the biscuit.

It’s not just us Brits getting in on the tent action though, as pop royalty Taylor Swift is also reportedly a fan. A source told The Sun (take from that what you will) that she gets her management to record each episode:

“She’s obsessed. After recently binge-watching the last series she’s now loving the current one, especially queen judge Mary Berry.”

“GBBO’s giving her new ideas for recipes in the kitchen which she’s already been trying out.

Now, I don’t know about you or Taylor, but I find one Bake Off fix per week just isn’t quite enough. So let’s look back at last Wednesday’s episode and discuss what went on with all those biscuits.

Signature Challenge

“If Mary was making a Biscotti, she’d probably go for a cranberry, a hazelnut and a chocolate. If I was making a Biscotti, I would go for a cranberry, a hazelnut and a chocolate.” – Paul Hollywood  

‘The male judge’ sure does knows what he wants. Did anyone go with that? Of course not. The first challenge saw the 11 remaining amateur bakers attempting to make 24 identical Biscotti. This traditional Italian recipe involves the biscuits being baked twice, which isn’t exactly easy. Tray flapping was out in full force as the bakers tried to cool things down, along with the mandatory oven stalking.

Nadiya impressed the judges with her coconut, fennel and pistachio Biscotti, although she did almost forget to add the fennel. It may have been more interesting if she had. Ugne and Alvin also did well, both creating nicely even sized biscuits.

Dorret and Tamal, in comparison, were definitely left at the bottom of the biscuit tin after both having a bit of a disaster with their flavours. Dorret added Amber Sugar Crystals (I have no idea what they are either, don’t worry) to her almond and apricot bake, which were so overbaked they almost sent Mary to the dentist!

Ian was the only real interestingly worrying baker of this challenge, after concerning the judges by adding rosemary to his orange and almond Biscotti. It was a tense moment when Paul and Mary dug their teeth in to taste it, but all ended well with Paul deciding he loved it.

Technical Challenge

“It’s a wee bit on the complicated side for a biscuit” –  Sandy

The technical challenge is always the trickiest part for the contestants and this week’s challenge was certainly no acceptation. The bakers had to produce eight identical Arlettes (yes, I had to Google how to spell that.) Most of the bakers, much like most of us at home, had never even heard of these biccies, which involved laminating the dough. No, really.

It’s here this episode finally started to pick up a bit. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy anything Bake Off related, but up until now we were really missing those ridiculous innuendos and major cock ups that we all know and love. (No mention of soggy bottoms yet at all this series!) So, when Marie didn’t even bother to check her oven was on correctly, I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear. She ended up with a raw batch, coming last in the judging. “In hindsight I should have checked the oven,” she concluded. Err, you think?!

That moment you realise you didn’t actually switch on the oven.

Posted by The Great British Bake Off on Wednesday, 12 August 2015


Dorret surprised absolutely everyone, including herself, by nabbing first place. Her Arlettes pleased Paul and Mary the most after she managed to figure out which fold and turn the filling needed to go into. Flora came in second and Ian third, whilst joining Marie at the bottom of the batch was ‘Other Paul’ and Nadiya.

Showstopper Challenge

“You’ve got to be a little crazy to put yourself through this” – Dorret

 The big one, the showstopper challenge. As always, here the judges are looking for lots of different flavours alongside an architecturally sound design. This week, they were after 36 identical biscuits, sitting in a box made out of a completely different biscuit recipe. Now, I really want to know where all these biscuits are going. Who gets all the leftovers and how do I get in on this?

Seven of the bakers chose to use a gingerbread base for their bakes. Nadiya tried to be that extra bit creative and designed a rounded gingerbread and cayenne pepper box, holding fortune cookies. It looked pretty impressive when she first showed us it but after popping it back in the oven for a little longer, it came out a flat hot mess. This, followed by Sue accidentally cracking it, made her pretty convinced she was about to go home.

Tamal created an exotic star anise flavoured box, with chequered shortbread biscuit which I really wanted to get my hands on. He’s a contestant who’s been left out of the limelight quite a lot so far. Is he boring or just not being shown? I haven’t decided yet.

Alvin didn’t have a great time with his gingerbread box and brandy snaps, after he just ran out of it and couldn’t even put the box together. It looked like Ikea flat pack furniture – an idea he probably should have just run with. I felt so sorry for him though as he started crying when showing his bake to the judges.

Flora’s honey and lemon tea chest with Earl Grey Tea biscuits was beautifully designed but unfortunately cracked. Mary could taste the tea though and Paul liked what he saw. Both ‘Other Paul’ and Ian created pink macaroons to go inside their boxes, which added a little bit of extra tension as ‘Other Paul’ quickly realised Ian’s were basically perfect. His cylindrical shortbread box was a thing of pure engineering as he’d brought along all these fancy homemade tubes to make sure his baked created the right shape. ‘Other Paul”s gingerbread box didn’t quite have as much wow factor in comparison.

Ugne took us back to her Lithuanian roots with her honeycake jar and cinnamon cookies. Her design had a fondant baby stealing cookies from the jar, which I thought was pretty impressive, but Mary wasn’t a fan of the ‘garish’ colours. Oh, and not forgetting silver fox Paul taking a leaf out of Flo Rida’s book when it came to tasting her cookies. “I don’t like them… I love them.”

Marie fell short again on her flavours and the quality of her design with her orange Russian box and cinnamon shortbread. Dorret displeased Mary to no end when she revealed the shortbread frogs featuring on her cocoa bean biscuits were made from a cutter. Outrageous!

My favourite bake was hands down Mat’s gingerbread fire engine. Yes, the fireman made himself an engine. It was pretty impressive and would be perfect at a kid’s birthday party (or mine – I wouldn’t say no.) He, like Flora, made a batch of Earl Grey biscuits to go inside.

Star Baker: Ian. After an impressive performance in all three challenges it really came as no surprise that this week’s star baker was the master macaroon maker himself. I think he was the only shocked person in the tent.

Going home: Marie. Yes, last week’s star baker is now the second to leave! Her lack of flavours, obviously forgetting to turn the oven on and lackluster design meant she was the next cookie to crumble. This came as a shock for many, including our very own TV Editor Alex’s group sweepstake!

Renate O'Connor, Kettle Mag, GBBO Series 6 Episode 2 review, Image: Alexandra Goode

Were you surprised to see her go? Let me know in the comments below. Tonight it’s all about bread!