A Cracker of Signature Challenge
The contestants started with a dream challenge in my humble opinion - Biscuits for cheese. Something for everyone to show their baking personality. The challenge was to bake 36 savoury biscuits which could accompany cheese. This was a task about uniformity and attention to detail as well as flavour. Each biscuit needed to be a consistent size and bake and colour. They needed to snap to attention or crumble in the mouth.
I loved every single combo this week. I could quite happily buy a selection box containing all the wonderful flavours below. Perhaps the producers and the BBC could bring out a box just in time for Christmas? Which would you go for first with a nice glass of port?
So hard to pick a favourite among those but the prettiest were by far Kate's with a stunning dried apple ring on the top. If she had perhaps baked them separately and sandwiched it on top, she would have avoided a soft middle.
It was also lovely to see a traditional Gujarati 'Patlo, Velun' on screen from Chetna. This is the little, round wooden board (patlo) that she was rolling on with the thin rolling pin (velun) which I also used in week three for rolling elements of my bread basket. These rolling pins enable you to roll pastry or dough very thinly so worth investing in. Any good Indian grocer will sell these.
I think Nancy is going to bring us different gadgets every week and is destined to have her own business in kitchen equipment after the show as we saw the debut of the 'biscuit iron maiden'. An ingenious device that looked rather like an Ikebana kenzan and was used for pricking the biscuits before they went into the oven. Most of us use a fork but I liked her contraption much more.
Almost all were praised for their flavours. Jordan's were criticised for being burnt and of course he disagreed. Iain's had gone a bit 'overboard' with the za'atar, Diana's were 'too irregular'.
Those that stood out on the cooling rack were Nancy's which were 'exactly right', Norman's which were 'perfection' and received a man to man handshake from Paul and Richard's which were simply 'sorted!'.
Ice Cream Cone Interlude
I have missed the interludes. This week we learned about the development of the ice cream cone. In the early 19th century, many Italians who had moved to England in search of a better life, ran businesses making Gelato.
A scoop would be served in a 'Pennylick' - a short, sherry sized glass that would enable the customer to literally lick the ice cream and then give the glass back. Ewwwwwww! was what came to my mind and ewwwwww indeed as these glasses were banned in 1899 for causing spread of diseases. So a very clever Italian man invented a biscuit cone to put the ice cream in instead. It was made with a batter of flour, water and treacle and cooked like a crepe on a hot cast iron plate. As soon as it was cooked it would be twisted and rolled around a wooden peg to make a cone as it cooled and hardened. Genius!