Week two of The Great Australian Bake Off was biscuit or ‘bikkie’ week, as we like to call them in Australia. Biscuit week is often the most visually spectacular when it comes to the showstopper, because they’re really good for building things, but if I’m going to bake something, biscuits are not my go-to. In The Great British Bake Off, Paul and Mary like their bisuits crisp, which I’m sure is a British thing, whereas I like chewy cookie type biscuits. Yum. After I was really harsh on the judges this week, they seemed to comment on the actual quality of the bakes more this week, and Mel Buttle and Claire Hooper are settling into their roles as hosts, though they emphasise the puns too much. They should just say them really casually.
This week for the signature bake, our bakers were asked to make twelve identical filled biscuits. Last week’s star baker Angela made lemon melting moments, which were well made, but the judges thought that the filling was too sweet and needed more lemon in it. Our food historian James made orange creams and was told that he needed to put more cream in because it was delicious and they wanted more of it, which is pretty much the criticism you want to get. Mariana made lemon shortbread, which got great reviews for their tang, Brendan made something with chocolate, orange, cinnamon and caramel which sounded delicious, but apparently all the flavours didn’t go well together. Janice made Chinese New Year pineapple cookies, but Maggie and Matt felt that they were too sweet, and they were also underbaked. Sian made coffee yo-yos with fig and ginger jam – they were a hit. Suzy probably won the signature challenge with her signature heart shaped coconut biscuits with buttercream and raspberry jam. Nathan made German cinnamon biscuits that were nice, but his jam was too set. Meg made Jolly nog trees that were spiced biscuits with a white chocolate filling containing bourbon, so I immediately saved the recipe. Ben made peach and bourbon biscuits that were good apart from the chocolate ganache, which didn’t cope well with the humidity. Jasmin’s chai latte biscuits were too heavy on the white chocolate for Maggie, but perfect for Matt because he doesn’t like chai that much.
Technical Challenge: Cannoli
For the technical challenge this week, our bakers were asked to make twelve identical cannoli, which fall under the category of something I wouldn’t really like to eat – I’m not a big fan of pistachio. It was interesting to watch the judging because of the way they were made – the dough was put through a pasta maker to make sure it was thin, and then fried. In reverse order, the results were Brendan (he only made three cannoli despite his confidence at the beginning of the challenge), Mariana, Meg, Ben, Nathan, Jasmin, James, Sian, Janice, Suzy and Angela won the technical for the second week in a row. Maggie and Matt thought this was pretty impressive, but if you have good technique you should be doing consistently well in this challenge. Also Richard won Star Baker five times in GBBO last year.
Showstopper: Biscuit scene
For the showstopper this week, our bakers were asked to make a ‘biscuit scene’, which was a broad term for a design, and this is one of the best showstoppers that I’ve seen so early in the competition. The biscuits had to taste good and be structurally sound – the majority of the bakers used gingerbread because it’s perfect for construction. Nathan made a cranberry and gingerbread teacup with a chai ganache that he poured in – Maggie and Matt loved it. Brendan made some sort of gingerbread-macaron Picasso painting which was impressive, but I’m not much of a Brendan fan, so eh. Ben made a macaron tower, which was a tiered tray made of biscuits, complete with two different kinds of macaron: bacon and lime. He did quite well. Mariana made a Montenegrin winter scene, which was reminiscent of her father. She did a good job, and they liked the royal icing, but Mariana was quite emotional because of the meaning behind the bake and everything that was going on with her family. Jasmin made her dream bakery, complete with small breadsticks and cakes inside, as well as trees and a vegetable patch. James made the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which terrified him as a child, and his work was stunning until Claire somehow managed to break one of the biscuits. Sian’s black forest Victorian cuckoo clock was stunning, and she even went outside to find some foliage she could use for decorations. Janice made a Chinese lantern which unfortunately cracked, but it tasted great and her artwork was impressive. Meg made the Moulin Rouge complete with turning windmill, and it was a bit messy but tasted good. Finally, Suzy and Angela both made cake stand biscuits but from different perspectives, and they’ve been consistently good throughout the competition.
The star baker this week was Sian, which I found out when I was on the website during the technical challenge. It’s all well and good to get people to visit the website, but maybe don’t let everyone know who star baker is until after the episode has finished. Mariana went home this week, but it was a compassionate leave kind of elimination. She would have loved to continue, but with everything going on in her life, she said it was a relief. I hope everything is okay now Mariana, you were great. Once again Brendan got through by the skin of his teeth. Unlike GBBO, for some reason Matt Moran feels the need to tell the bakers to hug the eliminated contestant, which they would do anyway. He’s been on MasterChef, he knows how this all works. Mel and Claire just need to implement the Mel-Claire sandwich. Next week is choux pastry, so I can only hope that it’s the contestants making Adriano Zumbo’s croquembouche and burning their fingers off. The original croquembouche challenge is still one of the best episodes of MasterChef Australia. See you next week!