I decided to bake my way through the Great British Baking Show (GBBS for short) and write about it. Don’t know much about GBBS? No worries. Check out my first blog in this series to learn more about the show and about why I decided to do this, for better or for worse (so far, mostly worse).
There are a great many things English people do better than us. (For a handy list of them, check out this clip from Love Actually.)
One thing the British don’t do better than us – is using the word “biscuits”.
I hate the word “biscuits”. They use it to mean “cookies”. They use it to mean “crackers”. They use it to mean, “biscuits” as we Yanks would typically define them.
It’s confusing. It’s annoyingly ambiguous. It has never bothered me until now. But now I’ve moved on to the second episode of The Great British Baking Show – the “Biscuits” episode, so it’s bugging me, far more than my actual baking project did.
The first task in this episode is to make “savory biscuits”. Some of the contestants made things we’d traditionally call “biscuits” and others made ones we’d call “crackers”. It was chaos. Or, you know, it was just people baking stuff.
I went official with it and used a recipe from PBS’ Great British Baking Show website. The recipe is from Paul Hollywood (my second favorite GBBS judge) and it’s called Paul’s Savory Biscuits. (Not a very creative recipe name.)
And yeah, they may be called “savory biscuits” which makes them sound vaguely fancy, but they’re not really. Don’t let the British fool you. These are just crackers, guys.
I’ve never made crackers before, and I don’t know if I’d do it again. It seems like a whole heck of a lot of work for crackers, which you know, come in a box at the store and taste just fine. That being said, as far as GBBS baking goes, this was definitely my easiest task yet which was a nice change of pace after last week’s labor-intensive Classic English Cakes debacle.
Paul’s Savory Biscuits recipe called for me to make a simple dough – just flour, salt, water, egg and a whole heck of a lot of butter. Then you split that dough in half to make two different flavored crackers – sun-dried tomato and poppy seed.
Here’s a pic of the sun-dried tomato that also has Parmesan cheese in it:
Here’s a pic of the poppy seed dough which has a bizarre amount of poppy seeds. So many poppy seeds.
Then after I rolled these bad boys out, I had to cool the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes. (A brief note about me – I don’t like to wait more than 30 minutes to eat crackers. Who does, really?)
After those 30 long (super long) minutes, I got to cut my dough out with cookie cutters. I love doing this because it makes it seem like my extensive cookie cutter collection was a smart purchase. Even if I only use the two round ones, like twice a year.
After I got good use out of my handy-dandy cookie cutters, I baked the crackers for awhile. Then I baked them a bit longer and a bit longer than that – because my oven hates me and is a liar.
When the baking was finally over, slash I got sick of waiting this long to eat crackers, I pulled the them out of the oven and they looked like this:
As you can see in the photographic evidence above, some of the crackers look quite pretty and others…not so much. But, when I arrange them on a plate like below, they all look like they’re pretty. See:
See what I did there, I cleverly hid the ugliest crackers on the bottom and then not-so-cleverly told you that I did that.
Then after I spent an embarrassing amount of time moving crackers around on a plate, I ate one of them and then I ate another. The fact that I ate more than one is notable because it’s the only GBBS bake I’ve made so far that I’ve been able to eat more than one of at a time.
(I mean, I probably shouldn’t have eaten more than one. There is a heck of a lot of butter in these guys, but I recently realized butter may be my favorite food. In this way, I’m a lot like Andy Dwyer. So yeah, give Andy and I a break. Butter’s the best, guys.)
So yeah, the crackers were sufficiently buttery enough to be good, but even then, they were just crackers.
Next week, things get a bit trickier as I will attempt to make Mary Berry’s Florentines, which are cookies. They’re cookies. I, a suitably stubborn American, am going to call them cookies even if I’m supposed to call them biscuits.
P.S. A special thanks this week to everyone who told me about the Great British Baking Show’s Masterclass series in which GBBS’s judges Mary Berry and Paul of the Savory Biscuits, bake their ways through the show’s recipes with far more skill than I do and with far less complaining about word choice.