Gerhard Jenne takes a look at the latest Great British Bake Off episode... and remains unconvinced.
Any keen bakers in search of a catchy name for their new venture could have picked up a few ideas during the latest round of GBBO’s Biscuit Challenge.
My ears pricked up when they told the story of the Peek Frean Biscuit Factory, inventor of the first non-docked biscuit. The Pearl, as well as the better-known Garibaldi were produced in factories in Bermondsey. Locals called it Biscuit Town, just the name for a niche biscuit bakery. In a preview of next week, Ian piped up the word “Doughverload” – any takers for a bread bakery with that name?
But would any of last night’s bakers have the mettle to start a biscuit or bread business? Judging by the latest round of baking I’m not convinced. So far the field appears average. No one is really consistent or has an outstanding eye for detail, such as previous winner Frances Quinn possessed.
Supermarkets beware; sales of dried cranberries are going to pick up after the first ever biscotti challenge. Almost every baker used them to jazz up their twice-baked Italian biscuit. Ian was commended for his orange and rosemary flavour duo, with Paul Hollywood musing on how the two added up to a gingery sensation. I have used thyme and lemon in pastry before and stewed my greengages in rosemary and cardamom for ‘Dodi’s Balls of Plenty’ but that’s another story!
Nadiya showed entrepreneurial resilience when she forgot the fennel in her biscotti mix. Rather than bursting into tears, however, she cleverly mixed it in with the chopped pistachios and produced a splendid set of 24 chocolate-dipped biscotti – Mary Berry was drooling.
Paul Hollywood had his sniggering moment when he unleashed the technical challenge on the bakers. Although I knew them by sight, I was as much in the dark with the name Arlette as the bakers were. My eyes are squarely set onto the choux pasty counter when I enter a French patisserie, ignoring millefeuille fancies and its poorer cousin the Arlette.
I’m quite sure the Arlette, along with the British Palmier biscuit, was invented using scraps of puff pastry. What baker would discard trimmings when there’s money to be made? Simply roll the cut-offs into a sheet, sprinkle with sugar (and cinnamon), fold or roll, in the Arlette’s case into an oval, then bake to a golden brown, crisp consistency.
It was mischievous to set the technical challenge in such a way that the puff pastry was made using the method where the butter is wrapped around the dough. Great for TV, infinitely messier and possibly the result of a patissier showing off his frigidaire! But without any noticeable difference in texture (as tested in college), not in an Arlette anyway – smothered in all that sugar!
It all came up sweet for Ian, who was crowned star baker, while Marie’s baking dreams went up in a puff!