It’s week two of The Great British Bake Off and that means it’s Biscuit Week! This week the bakers faced another selection of pretty darn tricky challenges: a sandwich biscuit signature, a biscuit board games showstopper and of course, a truly hideous technical – fortune cookies! You may recall that I had feared this could be the case following last week’s ‘Next week on The Great British Bake Off…’ preview and as the words tumbled from Noel’s lips, my stomach fell with them.
Mr Hollywood’s recipe called for twelve cookies in total – six flavoured with almond and garnished with white chocolate and roasted hazelnuts and six flavoured with orange and patterned with little white hearts. With Paul’s sage advice ringing in their ears (“Don’t fold under the pressure”), the bakers were given a generous two hours for their rather un-fortune-ate project (see what I did there?!) and it was time for them to bake!
Oh – as Channel 4 have dropped the history VT, allow me:
Often served as accompaniment to Chinese meals in restaurants in the UK, United States and other Western countries, the cookies are actually not a Chinese tradition, originating in California during the early twentieth century.
It’s fair to say that their results were somewhat mixed, with Chris, Flo and Stacey falling particularly foul of the challenge, serving up raw, misshapen attempts at the classic cookie. However many of the bakers were able to produce good examples of Paul’s recipe with both James and Sophie particularly impressing the judges, although Yan just pipped them to the post, claiming first place.
Now in my case, I’ll confess these weren’t a bake I was itching to do, so I’d been uhmming and ahhing about when to squeeze it in to my crazily busy ‘back to school’ schedule. However, with a pile of schoolwork waiting to be done this evening, it seemed the natural time to hit the kitchen. Incidentally, that’s how I originally got into baking – or as I prefer to call it procrasti-baking. I am truly a master at it!
With my timer set to the required two hours, I scoured Paul’s recipe (find the link in my recipes tab) and assembled the necessary ingredients (why do I never do this before I start the timer?!). Like last week’s chocolate mini rolls, the recipe itself was deceptively simple and technique was once again the key challenge here.
This week’s difficulties (you knew they were coming) appeared when it came to writing my fortunes – I had totally forgotten that this was even part of the challenge until about three minutes before they were needed (thank you Google for the well-timed inspiration) – and the baking time. The recipe advises us to bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes at 130°C fan. Now I’m a very distrusting person and keep an oven thermometer in my oven at all times so I can be sure I am baking at the correct temperature (highly recommended by the way – you’d be shocked at how ‘out’ an oven can be) and yet, after 13.5 minutes, my cookies were still looking fairly anaemic. With time against me, I had to power on regardless, baking first my almond cookies (two at-a-time) and then the orange ones.
After watching Nadiya bake fortune cookies, two series ago, and having fortunately eaten them on more than a few occasions, I was feeling fairly confident with the folding technique and I think I was able to produce some pretty photogenic cookies.
However, if I’m honest (and I promised I would be), the snap of my fortune cookies is somewhat uninspiring (think toughened polystyrene) and I think that next time I would have to bake them on a slightly higher temperature than the recipe calls for. But, I have a pretty photo to share on my social media channels, so all’s well that ends well!
Again, if you want to have a bash at The Male Judge’s fortune cookies, then you can find the recipe by clicking on my ‘Recipes’ tab above and don’t forget to share your results with me over on Twitter or Instagram.
Next week sees the return of bread week and probably one of my weakest areas of baking – although I have spent the summer practising in readiness! In fact, check out the eight-strand plaited loaf I knocked up last month!
I’m already dreading what horrors Paul will have cooked up for the bakers in the tent – and for us at home! But until then, remember: fortune (cookies) favour the brave!