It was the quarter finals this week and there was much hype on Twitter about the difficulty of the challenges this week. I would have to agree. For me this was by far the best week. Biscuits was the theme and it was great to see the loose links to this because let’s be honest Miranda Gore-Browne in series one really did set the bar on this.
Crackers and Crispbreads
The contestants had to bake 48 identical crackers to start. They could be leaved or unleavened, use any kind of flour but above all they must be thin and produce a crack. This was a test of consistency. Mary was looking for a thorough crispness all the way over the top and then also on the underside. Paul was only interested in the flavour and the snap.
James and Cathryn decided on yeasted versions which meant they would be short on time as the flour would need to prove. It also meant there was more chance of the flavours not coming through.
It was really nice to see the range this week and I particularly liked the use of spices in most of the bakes. John with his Asian Spiced Crackers used cumin, coriander and Fennel.
Danny – original as always – bound her flour base with yoghurt and added Ras –Al Hanout and James used a polenta dough with cayenne, cumin and chilli. ‘What no whisky!’ exclaimed Sue in a disappointed tone.
It was also nice to see the techniques. Danny used the same technique as me which was to roll between two pieces of greaseproof paper. I would never roll cracker dough on a plain surface like Brendan did as I am fearful of sticking. He had however oiled the wooden surface and seemed to have no trouble lifted his identical pieces of. What amused me was his use of a workman’s measuring tape and a gardener’s spray bottle. It reminded me of when Ben from my series turned up with an enormous suitcase of spray painting tools. Oh the things we do for Bake Off!
There was just so much more attention to detail this week with everyone except Cathryn. She seemed ashamed to present them to the judges and quite rightly so. The rest of the group fared well and passed ‘The Hollywood Crack’ test producing a ‘nice bake and a nice break’. I think I would have been rather drunk by this point had I started a drinking game based on Mary saying ‘wafer thin’ as her comment was the same for each.
A wonderful and very proper technical challenge this week with teacakes as there is huge skills required across all the elements of bringing this iconic ‘biscuit’ together.
Firstly the contestants needed to produce a perfect digestive. No easy task I can tell you because the balance of thin and thick and then length in the oven is a difficult one. You can so easily loose the sweet flavour to a bitter after taste. The contestants were only given the oven temperature so it was all a guessing game as none had made these before.