In the second week of Season 4 of The Great British Baking Show, the 11 remaining contestants tackled three very challenging biscuit recipes: Iced Biscuits, Viennese Whirls and a 3-D Gingerbread Story.
Here in Wisconsin, hearing the word “biscuit” reminds us of chicken, glazed ham, gravy and doggie treats. So, we’re calling this week’s challenge what it really is: Cookies.
We put our local bakers to the test, asking them not only to follow suit and select one of these cookie varieties to tackle, but to add a Wisconsin twist to their creations. We know that you’ll be impressed!
Before we unveil our six new featured bakers for Week 2 below, let us quickly recap the latest episode. If you haven’t watched it yet, this warning is for you: Spoiler alert!
ROUND 1: ICED COOKIES
The contestants were welcomed back to “the tent of dreams” with a Signature Challenge that inspired creativity and consistency: 24 identical Iced Cookies.
Best Cookie Sound: Michael’s beer mug creations delivered the perfect “crack” of cookie on the plate.
Favorite Mary Berry Deprecating Word: “Informal.”
The Disasters: Kate mixing together two flavors that Paul Hollywood admits he “is not very fond of.” Followed by Mary Berry accusing her cookie dough of smelling “medicinal” — although she changed hearts and minds at the end. Louise dumping her cookies on the floor while taking them out of the oven. Andrew hearing the judges use the double whammy of “soft” AND “stale.” Oy.
The Highlights: Tom’s Spiced Chai Frappelattechino Biscuits, period. Besides sounding absolutely delicious, he earned an official man-to-man handshake from Paul Hollywood. Catching Mel Giedroyc cleaning flour out of Michael’s ear was awkwardly awesome. Val pausing to actually consider if she can serve the cookies that she just dropped on the floor.
The Takeaway: Mary Berry’s advice to “not be too ambitious” seems to translate well to all aspects of life.
HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID:
When we saw Louise making sheep-shaped Baa Bara Brith Biscuits on the show, we secretly crossed our fingers that our local bakers would make cow cookies. Well, and we were not disappointed! Kevin from Viroqua said he was pleasantly satisfied with his German Holstein Cookies, as was Jill in Hudson, who said she worked hard to perfect the black royal icing.
Since the first day of summer hit during this week’s challenge, depicting Wisconsin’s rolling lush hills on a cookie seemed quite appropriate. And that’s just what Elizabeth in Park Falls did, glazing her Sweet Fields Lemon Biscuits in the perfect shade of green. If you are quenching your thirst with fresh lemonade, don’t miss Team Kramer’s mouth-watering Summertime Lemon-Lime Cookies made in Wauwatosa. They shared this lesson learned: avoid adding lemon or lime zest to the icing if you plan to use decorating tubes … even “if it sounds like a good idea at the time.”
While contestant Kate struggled with her swallowtail butterflies, Jill in Hollandale presented gorgeous orange sulfur butterflies inspired by her fields in summertime.
Tapping family roots, Michaleen in Portage baked traditional Norwegian Pepper Cookies (cinnamon, white pepper and cardamom) with lingonberry and lemon icing — adding a proud red “W” to the glaze in honor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The most creative award goes to Sharon in Columbus, who decorated 25 cookies with different Wisconsin-proud symbols. Well done!
Euchre and cookies anyone? A perfect Wisconsin pair. The Coffee Crisps baked by Karen in Monona used honey from Anisoptera Acres in Waterloo.
ROUND 2: VIENNESE WHIRLS
This Technical Challenge based on Mary Berry’s recipe seemed easy enough — it’s basically a fancy Oreo, right? While the ingredients for the cookie are simple, the trick is to get your butter really soft in order to pipe the batter out in even swirls that keep their whirl after baking. Then have fun with the fillings.
The Disaster: Paul Hollywood immediately spotted some “issues” when scanning over the finished lot, including Candice’s cookies that appeared “almost raw.” Other words you don’t want to hear: flat, broken, thin, collapsed, oily … and dinky.
The Highlight: Mel agreeing that Raj’s batter was especially stiff … and then offered up her warm hands. (And then he produced some very small cookies.)
The Takeaway: Temperature and proportion are key. And if you arms are sore at the end, you’ve done well.
HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID:
Lots of buttercream and maple syrup infused this week’s cookie recipes, while Amanda in Stevens Point stirred in honey from Amherst hives for her Woodsy Wisconsin Whirls (alliteration wins extra points)! Cranberry was a favorite jelly filling, alongside fresh strawberry, elderberry and cherry. Karen in Niagara was lucky enough to have a jar of Lautenbach’s Orchard Country chopped cherry jam in Door County at hand.
Kristel in Madison thought to add some Spotted Cow to her jam and icing … can’t go wrong with that!
Like several of the show contestants, many bakers agreed that piping the batter into whirls was the most difficult part of the challenge. From overly firm batter to wrong size star nozzles, our local bakers persevered through hardship. Ruth in Oshkosh even said she questioned her mental state during this step while making her Sm-more Swirls: “My hands cramped, my arms shook, and I questioned my sanity for putting myself through this in order to have a cookie.”
We agree with Alaina in Milwaukee, who added: “Even after a long day at work, there is always time to bake. :)”
ROUND 3: A 3-D GINGERBREAD STORY
This 4-hour Show Stopper challenge really pushed everyone to their limits, with walls crashing down all around.
Morbid Moment: Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry breaking the head off of Val’s gingerbread sister.
The Highlights: Selasi using gumdrops to make stained glass windows for his ginger church. Andrew sharing his childhood pictures of baking gingerbread and then creating the “Santa’s workshop from hell.” Candice’s gingerbread pub inspired by sticky carpets of her youth — leaving Mel Giedroyc completely thrilled that she would, indeed, be including a pub dog inside. Excellent.
The Disasters: Louise thinking it was a good idea to portray her wedding day out of gingerbread.
The Takeaway: It doesn’t seem too therapeutic to depict a near death experience out of gingerbread. And, wow, Candice proves you can bake gingerbread in some killer heels.
HOW OUR LOCAL BAKERS DID:
First of all, a big round of applause to the two bakers who took on this difficult challenge.
The gingerbread story made by Rebecca in Stevens Point is “udderly” adorable, depicting a farm to honor all the dairy farmers across Wisconsin. The dome to her grain silo was especially impressive.
And Molly in Green Bay reflected on the memory of attending her first Green Bay Packers game at Lambeau Field with her gingerbread story titled, Packers vs. Cookies.
Star Baker: Candice
Kicked Out of the Tent: Louise
Meet Our Six Featured Local Bakers for Week 2:
Joshua in DePere
Skipping summer, Joshua was inspired by the Wisconsin State Tree radiating autumn. And he admitted to decorating these in the dark!
Jill in Hollandale
Orange Whole Wheat Butter Cookies
Inspired by the orange sulfur butterflies that flutter over her fields, Jill’s cookies are welcome to fly over to our plates.
Kevin in Viroqua
German Holstein Cookies
From the pasture to the plate, the German Holstein Cookies made by Kevin are a pure Wisconsin delight.
Jennifer and Joel in Sun Prairie
And We’re Hooked
Jennifer and Joel whirled their cookies towards the savory side, adding Hooks Seven Year Sharp Cheddar and tomato jam.
Kristel in Madison
Using fresh rhubarb and basil from the garden, Kristel’s Wisconsin Summer whirls were twisted together with a tad of Spotted Cow!
Rebecca in Stevens Point
In honor of dairy month in Wisconsin, Rebecca transformed her gingerbread into an adorable farm.
We hope you will join us for our Week 3 Challenge: Bread! If you need inspiration, you can watch the bread episode of The Great British Baking Show online now.