The Great British Baking Show: Season 3 “Biscuit Week”

“Have another biscuit.” -Nell, Legend.

Week Two in the Tent, and Americans have sat down for the third season in a row of having to accept the idea that the proper name for “cookie” is in fact “biscuit.” With only one challenge under our belts, it’s still a matter of feeling out the contestants, and seeing whose successes last week were mostly a fluke, and who might actually be the real deal.

Snapshot - 18

Last week Marie took Star Baker, while Dorret’s crash and burn was given a pass due to Stu’s complete thick-headed behavior. One of those turned out to be a massive fluke. The other, well, let’s just say I think we’re all a little concerned for Dorret, and hope she pulls it together for Bread Week.

This week’s Signature Challenge was proof that “biscuits” have a far wider meaning than just cookie, as the bakers were asked to make the biscotti recipes they’d been practicing at home. The Technical was a French cookie known as an arlette–the flat pinwheely cookie that’s known in America as an Elephant Ear. The episode rounded out with a Showstopper that requires the contestants not only to bake three dozen cookies, but also bake a container, out of a different style of cookie, to present them in.

marie begs

Some interesting notes for the Signature round included Ian going off the reservation with herbs, Alvin bringing in jackfruit, aka that large green knobby thing no one ever buys in the fruit and veg section, and Ugne doing the alcoholic honors by using white wine as an ingredient for a food that Americans only ever eat in coffee shops. Also, the double baked nature of biscotti meant we got double the oven kneelers and what felt like an entire tentful of cutting board fans all being waved by contestants at once.

Let’s run down the results.


Snapshot - 1

  • Mat: (Pistachio, cranberry&white chocolate biscotti) Pass. Mary said they looked like soldiers standing at attention.
  • Nadiya: (Coconut, fennel&pistachio biscotti) Pass, despite forgetting to add the fennel into the mix, having them as a topping turned out to be better.
  • Marie: (Biscotti italiano) Fail. Topping wasn’t set, biscotti was bendy.
  • Ugnė: (White wine biscotti) Pass. High marks from Paul Hollywood.
  • Alvin: (Jackfruit, pistachio&macadamia biscotti) Pass. Everyone loved the jackfruit.
  • Sandy: (Chocolate chunk&hazelnut biscotti) Pass. High marks from all around.
  • Dorret: (Almond&apricot biscotti with amber sugar crystals) Fail. No flavor.
  • Tamal: (Cinnamon, maple&cranberry biscotti) Fail. No flavor.
  • Paul: (Chocolate, hazelnut&fig biscotti) Pass. Extra points for chocolate which is harder to get right.
  • Flora: (Wedding biscotti) Fail. Flat and not matching.
  • Ian: (Orange, rosemary&almond biscotti with a zabaglione dip) Pass. Paul is bowled over by the rosemary.

The Technical required several major skill sets including the horror of laminating, puff pastry type layering, and a point where they have to chill it in between steps several times before turning into a “book” shape. Oh and at one point they literally take butter, roll it out and then wrap the dough inside.

Snapshot - 2

11. Marie: Only got four of eight finished
10. Paul: Overbaked
9. Nadiya: Underbaked
8. Tamal: Butter poured out, failed lamination
7. Ugnė: Wrong cinnamon layering
6. Alvin: Rolled wrong way
5. Mat: Butter melted before lamination
4. Sandy: Too thick
3. Ian: A bit too dry
2. Flora: I thought they were perfect personally
1. Dorret: They looked a touch messy, but the judges gave it the win

The Showstopper required two types of cookie–one of the box container, one for the cookies themselves. Most of the contestants chose to make their boxes out of gingerbread, so we basically had gingerbread house making–only Ian and Flora did something different–their boxes were shortbread. Time management was also the other major issue–Alvin, for instance, completely failed and had to choose between finishing box or cookies. Nadiya also had major problems, but was accidentally saved when Sue accidentally crushed her dome lid, so the judges had to give her more of a pass.

Snapshot - 19

And then there was Dorret…. well, her final product looked great, but she also used “cookie stamps.” (Cookie cutters.) Mary was clearly appalled.

Let us drool.

Snapshot - 3

Ian’s Cylindrical shortbread box and macaroons Practically perfect in every way.

Snapshot - 4

Flora’s Honey and lemon box and Earl Grey tea biscuits. Deemed a touch too ambitious, and the lid cracked.

Snapshot - 5

Alvin’s Gingerbread box and brandy snaps Box arrived looking like an IKEA flat pack. He cried.

Snapshot - 7

Marie’s Orange Russian box and cinnamon shortbread Box was just alright. Cookies were boring.

Snapshot - 8

Sandy’s Sun-dried tomato & cheese biscuit box and parmesan ‘sandwich’ Biscuits Flavor wasn’t there, but it looked great.

Snapshot - 9

Tamal’s Star anise flavoured box and chequered shortbread biscuits Loved the box flavor, and the checkered shortbread were perfect.

Snapshot - 10

Ugne’s Lithuanian honeycake jar and cinnamon cookies with fondant baby Hideous. Mary called it garish. At least they liked the cookies inside.

Snapshot - 11

Dorret’s Green Tea gingerbread box and cocoa bean shortbread frogs Paul said the flavor of the stamped cookies was awful.

Snapshot - 12

Nadiya’s Cayenne gingerbread vessel and fortune cookies Paul absolutely loved the box flavor. The lack of decor was a problem especially when they realized it wouldn’t have been decorated properly even if Sue hadn’t screwed up the lid.Snapshot - 15

Paul’s Gingerbread box and pink macaroons Mary thought the macaroons were overstuffed, but they liked the box.

Snapshot - 17

Mat’s Gingerbread fire engine and Earl Grey tea biscuits Paul Hollywood was like a little boy who got a fire engine for Christmas.

Ian took Star Baker, in what Paul Hollywood called a straightforward decision. They were not pleased with Dorret, but her Technical win was enough to save her. In the end, Marie went home for being too in her comfort zone. but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. One day you’re Star Baker, the next week, you’re out.





One thought

  1. The British are simple folk who use biscuit to cover what more sophisticated peoples divide into biscuits (savoury), cookies (sweet), and crackers (flat for cheeses and soups).
    To call a chocolate chip cookie and a luscious buttermilk biscuit by the same name shows a lack of linguistic exactness and precision.
    They bake good though.

    Love the recaps and the live tweets. They should have you doing studio voiceover on the shows or at least have you in the Washington PBS studios during pledge breaks. Seriously.


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