The search for Britain's best amateur baker, with Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, is halfway through. Eight bakers remain, and they are tested on their biscuit-making skills.
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Week four of our search to find Britain's best amateur baker.
We've had tiered celebration cakes, magnificent platters of tarts and enough bread to feed 5,000.
Or loosely translated, enough bread to feed Mel and myself.
We started with 12 bakers and now there are eight.
Welcome to the Great British Bake Off.
Britain's home bakers have come together in this,
the ultimate test of their baking skills.
To win you need to be able to perform across the board.
I haven't left the house. Locked in my kitchen.
Last week was bread.
It's a bit scary. You just want it to work. You want it to be right.
And Paul's expectations were high.
-Someone's not been following my recipe.
-The whole thing's collapsed.
Yasmin really impressed and was named star baker.
Well done, Yasmin.
But Urvashi and Ian didn't make the grade and were sent home.
This week, the bakers take on biscuits.
I don't know if I can bear to look at them.
It looks very dishevelled.
And these bite-size delights prove too much for some.
This is the worst they've come out.
Please, God, let me finish.
Yes, things are getting serious, for this week the contestants
will be getting themselves into a right royal flap...jack.
Today the bakers are facing biscuitgeddon.
It's the fourth round of the Bake Off. This week, it's biscuits.
Our bakers will need to prove they can deliver outstanding bakes
in three increasingly more testing challenges.
Tomorrow, for one person,
their dream of becoming Britain's best amateur baker will be over.
Welcome, bakers, to this, the halfway mark of the Bake Off.
So well done for getting this far,
but there's no time to relax, because it's time for your first challenge, the signature bake.
So what the judges would like you to do is to make 12 biscuits
to your own very distinct flavour combination and, of course,
you have to remember that the ideal biscuit, well,
is something that Mel and I will trough, but also has a distinct bite.
So it's not too soft, and it's not too crumbly.
You have one and a half hours on the clock.
-On your marks.
Unlike cakes or bread, a biscuit is much more delicate.
Unforgiving in the oven, within seconds they can catch and burn,
ruining both taste and texture.
To achieve perfection requires precision.
The humble biscuit can be quite deadly.
Easy enough to bake, you think, but, actually, to bake them
all the same colour with the same flavour is extremely difficult.
The biscuits should be crisp, and if they're meant to be chewy,
they should be chewy. They should all be uniform in shape.
It should tempt me to eat it, and when you break it,
it should have a perfect texture and be done right through.
The essential biscuit ingredients are butter, sugar and flour.
When I was practising, I made these biscuits about twice.
The first time they were OK, a bit overcooked.
But the second time they came out and tasted a lot nicer.
Well, not a lot nicer, they were nice the first time.
Jason taught himself how to bake from the age of just 12.
His signature biscuit is called a lebkuchen,
which is a traditional, soft-spiced German treat.
They're not that hard. They're softer, which I'm worried about.
I don't know what the judges will say. They've got spice in them.
I'm using mixed spice and cinnamon,
and with chocolate on the top. It's a nice combination.
Rob grew up with baking.
His mother taught him how to cook from the age of ten.
My brother and dad would go to the football and I'd stay at home
and help my mum make pastries. It was great.
For one Christmas, and I've still got beef with this,
my sister got a rolling pin, a little child's rolling pin,
And it had "Hannah" on it. I never had one. So Hannah had a rolling pin. Mum had a rolling pin.
Well, where's mine?
Today he's baking a family favourite, chocolate and ginger oat biscuits.
Chewy on the inside with a crunchy exterior.
My granny always used to have them at her house.
We always used to call them rejects.
It's cos they don't come in a packet. They come in a see-through bag which reminds me of home,
and just it being warm and comforting and nice.
The biscuits I'm making today are grandmother's biscuits,
so they're the sort of thing that I'd sit in front of the telly with,
a cup of tea, and something I love to eat.
Hopefully the judges will enjoy them.
Ben's hoping for success with his crunchy version of stem ginger nuts,
which is a recipe he learnt from his grandmother.
-Good morning. Good morning. Good morning!
What's in these?
It's basically flour, ginger powder.
There's a piece of stem ginger and also some candied ginger in there as well.
-So a lot of ginger flavour.
-What temperature do you bake these at?
-These are going to be baked at 190.
-For about ten minutes.
-But there is a look and feel thing, so I don't want them
to be too brown on the edges and burnt underneath.
Flour and eggs keep biscuits together.
When the proteins in them are uncooked, they are small,
tightly-coiled, separate strands.
But heat causes them to unravel and fuse together to form a solid mass.
Concentrating on the appearance this week,
so fingers crossed it all works out.
Sausage-fingers does dainty!
Mary-Anne's signature biscuits are called Melting Moments.
The high butter content and use of cornflour gives them
a crumbly, melt-in-the-mouth quality.
I chose it because it's an anytime biscuit.
You wouldn't have to go out and do a special shop
if you wanted to make this, because you could literally
open the cupboard and pull out what you need.
Once again Mary-Anne is showcasing her love of using
inventive techniques to turn her biscuits into something special.
Before I put the dough in the piping bag
I did a stripe of red food colouring down the side,
so I think it's the same principle of toothpaste.
I'm going to put them in the freezer now for 15 minutes,
and that will sort of freeze them,
so that when they go in the oven the heat of the oven will hopefully cook the swirls a lot quicker
and retain some of the nice shape.
Holly is also making a delicate, melt-on-the-tongue biscuit.
I just thought these were the sort of biscuit
that you might serve at an afternoon tea for ladies.
Using home-made jam and custard cream as the filling,
she's named hers Strawberry and Custard Melts.
-Oh, you've piped them already. That was quick.
-How have you made the mix, then?
It is creamed butter, very, very soft,
with a bit of icing sugar.
Instead of the cornflour, a little bit of custard powder and plain flour.
-So it's kind of one-mouthful delights.
-Those are tiny, delicate.
-They're very delicate.
-They're very small, aren't they?
-But when you've got two together, with the filling,
I personally think that's enough.
-And you're making a quick strawberry jam?
-How are you doing that?
You haven't got much time to do that.
-Are you doing a very small amount?
-Oh, she'll do it in no time.
-It's four minutes.
It's a bit girlie, isn't it, the hearts?
So I like the hearts.
Jo's signature bake is a recipe she developed herself,
a lightly-fragranced and crumbly lavender biscuit.
Everyone will like them, but it's a really different flavour,
because lavender's not something that you come across every day,
but I really like them. I think they're really summery and a lovely flavour.
In last week's bread round, Yasmin dazzled the judges
and was named star baker.
Up until last week I felt that I'd gone relatively unnoticed.
I was like, you know, flying under the radar a bit,
and now there's pressure because they'll be looking at me more.
Yasmin has chosen to bake a chocolate chip and pistachio biscotti,
which are Italian dry twice-baked biscuits.
A biscotti, you can add so many things to it,
whether it be honey, walnut, pistachios, but it's all about the baking.
-You've got to get that crisp,
because if you don't get that crisp it's not a biscotti.
Bakers! One hour has gone. You've got half an hour to go.
I've got two more to do, then I can shove them in the oven.
The success of their biscuits rests heavily on that critical baking time.
I hope they bake well.
I hope they don't get overdone like they did at home.
It's very easy to over-bake biscuits.
You lose the consistency across the batch and they'll be overcooked.
It's a waiting game and a praying game.
And hoping that it's actually going to do what it needs to do
and look fantastic, and everything goes to plan.
So, fingers crossed.
Now, delicious as those biscuits in the tent look,
they won't do your waistline any favours.
But back in the 18th century,
eating biscuits on a diet was actually encouraged.
In Georgian Bath, one particular biscuit
became part of Britain's first ever calorie-controlled diet.
Well, the whole of the 18th century is a century of appetite,
so the mealtimes, in particular, are about excess, copious quantities
of cream, cheeses, syllabubs, jellies,
and, of course, lots of wine, port wine.
All of this excess led, of course, to swelling waistbands,
indigestion and gout.
There was a nation of extremely unhealthy rich people.
One medical practitioner believed that the solution lay not only
in bathing in the waters,
but in his invention of a new, low-calorie diet.
Dr William Oliver decided that he would develop a biscuit.
And this biscuit has now become known as the Bath Oliver biscuit.
It's a very unusual biscuit with almost no sugar in it at all.
It's low in calories, and with this biscuit, Dr Oliver thought
he could control the waistlines of the wealthy
and he could aid digestion because the biscuits had yeast in them.
For 15 years, Dr Oliver prescribed a diet of Bath Oliver biscuits,
eaten whilst sat in the spa water.
By reducing his patients' excessive consumption,
he dramatically improved their health.
Shortly before he died, Dr Oliver bestowed his secret biscuit recipe
to his long-serving coachman, Atkins.
He then decided to mass market the product,
and set up his own biscuit baking business.
Over 250 years later, the simple savoury biscuit has become
a popular addition to a cheese board.
And in complete antithesis to Dr Oliver's original enterprise,
is now available completely covered in rich dark chocolate.
20 minutes to go.
The biscuits are still in the oven,
but time is running out.
The trouble is that when you do them at home, you don't look in the oven all the time,
you just trust they're doing. Here, you become neurotic, and I'm trying to resist the temptation
because it's irrevocable anyway, now.
Ben's keen to do his grandma's ginger nut recipe proud.
With the sugar and everything that's in them, they can occasionally catch.
So I've done a few at home, and some of them
were a little darker underneath than I'd have liked.
So what I want to try and do is just make sure that I get a nice, even bake.
A nice colour on the top.
And there's lots of things I'm looking at.
So I'm watching them like a hawk.
I'm reasonably pleased with how they're looking.
I'd like more of a crack on top.
But it is actually, you know, it is getting it, it's fine.
I'm one of those people who like to prod and poke and see if everything's OK.
And actually, I've got to resist and just not touch them
cos they disintegrate really easily.
This was given me by a very dear aunt who died in '96,
and she gave it me when my children were small, for Christmas.
You know, to put stuff on.
So I always use this plate for these biscuits at Christmas.
Janet's making her own invention, Christmas biscuits.
A festive favourite using marzipan,
which has a tendency to ooze out when baked.
It's because the marzipan expands inside
and there's no room for it, except coming through the top.
No-one can control volcanoes.
You've got ten minutes to go.
Ten minutes to go, gang.
I don't know whether to put chocolate on or not,
cos I don't know whether they necessarily need it.
I don't know whether it's just a bit of a bad idea.
I'm trying to cool my chocolate down
but I don't want to put it in the fridge cos sometimes it can go a little bit white in the fridge.
So I just want to try and set it.
-Good morning, all.
I've just got the decoration left to do.
So I'm going to... I still haven't decided what I'm doing.
This is your signature biscuit.
This is something you make often and so you should know how to finish it.
I did at home. I'm still throwing ideas round. There'll be chocolate and mixed peel on top.
-He's always working...
-So wait and see.
-So you're finished now, essentially. You're just finishing them off?
It's not just a normal buttercream, is it?
No. This is a variation I found called Depression Era buttercream,
which is, rather than using just sugar and butter,
it's sort of padded out, almost,
with a flour and milk mixture that's cooked until it's thickened.
Is this the Great Depression in America in '30s?
I think so, yes. I found several people commenting online that their mothers made it
or their grandmothers made it.
So you've essentially made a contemporary austerity biscuit.
-For the credit crunch times.
I'm going to drench these in chocolate.
I've thinned it down with a bit of vegetable oil.
Just put a nice thin layer over all of it.
But I don't want too much chocolate, or it'll be overkill,
cos the biscuits are thin.
White, unlike milk and dark chocolate, contains no cocoa solids,
but instead, the fatty content of the bean - cocoa butter.
This, mixed with vegetable oil, creates a loose consistency.
The white chocolate probably won't set in time. I'm going to flash it in the freezer for what time I have.
That's one minute to go, bakers.
They've just got to cool now.
Just a little bit of purpley colour to show the lavender, and a little bit of gold.
Just for my finishing little bit of sparkle.
There we go. All done.
Time is up, ladies and gents of the baking world. Your time is up.
The bakers must now face judgment for their signature biscuit.
A festival of daintiness.
They look like little gems. They look really pretty and sweet.
They've lost some of their shape in the oven.
If you wanted a little bit more definition you could have fridged them before you baked them.
-And you had plenty of time.
-Mmm, that is melty.
-It's got a good melt.
-It's got a good colour. The flavours are great.
-The taste is actually great. You are getting the ginger.
-The middle is scrummy.
-The only thing is, they're slightly over-baked.
And if you move along here, this one's very over-baked.
That's why it wasn't at the front!
-So you basically tried to hide that one?
-Yeah, that was just being covered up a bit.
This is Miss Marple here you're dealing with.
We are looking for originality,
and this is a family recipe that you really enjoy.
You've done a lot. You're totally confident with.
You have a beautiful flavour. I love the marzipan.
I'd like to have seen a bit more colour lifted up on the top.
The appearance of the top is lovely. That nice crackle on the top.
-You've caught a few of them there.
Yes, you have. For my taste, I think it's slightly over-gingered.
But I like ginger and I always have, so my ginger nuts are always a bit
hotter and my grandmother's ginger nuts were always a bit hotter,
-which is why I've put quite a bit of ginger in.
-I like the flavour of ginger,
-but the burn that comes is, for me, too much.
These I think are a very good example of something that's really
difficult to make, but I would have liked a lot more nuts in it.
The thing about a biscotti is it's dense with flavour.
-And you've got large areas of big, empty crust.
The texture's excellent.
It's very, very good, but for me, a biscotti should be absolutely
-rammed full of whatever you're putting in there.
What's making it bitter?
It's lavender. But it's not a lavender you recognise.
-It's a very difficult thing to use, lavender.
-Yeah. I just thought
I like them and I just thought it was something different.
It's just not working, that lavender, is it?
No. I've nearly finished one and I'm not getting it coming through at all.
Is this the way you wanted them to look?
Once I decided how I wanted them to look, this is it, and I'm very pleased with how they look.
You're very pleased. For me, it doesn't look like a biscuit. It looks more like a pudding.
The chocolate didn't need anything with it, if it was a thin coating.
The flavour of that cinnamon with the mixed spice is very strong.
Jason, this doesn't work, really.
-The look of them, they look great.
I'd never have thought of putting colouring in, just a swirl.
-Mmm, it's beautiful.
-And the filling is good.
I think the flavour of the biscuit is baked extremely well.
It does melt. The flavour in that is really nice as well.
It looks very professional.
-Thank you very much.
-I'm just going to keep this for research purposes.
The judges felt Mary-Anne excelled with her signature bake.
But Jason, Ben, Yasmin and Jo failed to impress.
I'm really, really happy with the biscuit
and the comments they made, and it turned out just the way I wanted.
If my gran was here, she'd probably be chasing Paul down the road,
cos those were an old family recipe.
We love ginger.
I didn't think they were too hot.
So, watch out, Paul, cos Gran will probably be after you.
After the originality of the signature bake, the second challenge is a technical one.
The recipe the bakers are about to be given is a complete surprise.
It's the technical challenge.
Now, Paul and Mary have chosen a special challenge for you today,
and as we all know, they will judge it blind.
Paul and Mary, if you would please vacate the tent, thank you very much.
What we'd like you to do is to make 24...
OK. We need them to be of equal colour.
We need them to be of equal size
and we'd like them filled with whipped cream.
We are giving you just one and a half hours on the clock.
On your marks. Get set.
Bake them snaps.
Brandy snaps are tubular and lacy brittle biscuits flavoured
with ginger and usually served filled with whipped cream.
Unlike the name suggests, not all recipes include brandy
as an ingredient, including this one.
Bakers are all given the same ingredients and a basic recipe.
If they are to produce successful brandy snaps,
they must use their baking knowledge to fill in the gaps.
I chose brandy snaps because it's all about timing and precision.
It's really accurate weighing, to start with.
That's the most important thing.
And it'll be very easy to see who has got it just right.
The recipe requires butter, sugar, syrup,
sifted flour with ground ginger, and finally, lemon juice.
One of the things that they've got to concentrate on is dissolving the sugar,
and you have to have patience to do it over a low heat,
and you just do it with a wooden spoon
so that you can feel no grit at the bottom of the pan.
There's a danger that the mixture can burn or caramelise.
Then they must take it off the heat and cool it for a moment,
cos otherwise, if you add the flour it could go in lumpy.
Then the little bit of lemon juice.
I've never made these before, I'm well scared.
I was talking to my mum this week and we were talking about what the technical challenge could be,
and the first thing that she thought it could be is brandy snaps,
and she said, "Just in case, just make sure you watch a video
"or something of how to make them." And I didn't get round to it.
So I'm a bit gutted.
I went through Mary's baking bible and chose all the things that I had never made that looked difficult.
And brandy snaps were the only one I managed to actually end up doing.
I guessed right, so that's good.
Ben's signature bake was not as well received as he'd hoped.
I'm really disappointed, actually.
Not going to over-think it.
I'm just going to crack on with this and hopefully redeem myself somewhat.
So how do you pick yourself up when you get news like that?
With me I just get on with it.
Whether I do well or not, I just get on with it.
You are Teflon, Jason.
-Never made a brandy snap before?
-Never in my life.
-Ever eaten a brandy snap before?
-I don't think so.
Teaspoons of the mixture need to be spaced at least 10cm apart
to avoid spreading into one another.
"Place four portions of mixture on the Bake-O-Glide."
How much is a portion?
Oh, it's getting too complicated
and I've only got an hour and a half!
20 minutes in, and the first of the three batches of snaps
go into the oven.
I'm a bit concerned about the timings, cos it's a lot -
24, when you can only get 4 on each.
It's a lot of trays to get in. I need to get more trays going.
With just half an hour left to go in the technical challenge,
the batches of the brandy snaps are at their most critical stage.
I think maybe burning them could be quite possible
cos of the high sugar content.
It's like when you make caramel.
They bake in the oven for around about eight minutes, or until
the mixture is well spread and dark golden.
Jo is experiencing problems as her batch lacks colour and is still soft.
I thought if I just followed the recipe, they'd be all right.
If brandy snaps are over-cooked or undercooked,
they will not curl properly.
It's just not gone right today.
Rob's found his own method of shaping the brandy snaps.
Rob, what went wrong here, love?
No, no, no. It's not what's gone wrong, it's...
I'm cutting them out using a cutter.
Oh. These are quite weenie.
Mmm, I figure if they were all exactly the same size.
And brandy snaps, kind of, are so sweet, though.
-They're meant to be like a two-bite kind of thing.
-I just think they look quite nice.
-Yeah. No, absolutely.
The hardest decision to make is when to start curling.
You've got this little window of about a minute between them
being soft enough to roll and too brittle.
No, don't sink, don't sink.
Need asbestos fingers.
It's just very painful. It's almost like torture.
It's so frustrating.
Jo is still baffled that her brandy snaps looks nothing like they should.
The strict time limit of the technical challenge
leaves no room for error.
Oh, what it might have been is my oven was on the wrong temperature.
My oven was on defrost.
I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.
But I didn't think to look at the oven because, you know,
I thought it would be on the right temperature.
I really hope that I don't go home over such a stupid mistake.
The final stage is filling the brandy snaps.
Bakers, keep those nozzles piping.
You've got ten minutes to go.
But the snaps must be cooled first, or the cream will melt.
Please, please, please. Where's the breeze when you want it?
Oh, gosh, it's hard to fill, isn't it?
Oh, no. Oh, oh, gosh.
Don't do this to me.
One minute to go, bakers.
Please, God, let me finish.
OK, that's time up, everyone. Time is up.
If you'd like to bring your brandy snaps up and put it just behind the picture of yourself.
The judging of the technical bake is unlike any other challenge.
As Mary and Paul have seen nothing of the baking process,
they won't know whose is whose.
They come in all shapes and sizes, don't they?
I want to see which one's got the best snap.
Shall we start here, then, Mary?
-They're nice and lacy.
-It's very thick, though.
I think they're too big - it's been slightly overdone.
The colour's very dark.
-These ones are a lot lighter.
-They're all different sizes.
Someone's been hiding things at the bottom.
They don't snap.
A brandy snap should snap.
These are sort of cocktail-sized.
Why are they so small?
It's crisp, but it doesn't have that snap quality,
-which is what you want.
-It's too small for the amount of mixture.
Very inconsistent. There's no consistency in colour. The flavour's OK.
The flavour's OK and it's lovely and crisp.
This is a mess.
Something's gone wrong here.
They're too pale.
They're like rubber.
These look rather nice.
These look great, actually.
We have to go to the bottom to see what's there.
They're all consistent in their shape, aren't they?
And it's got a good crunch.
These are consistent in size.
They're thin. They're crispy.
Just a little bit under-whipped cream.
They're all pretty much the same length.
-Now we have to decide.
Mary and Paul must rank all the brandy snaps
from the worst to the best.
OK. We've made our decisions,
and the person in last place is this one.
-Jo, basically it was under-cooked.
-Mix went a bit wrong.
You need to leave it in the oven longer.
Well, I turned my oven on to defrost by accident.
Ah, that doesn't help!
And the next one in line at number seven is this one here.
These are very tiny little people.
I cut them out so that they were all exactly the same size.
Well, that is an unnecessary occupation, really.
And in sixth place is this one.
-Very inconsistent. Some of them are soft. Some of them are crispy.
-Some haven't been in the oven long enough.
-And in fifth place...
These are over-baked. They look lovely and lacy,
but they were a bit hard.
-And the next place is this one. Number four.
Janet, these aren't bad. They're a bit inconsistent with colour.
And in third place...
These are a beautiful, even shape.
It was very tricky, actually, between first and second,
but it was purely based on consistency of colour. Number two is this one.
Mary-Anne, not bad. The cream wasn't whisked enough to sit inside.
That leaves us with just one.
And this is in first place. HE LAUGHS
Baked to perfection. Beautifully lacy. What more could we ask?
Well done, everyone.
I was very shocked. I was really excited. Made my day. Especially from this morning,
I don't know what happened there, but it's given me a boost of confidence.
I do feel really gutted that I, you know, mucked up so ridiculously.
I just feel like it's such a stupid thing to do.
But I've just got to accept it, really, and, you know, move on.
It's the final challenge of the biscuit week.
This is their last opportunity to impress Mary and Paul.
One baker will soon be hanging up their apron.
So, Mary, Paul, who is in trouble?
Well, I think Ben's in trouble.
He made ginger biscuits.
They were so strong of ginger, they were just overpowering.
It was like a spice grenade, wasn't it?
And also his brandy snaps. They were dark, over-baked.
So he hasn't covered himself in glory.
For me, Jo. Because Jo's biscuits were OK, but the lavender did not come through.
Her brandy snaps were not good, either.
Then you've got to bring in Yas.
Yasmin's biscotti, for me, technically, too simple to make.
It needed more pistachio.
Bakers, this is your final bake. You're going to need to show your baking skills,
but you're also going to have to unleash that creative side.
Because it's the show-stopper challenge, and we're asking you
to raise the bar and make a macaroon display, no less.
The judges are going to be looking for three different flavours of macaroons,
and also your flair at displaying them.
You've got five hours to bake 120 macaroons, which will be sandwiched in 60 pairs.
So there's no time to waste. Very best of luck. On your marks, get set...
Macaroons are notoriously difficult to make.
There are four stages. Mixing, resting, baking and filling.
Five hours seems like a long time for this bake,
but in reality it's never a long time, I don't think.
I'm looking for the best macaroons in this show-stopper.
A smooth, glossy finish. A gooey centre.
A nice crust on the outside. A great colour.
And ultimately a fantastic flavour.
Standard macaroon recipes use ground almonds
together with egg whites and sugar.
There are two different types of meringue used to make macaroons - French and Italian.
The French method folds caster sugar into beaten egg whites, which must then rest before baking.
The Italian way replaces caster sugar with a hot sugar syrup.
It has to get to 118 degrees, so it's pretty important.
It's to make sure the meringue's really stable.
If it's not stable, the macaroons will drop. This is kind of the big...
It's probably the most important bit apart from mixing.
The heat of the molten sugar partly cooks the meringues,
which means they require no resting time before baking.
Personally, I'm not too keen on almonds and meringue,
so it's not something that I've baked at all,
until two weeks ago. Now, I've baked hundreds!
Mary-Anne is making blackcurrant and mint,
gooseberry and elderflower and hazelnut macaroons.
She's following the Italian meringue method.
I have tried both methods
and I've found it difficult to judge with the French method
when to stop stirring, because if you over-mix it,
then it can't hold its shape and you end up just with a solid baking sheet of mixture.
This is definitely the hardest one so far.
After Jo's blunder with the oven temperature in the previous challenge,
she now needs to keep her cool and focus.
How are you?
-Yes, I'm OK, thank you.
-I don't know about that!
-Don't peak now. You've got five hours to build that stress!
-How are you going to present it?
-I'm doing them on a French flag.
-You're doing a tricolour.
-On a French flag?!
-On the Great British Bake Off?
-Come on, we're friends!
You need to forget that. It was a long time ago. Waterloo is well and truly forgotten.
For both types of meringue, bakers need to be careful not to over-whisk the egg whites.
If they do, the proteins in the eggs will separate from the water molecules,
leaving them with a dry batter that's incapable of rising in the oven.
And then they must carefully sieve the ground almonds
before they add the colour and flavouring to ensure an even texture.
The introduction of the flavour could make or break a macaroon.
Too much, it'll break down the structural integrity of the macaroon,
so it'll collapse. Too little, you get no flavour.
Using essence or powdered flavouring is the best way to give the macaroon shells their taste.
I practised about 300 macaroons on Thursday.
You've got three different flavours to make.
You've got to try and mix things as you're trying to bake other things
and it's just a bit of a, kind of, nightmare.
So we'll see how it goes.
Ben has chosen the Italian meringue method to make his three flavours of macaroons.
Chocolate almond sandwiched with white chocolate,
raspberry and pine nut
and a pistachio macaroon filled with chocolate.
The graphic designer is in his element doing this.
They won't be that pink. They will soften when the meringue goes in.
I'm using pine nuts and almonds. Pine nuts have a lot of oil in them,
so if you just pine nuts, the mixture goes very soft,
and so you get odd-shaped macaroons.
-I'm using almond as well to give it...
-To stabilise it.
-..body as well.
-Do you think the pine nuts will come through?
-They should do.
Macaroons generally are these dainty things in often quite unusual flavours.
They're quite grown-up, and I thought, wouldn't it be lovely
if I could introduce my son to the memories of my childhood chocolate bars?
Holly is using cocoa powder to flavour all three macaroons.
The fillings she's using are caramel, mint chocolate and chocolate orange.
I made them for the first time this year. My son tried one.
Absolutely loved them. He calls them "maca-oons".
Once the macaroon batter is made, bakers need to pipe the mixture. Making them uniform in size is key.
Yeah, I can pipe them.
It's the baking where it all kicks off.
It's really important that you create a volume to start with
and then you knock it out.
Hello, Holly, I saw you doing a very professional bang of the tray.
You're got to be firm with it, haven't you?
-You were disciplining those macaroons!
-I was disciplining the macaroons, yeah.
To create a smooth, shiny top, the batter should be left to rest for an hour,
or until a skin has formed over the macaroon.
Everything's so precise about this baking and I'm just not.
I'm more of a bit of this and a bit of that, and everything has to be spot on.
I just decided I'll do one batch at a time,
otherwise I'll just confuse myself.
Yasmin's making French meringue to create her three macaroons -
lime sandwiched with chocolate ganache, coffee with walnuts
and coconut with pineapple.
It is really easy to lose track of what you're doing. I find it a daunting task, anyway.
What did I just put in there?
-Yasmin has classic flavour combinations.
-The flavours that she's got on there are great.
She hasn't rested them for long. She hasn't knocked the air out.
So you're going to get blown macaroons.
Look at that perfect amount of mix. Hey, hey.
Jason is being inventive with his mocktail-inspired recipe.
He's chosen French meringue for his mojito,
and pina colada macaroons.
I suppose it is odd, because I don't drink, but it's more the flavours that I'm going for.
It's not going to be identical, because these are solid and the drinks are liquid.
I really like playing around with flavours.
And chocolate will go with a lot of strong, strong flavours.
Ginger doesn't go with loads of things. It goes with chocolate.
Huge flavours can be mixed with chocolate. It's incredible.
Using French meringue, Rob's typically being adventurous with his flavours.
He's making strawberry and lime,
lemon and chocolate macaroons with a cardamom-flavoured filling.
-Be careful with the cardamom. Don't go mad.
-It's very strong.
You don't want to have that almost numbing feeling in your mouth afterwards.
You should be left with a sweet tang.
Macaroon makers, this is your half time shout-out.
You've got two and a half hours to go.
With 120 perfect macaroons to produce...
..time is against our bakers.
Only the first batches are ready to bake.
It's really hard to use an oven that isn't yours for something that's so temperamental.
Cooking time can be anywhere from 12 to 18 minutes.
It's always very nervous waiting for the first batch to come out and see what they look like.
I'm hoping that these are going to just rise nicely,
because I have done them before and they've cracked. So we'll just have to see.
In as little as 60 seconds, a macaroon can go from flawless to failure.
Whilst a plate of freshly-baked biscuits is definitely a cause for celebration,
there was a time when the arrival of a biscuit was the sign of a much more fearful occasion.
In Victorian times, funerals were incredibly grand affairs and could cost
as much as £50,000 in today's money.
By the mid-1800s, it was estimated that a quarter of the money in British banks
had been put aside to pay for them.
One essential expense was that of the funeral biscuit.
Today, we don't associate biscuits with funerals.
But, in the Victorian period, they were an essential element.
Funeral biscuits came in three main varieties.
Some were what we'd now recognise as ladies' fingers, or boudoir biscuits.
There are others which are like a slab of thin sponge cake.
And then the other kind, particularly from the Yorkshire Dales,
was a shortcake which was flavoured with caraway.
The first use of the biscuit was as an invitation.
Instead of just expecting people to turn up, they had to be bidden.
And you had a bidder. You went round with a basket with a cloth over the top with the biscuits in
and they'd knock on the house door, pass you your biscuit
and say you are bidden to the funeral of whoever it was,
lifting at so and so and burying at so and so.
To protect the fragile biscuits,
they were wrapped individually in white paper and sealed with a black wax.
They were often printed with traditional imagery and religious verse.
Making funeral biscuits actually took quite a lot of effort.
If you think about working
in conditions where you had to sieve the flour,
to actually break the sugar off a sugar cone and pound it up,
if you had to make 100 funeral biscuits, it was quite a tall order.
The caraway seeds would have been used for flavouring,
and it's possible that, originally, the seeds symbolised some kind of rebirth.
In comparison to modern shortbread, the recipe produced a very rich biscuit,
as it required ten ounces of butter to every 12 ounces of flour.
Once combined into a dough, equal parts were then separated and stamped
using a traditional mould.
This is actually a funeral biscuit mould.
Moulds were always wooden. It was what they had available.
And it's stamping the pattern on the top that really makes it a funeral biscuit.
The production of funeral biscuits continued across Britain into the 20th century until 1940,
when rationing tightened the belt of this Victorian tradition.
It's a nail-biting moment for the bakers as the first batches of macaroons are coming out.
I'm not happy with these ones.
Same mix I use at home, completely different results in this oven.
So they're just going to have to go on taste.
Oh, my God!
That says it all, doesn't it? Floor littered with remains.
Oh, that's a relief!
Jo is hoping her blueberry, coconut and strawberry macaroons will keep her in the competition.
-How are you feeling?
-Yeah, no, I feel OK. Yeah, I feel fine.
How many macaroons do you reckon you've made in the last week?
In the last week, I reckon I've made, no exaggeration, 500.
-There's a lot of macaroons floating around Essex!
-There is, yeah!
Oh, those look really perfect.
Yeah, they look pretty.
I don't know if I can bear to look at them.
-I have one macaroon, or six long macaroons.
The French have a lot to answer for.
I'll put the next ones in for sacrifice now.
I just want them to be OK. I don't need them to be the best,
but I don't want to look like an idiot, you know.
A traditionalist, Janet is using French meringue
to make her raspberry, blackcurrant and almond macaroons.
Like her mother, she prefers baking wholesome, family food.
She used to make coloured meringues when we were little,
but, you know, like on Sundays she used to make a tray
twice as big as that of apple pie looking like the Himalayas, you know.
It wasn't sort of delicate baking she did at all.
Ben's still having difficulties with his macaroon shells.
There's nothing you can do when these things happen. Never give up.
Carry on going. See what happens. You never know what's going to happen.
-OK, that's 30 minutes remaining, bakers! 30 minutes.
Macaroons can be sandwiched with jam, ganache or buttercream.
The finished product should be able to stand on its side
and not lose its filling.
I quite like it. It's almost therapeutic.
You're just running through doing the same things, really.
Yasmin's macaroons are all collapsing.
-Anything I can do, Yasmin?
-No. Thank you, though.
What is it that's been so awful about it?
Just not knowing. From start to finish,
I really have no idea what they're supposed to be like,
what the mixture's supposed to be like.
Even the finished product, what it's supposed to be like.
I didn't realise I'd get as emotional with baking,
but I think it's such a big thing in my household,
and throughout my life, I was brought up with baking.
My mother taught me to bake and she would have just been so incredibly proud of me...
..that I've gotten this far.
You've come a long way to be here. You've beaten all those other hundreds of people.
You've made it to the last eight.
I don't want to blow it at the last minute by doing something stupid.
That's what it is.
If I go out because other people are so much better
and I did everything I could,
but I've done something majorly wrong, and, you know, I've got myself to blame, really.
Don't be so hard on yourself. Serve 'em up. They're going to taste absolutely gorgeous.
-Hopefully, they'll come through on taste.
-You'll be fine. You'll be absolutely fine, my love.
Yasmin is not the only baker who's finding macaroons a challenge.
The mixture was looser because I added more liquid,
because I thought I could get more flavour into the actual shells
by adding elderflower cordial, and I did it before and it didn't work,
so I'm not really sure why I did it this time thinking it would work. Maybe magic.
OK, that's five minutes remaining.
This, for me, is the best bit.
You can bake something that's OK and present it in a way that people just don't expect
and they go, "That's fantastic."
Don't do that.
With only minutes to spare,
Mary-Anne still needs to pipe a whole batch of hazelnut macaroons.
Please tell me somebody else is working
and not all eyes are on me flapping around.
I've gone past panic into that calm where, you know,
the train is coming and I'm just going to let it hit me.
That's one minute to go, bakers!
Time up, everyone. Time up.
There are no second chances.
For one of these bakers it will be the last time they face the judges.
-Overall we've had a few disasters, haven't we?
-It's disintegrated when you've put it in the oven.
The crunch is good. It's got a good flavour as well.
You've got a little bit of a shine on that, but on the other two there is no shine at all.
This one is over-baked a bit.
Just too crisp.
Let's try the... This is the pina colada?
It's nice and chewy in the middle.
You've got the flavour coming through. It makes you smile.
It tastes so good. You can taste the orange.
Orange is lovely. And they look so pretty.
Janet, look at that.
-You see this big hole in there?
-Yes, I do.
And that means that it's very, very dry. This one looks better.
-See the inside of that?
And you see how gooey it is? And that one tastes nice as well.
-Oh, good, I'm glad.
-That's a better macaroon.
Let's try again.
Too wet, and it's gone straight into the macaroon
and made it so soft and squidgy,
but having said that, they're absolutely delicious.
Nice and chewy.
Crisp on top. This one's got a lovely consistency in the middle.
This is just how a macaroon should be.
Crisp on the outside,
soft in the middle,
and they do taste of strawberries. That's what they're meant to be of.
-The presentation is unusual.
-It looks very dishevelled.
They're all different sizes.
The filling's fine. It's delicious.
Again, the mixture's too dry. That's what's caused that.
-A great big hole. Really dry.
-The flavour's nice.
This is the worst they've come out.
I did 300 on Thursday, and not a problem. Not a problem.
-It's a disaster.
-..it's all crashed.
-It is a disaster.
Visually they're great.
And you have got a shine
on pretty much all of them.
Delicious. Scrummy, aren't they?
The flavours are great. They look great.
This is a very good batch.
They are a little bit thin, but actually I think they're a very nice size.
This looks very neat and shiny on top. It's so difficult to get that shine quite right.
-Have you got it?
Too much cardamom. Far too much cardamom.
The first taste you have is lots of chocolate, sweetness, heavenly joy.
The last bit is leaving a dentist.
Comments weren't as good as I expected.
Chocolate and cardamom, I'll still stand by that.
I had one afterwards, I don't think there was too much cardamom at all.
There's winning to please the judges
and there's winning to please yourself.
So I can hold my head up high and say I did everything I wanted to do.
I'm so scared. I think I have a 50/50 chance of staying in the competition.
The judges must now assess the bakers' overall performance across the weekend.
They will then decide who to send home,
but first they need to choose who will become this week's star baker.
For me I was really surprised that I have to say Jason,
-although on the first day for me he was bottom of the biscuits.
-His lebkuchen. Yeah.
Since then he's got top, top.
Mary-Anne was doing brilliantly.
-A great day yesterday.
-Didn't she just?
But today has not been so good.
-Anybody else in contention?
-Yes. I mean Holly.
I think she was up there with her brandy snap,
and her biscuits were up there as well.
If we look at those who are
in real genuine danger of being sent home this week,
who's in the relegation spot?
-Today his macaroons were a disaster. Admitted by himself.
They were different sizes. Some of the flavours didn't work.
And I was really rather disappointed,
-because I thought he's a good baker.
Can I also throw in Yasmin as well?
Her biscotti needed attention.
She was certainly in the bottom half for the brandy snap,
and then when you looked at the macaroons today,
there were a couple of major disasters on there. It was a mess.
Bakers, what a good few days it's been.
We've seen frayed bottoms,
cracked tops and overstuffed middles, and now it's the moment of truth.
Mary and Paul have decided that this week
there are going to be two people...
..crowned star baker.
Firstly, the person who's shown consistency
and good taste across the Bake Off this time.
That person is Holly.
-Well done, Holly.
And secondly, rising like a phoenix
from the ashes of his lebkuchen,
-Well done, Jason.
Well done. Congratulations.
Now comes a slightly more onerous task.
You know what has to happen now.
The judges agreed that this week just one person would leave us.
And that person is...
..Ben. Sorry, Ben.
The rest of you, we shall see you next week when it all begins again.
I'm just disappointed.
He's had a pretty diabolical week.
His macaroons were terrible. His ginger nuts were far too hot.
He was fourth from bottom with the brandy snaps.
They were too thick and too dark.
It's sad, because in fact he'd done jolly well up until then.
I am proud. And I know friends and family will be proud of me as well.
I am going to enjoy being star baker,
especially because it's a joint star baker this time.
It's nicer because you share the victory with someone.
My mum will be chuffed when I tell her I'm star baker again.
Especially with all that's happened this particular weekend,
she'll really be excited about it.
I feel, phew.
I'm quite relieved to still be in it
but at the same time I'm now thinking about next week and getting stressed about that.
Next time, the bakers take on pies...
Your pastry is excellent. It's flaky. It's buttery.
I'm actually not comfortable with any of this recipe.
-..showcasing their signature family pie...
-The chicken is overcooked.
You just can't taste anything. This is bland.
...miniature pork pies in the technical challenge...
There's something not right with the colour.
I'm really worried about the time, I'll have to work really fast.
..and show-stopping meringue pies.
-I was really pleased with mine until I saw yours.
-What a mess.
I can't fault it.
-But who will become the next star baker?
And whose Bake Off is about to end?
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]
The search for Britain's best amateur baker, with Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, is now halfway through. The bakers take on biscuits and these bite-sized, delicate delights prove too much for some.
As always starting with the signature bake, the remaining eight must impress legendary cookery writer Mary Berry and artisan baker Paul Hollywood with their interpretation of a classic biscuit. Who will crumble when it comes to judging and whose ginger nuts are too hot to handle?
Next up, the technical challenge, where following a Mary Berry recipe is not as simple as it would seem for our bakers, who start feeling the pressure when faced with brandy snaps.
Finally, the toughest showstopper challenge yet as they attempt to bake and present a macaroon display that must taste as good as it looks. With five hours on the clock, every second counts. This is the last chance to impress the judges before someone's dream of becoming Britain's best amateur baker is over.