Tag Archives: Biscuits

Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 6: 3-D Biscuit Scene

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).

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This week I’m making the 3-D biscuit scene that was the showstopper challenge in Season 1 Episode 2 of GBBS.

In this episode, some of the bakers excelled (Ahem…Richard and Luis.)

Some of the other bakers umm…didn’t do so well. As for me, I did a little worse than the people who did not do so well. Or, well, a lot worse if you wanna make me be honest about it.

But at least I learned from the experience. Namely, I learned that hindsight is sort of a jerk and also I learned that I know nothing about cars, which oddly, actually does come into play in this baking challenge.

On the show, most of the contestants used variations of gingerbread dough for this challenge, but I went with sugar cookie dough instead because I like sugar cookies, and, also, because I’m a rebel. Obviously.

I used the “My Favorite Christmas Cookie” recipe from Ree Drummond’s (aka the Pioneer Woman) A Year of Holidays cookbook.

She has a similar recipe online. This recipe has all the same ingredients. She just tweaked the amounts. Basically the one in the cookbook has more of almost everything, including shortening.

(Yeah, I know, shortening is kind of gross. I like to use the butter-flavored Crisco because it looks like butter and tastes more like butter, so I basically just pretend it is butter. Denial works for me.)

Anyway, first you do the usual. Cream the sugar and the shortening together (while pretending it’s sugar and butter). Then comes the fun part, you also add in some orange or lemon zest. (I have a pretty low bar for “fun” apparently.)

Then add in the eggs and vanilla and shift in the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and salt and mix it all up. Add some milk. Mix it again and you should have something that looks like this:

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Gah, why does raw cookie dough look so good? Why? Because it’s the Salmonella’s siren song, that’s why.

Then split the dough in half and put it in plastic bags or wrap it in waxed paper or plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge for an hour. (Or for 20 minutes in the freezer. Ree didn’t put this little freezer tip in the cookbook version, just in the online version. So I ended up putting it in the fridge for an hour like a regular ole’ schmuck. It’s cool how I’m not bitter about that though, right?)

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Dough ready to sit in the fridge for an hour to prove I’m a schmuck who should have just used the freezer.

Then after the dough has chilled for the necessary amount of time, take it out and roll each section out with a rolling pin. I put plastic wrap on top of the dough because I get really, irrationally angry when dough sticks to the rolling pin. I just don’t like it, guys. I really don’t like it.

Then I busted out those cookie cutters I kept bragging about in the savory biscuits blog a few weeks ago.

I just grabbed random cookie cutters and hoped I’d find some way to make it all make sense later. Hindsight: not the best plan.

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See? I told you there’d be cars.

Then I baked each batch of cookies for about 7 to 8 minutes and they came out looking like this:

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Are those things dump trucks? Are they fire trucks? I didn’t know. And later that will become very apparent.

Then I baked some more cars and some more trees (because I was committed to them apparently).

Then I baked some too much.

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I totally could have taken the ugly ones out of the pic but I didn’t because HONESTY, but to a greater extent, laziness.

Then I made some icing. I didn’t use Ree’s recipe, because I’m weird about putting raw eggs or milk in stuff you don’t then cook. So I just mixed together powdered sugar and water with a lil’ bit of vanilla instead.

I put in some food coloring and put the icing in a piping bag and went to town on some trees and some circles.

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Shh!! You can’t even tell some of these are too-done. The icing totally covers that. You can’t tell at all. Nope, you can’t tell.

Now here’s where hindsight comes in again to be a smart aleck jerkface.

When I watched the GBBS show of this challenge, I didn’t notice that all of the contestants only outlined their cookies with icing rather than icing the whole cookie.

Do you know why they do that? They do that because icing cookies takes a really stupidly long time apparently. Like I don’t even want to admit how much time this took for me to do. Let’s just say that it took the better part of a Sunday evening and more than a better part of a bag of powdered sugar. So much powdered sugar.

But once I started icing the whole cookie on some, I felt like I had to do it on all of them. Even when part of my cookie scene was a road. A road that was supposed to be gray. Gray! As soon as I started to put gray icing on the cookie, I realized:

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But it was too late. I’d already grayed it. And yeah, it looked like a road, but not a road I wanted to eat because it was gray.

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Gray was a bad choice.

And then umm, we’ve reached the cars. As soon as I started decorating them, I realized this:

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I know nothing about cars, most notably I do not know how to ice cookies to look like cars. Like. At. All.

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It’s like I’ve never seen cars before. Also the black icing smeared everywhere. Boo you icing!

Take it away, Andy from The Office:

andy

And, yeah, I’ve realized I’ve stopped talking and am now just allowing GIFs to communicate for me. This is a pretty half-baked blog. (Get it? Half-baked? That was my required bad baking pun for this blog.)

But the thing is, I’m tired from too much icing. (Sidenote: I don’t even. like. icing.) And I’ve diagnosed myself with a case of Too-Much-Icing-Hand which I’m pretty sure is now a thing because I just said it was and typing is too much work right now so just go easy on me.

Then go easy on me when you see my finished project photo.

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“I should have just made a bunch of trees,” said Hindsight, unhelpfully.

Then go really easy on me when you realize I totally cheated and used toothpicks to hold up the cookies here. But at least I was honest about it right? That makes it okay, right?

Anyway, I’m just glad to have this project in a rear-view mirror. (I’ve switched to using car puns now apparently.)

Next week, I move on to GBBS’s Season 1 Episode 3 – “Bread” which is great, because, like Oprah, I.LOVE.BREAD.

P.S. Maybe next week I’ll stop speaking in GIFs.

Hopefully.

 

Sometimes I Bake Mistakes; Take 4: Savory Biscuits

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).

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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:

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I was trying to make a perfect rectangle here. Shapes are hard.

Here’s a pic of the poppy seed dough which has a bizarre amount of poppy seeds. So many poppy seeds.

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Just a really stupidly ridiculous amount of 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.

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Oh my gosh, thank goodness I have cookie cutters, right?

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:

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I tried to hide the ugliest ones in the back. It didn’t work.

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:

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This plate is a lie.

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.