A man can show no greater love for his wife than to get the house tidied, the dishwasher emptied, the laundry sorted and the telly on, all ready for instant Bake Off when we got home tonight.
It is even more impressive as Jason spurns Bake Off in favour of hiding in his man cave, shooting at things and drowning out the sounds of us panicking in unison as biscuit towers topple or…
When tuiles go bad….
with Troy ‘Hollywood’ McLure.
So, tonight’s episode of the Great British Bake Off was biscuitastic.
You can watch it here.
The first challenge was a signature tray bake. The key to a top tray bake is distinct layering and evenness, and in this case, each bit of the tray bake looking like the other bit of the tray bake, even when it has been prised out of the tray prayerfully, lubricated by your hot, salty tears.
That rules out my signature bake which is mostly signaturised by its entirely random and haphazard nature and the fact that it is a miracle if I can get it out of the tray in one bit, whatever flavour it turns out to be. For example, I have only managed to get brownies out of their tin successfully since investing in the Rolls Royce of tins, which actually comes apart around the brownies. I wept when I found out someone had invented this, honestly and promisedly I did.
Tears of joy.
Baking is a very fraught and emotional process, even if you’re not in a tent surrounded by starey eyed sheep and sugar crazed squirrels who are prepared to chew through space shuttle grade plastic to get their fix of Demerara.
My theory that the bakers, after spending so long swaddled in damp canvas together, share a kind of hive mind when it comes to deciding what to bake, was borne out this week by the abundance of Bakewell tray bakes on offer.
I want food scientists at McVites to do some kind of experiment to prove my theory. I am imagining Paul and Mary under stringent laboratory conditions, in separate rooms, possibly in different buildings, both wearing canvas hats in the shape of pyramids (to mimic the shape of the tent), being put through a series of punishing signature bakes by men with enormous foreheads and biscuit crumbs in their top pockets, to see if they both come up with the same thing week after week.
I bet they do.
Canvas – the baking equivalent of those ESP cards with little weirdy signs on they used in Ghostbusters.
I was a little disappointed by the tray bakes, I have to confess. I am not a big fan of the Bakewell. Regular readers may remember of the trauma of the Bonfire Night party in which granddad was instructed to go out and return with ‘pudding’. Pudding which turned out to consist of an entire carrier bag stuffed to the rafters with boxes of Bakewells in mind boggling numbers and flavours that I feel slightly sick thinking about it, even now – after many years have passed.
I was more impressed by Glenn’s bake, not just because it wasn’t a Bakewell, but because he attempted to make something with enough melted chocolate to bring Belgium to its knees, topped with home made marshmallow whipped up in a mere two hours, when apparently it takes six.
Making marshmallow immediately brings to mind a challenge on The Generation Game back in the Seventies when several couples were pitted against each other to make it, and carnage ensued – in nylon kaftans.
Which is as bad as it sounds.
I did worry about Glenn, lack of nylon kaftan notwithstanding. Marshmallow is sticky and temperamental (much like my children), and Glenn is quite a hirsute chap. I had visions of globs of gelatinous gluey mallow sticking random items of kitchenalia to his fur and refusing to come out.
I thought the finished bake was an absolute triumph despite Paul calling it grotesque. My feeling was that Paul clearly hadn’t spent enough time in this house to be qualified to make a call about the nature of the grotesque. Consequently he is now banned from using this word again, unless he can measure it against the great bourbon biscuit disaster of 1991, and find it wanting.
I have spoken.
The technical challenge was to make two types of tuiles.
You may, as I did for many years, have been labouring under the illusion that a tuile was a type of net petticoat, or possibly some kind of Georgian body warmer for the ladies, as sported by historian Lucy Worsley in her attempts to show us that life was not all Farrow and Ball paint charts and swooning at men in lawn shirts clambering out of lakes – but no, the tuile is a fancy French biscuit you mostly find on the side of your coffee cup in up market patisseries and the like.
I like ’em well enough, but there’s not a lot to ’em considering the amount of sweat and stress that goes into making ’em. They’re all a bit fur coat and no knickers in my opinion. I could have eaten every single thing the bakers made in under five minutes at the end of that challenge and still been a bit peckish.
That’s not a biscuit – that’s a tease dipped in chocolate.
The tuiles proved Kimberley’s undoing. She had only just been talking about some complex Japanese idea of improving upon perfection whilst grinning confidently in a field, and to be faced with a slate full of crumbling biscuitry could not have been easy. It proves one of my other baking theories, that you should never count your tuiles before they’re twirled.
The show stopper round was to create a tower of biscuits.
Now, I am a woman who likes to keep up with the world of baking – constant testing – that is my motto, and I have never heard of a ‘tower of biscuits’ before, except possibly in a very exciting dream I might have once had.
I wonder whether Paul and Mary were scraping the bottom of the biscuit barrel here, in terms of ideas?
I mean, I have nothing against the notion of a tower of biscuits. In fact, I am all for it. The more towers of baked goods there are around the better in my opinion, especially if they’re positioned near me, but still…
A tower of biscuits?
I suspect that’s what Frances thought, when her needle of haberdashery style biscuits snapped in half just before time ran out and Mel was left holding the biscuit bodkin and trying to make like she was a biscuit version of herself so that she could stay put.
I felt quite sorry for Frances this week. She triumphed with her cross between millionaire’s shortbread and banoffee pie, which seems like a match made in baking heaven to me – and her tuiles were not a total disaster, so to fall at the final hurdle was devastating. You could see her lip quivering, and she’s usually such a trouper, even when Paul criticised her matchbox.
Which is hard for a woman to take at the best of times.
Christine triumphed this week with a Swiss chalet crafted entirely out of shortbread. I preferred Howard’s pagoda made of tea flavoured biscuits that he had wowed his parents with only the week before.
I love Howard with a passion that remains undimmed. He reveals layers of eccentricity previously unknown as every week progresses. Watching him from episode to episode is like having a prolonged but marvellous game of pass the parcel, with Howard as every prize in between the layers of paper.
Enough Howard worship for one blog post. Let us move on to dark and dangerous things.
The biscuit tower proved Rob’s undoing.
His Dalek crafted lovingly out of biscuits and edible glue cemented his doom. Everyone imagined his nerdy, space loving, eccentricity would prove to be the making of him, but his Dalek turned on him in the end – which should be no surprise to anyone who knows anything about Daleks – unsociable little blighters.
To mix my science fiction show metaphors, space did prove to be his final frontier, and he returns home while everyone else goes into warp speed for the sweet pastry round next week.
I canna hold her cap’n.