Pop Culture

The Great British Baking Show Episode 2: Biscuits!

June 20, 2017

Allison Robicelli will be recapping each episode, week-by-week. Catch the next one tomorrow, and tune in to the show on PBS.

We should all be nice and settled in the tent after a cake week full of introductions and exposition. Now we’re in for a nonstop thrill ride all summer long! It’s biscuit week, bitches!

But before we get to baking, Sue Perkins—aka “Britain's 6th Most Influential Lesbian”—is noticeably absent. Why? We don’t know. An explanation would've been nice so I didn't have to spend the entire hour worrying and thinking things like, “If Sue were here, she’d most definitely be talking about how that cookie looks like a vagina”. Or perhaps everything looked like a vagina to me because I was missing Sue that bad.

Signature Round: Iced Cookies

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Everyone is picking very appropriate designs for this challenge. Tom with the sexy blue eyes makes latte-flavored cookies that are shaped like lattes. Michael makes malt cookies shaped like pints. Millennial Benjamina is being, in the words of the announcers, “on trend” with her flower cookies. Last week’s star baker Jane is also making flower cookies, but she is not “on trend” because she is old.

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Top Comment:
“I do want to point out that in the U.K. pubs are traditionally family establishments, so Candice's scene is not so depressing. They close at 10 even! If you are young (and I am definitely not) that's when you go to the club. ”
— Amber

Speaking of old, Mary Berry may have some very stiff (come back Sue!) competition for “World’s Favorite Granny” from Val, who is makes cookies shaped like ice cream cones. She tells a story about how she grew up in abject poverty, but once a year her father would take her to the beach and buy her an ice cream cone with the spare change he saved up. Then there would be no ice cream until the following summer, because she was so poor. Then she drops a tray of cookies and I start crying. I want this woman to win, and then I want her to come to my house so I can feed her ice cream all day while telling her vagina jokes.

Technical Round: Viennese Whirls

Viennese whirls are beautiful butter cookies that are piped in a swirl shape, baked until golden, and sandwiched together with cream and jam. This is a pretty boring challenge, so let’s talk more about what we’re learning about the contestants.

Last week I declared Selasi to be this season's Sexy Beast. This week I learned that when he’s not baking, he’s either playing basketball or racing motorbikes. (Did your clothes magically disappear when you heard that? I’m still trying to find mine.)

Michael, our youngest contestant, plays field hockey, which I refuse to acknowledge as a sport. There are some shots of him running around with a very tiny hockey stick, which does nothing to change my mind on this.

Candice, who last week was leading the competition for the “Contestant I Will Pick on Mercilessly in Every Recap” award (aka the Ian Award), is a pug mom, because of course she is.

The judging of the whirls bores me because, as a biased professional, I think this is too easy of a challenge and I know I will lose respect for all these people if I pay close attention. I’ve got ten more episodes to go, and if they’re going to disappoint me, I want them to do it in the most spectacular fashion possible. And that’s about to happen!

Showstopper Round: Gingerbread Sculpture

This is the kind of challenge that makes GBBS as good as it is. This is where disasters happen, but you’re not hoping for them like on other reality shows. Instead it's skilled amateur bakers pushing themselves to the limit, hoping they can knock our socks off. This is where I get to see people attempt things that I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. I’m a thousand times happier when they pull it off than when they fail. But when they fail, I make jokes about it because it’s part of my grieving process.

In this round, contestants must make a tall gingerbread scene with at least eight individual characters that “tells a story about themselves”. This is going to be so great!

Welsh hairdresser Louise is getting married this year, so to celebrate she builds a church with gingerbread likenesses of herself and her fiancé, as well as a bunch of gravestones, because there’s nothing quite as lovely as emerging from church as husband and wife and immediately confronting your own mortality.

Sexy Beast Selasi also makes a church because he’s a good boy, and then starts saying something about his mom but I didn’t write it down because I had to start looking for my clothes again.

Young Michael decides to recreate the time he met Santa Claus up in Lapland. I didn’t know this was a thing you could do! He got to pet reindeer, drink hot chocolate, and hang out in Santa’s workshop with his mum and dad! Jealous rage consumes me, but there's ample schadenfreude later when his sculpture turns out to be a total disaster.

Andrew makes a scene about “punting in Cambridge.” I have so many things I need to say about Andrew, but I’m so overcome with emotion that I haven't been able to put my thoughts together. Next recap will very possibly be all about Andrew. It is also very likely that I will be transforming “Punting in Cambridge” into a very, very dirty euphemism, because I know if Sue had been here this week, she would have done it.

Candice announces her plans to recreate the pub she grew up in as a child, complete with a “sticky floor”. This leaves me very concerned about her childhood, not only because apparently British children are allowed in pubs, but more because I’m picturing her as a five-year-old dragging around the puke mop. She ends up completely knocking this challenge out of the park, therein taking her out of contention for The Ian Award. Not only does she win Star Baker, but now she's in my personal top three contestants.

Some of the other contestants give Candice a run for her money, like Kate with her Girl Scout campout. But most look like haphazard crap shows, and I empathize because, in the real world, sculptures like this take days to make. None of those crap shows are in danger, though, because bride-to-be Louise presents a gingerbread wedding that has been attacked by at least 40 serial killers. The church has collapsed and the corpses of her and her fiancé lay stacked on top of the bodies of their friends. Hopefully her real wedding doesn't go the way of her cookie wedding, but at least her gravestones came out pretty good!

You thought gingerbread sculptures were a shitshow? Tune in next week for bread!

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Allison Robicelli is a James Beard-nominated food writer, a Publisher's Weekly-starred author, and lots of other fun things. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she currently lives with her two sons and four cats in Baltimore, Maryland.


Amber June 23, 2017
It may be June but I loved this episode... and your recap equally so. I do want to point out that in the U.K. pubs are traditionally family establishments, so Candice's scene is not so depressing. They close at 10 even! If you are young (and I am definitely not) that's when you go to the club.
Gibson2011 June 21, 2017
Spot on recap. Anyone else only understand about half of what Louise was saying?
Allison R. June 22, 2017
She's Welsh. They don't use a lot of vowels in Wales.
Camay June 21, 2017
Sue was away at a family funeral. This was explained when it was shown in the UK.
Allison R. June 22, 2017
Great. Now I'm worried for her twice. (I LOVE YOU SUE PERKINS CALL ME)
Gwen R. June 20, 2017
Paul Hollywood killed me when he said "when I make a gingerbread scene it's just as good when I first make it in January as March when it's still standing. ".
Allison R. June 22, 2017
Who's making a gingerbread house in January, anyway?