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'The Great British Baking Show' fan react: The madness of tuile

Season 2 | Episode 5 | “Biscuits and Traybakes”| Aired Oct 4, 2015

The Great British Baking Show is known for its tough challenges, but possibly the toughest of the three is the technical. At least with the signature and showstopper challenges, you have an opportunity to practice (even though, as we have seen, practice doesn’t always make perfect, since the tent’s stoves and ovens, equipment, and the weather all vary from the contestants’ home kitchens and familiar environments).

In my opinion, the technical, not the showstopper, is the real make-or-break moment in the tent. The technical is considered the equalizer, and for good reason, since everyone gets the same non-recipe (i.e., a recipe that has nothing but “make item” and “make next item” as its steps). But from my years of watching The Great British Baking Show (aka The Great British Bake-Off in Britain), I feel like the technical is where dreams are either made or broken. Your whole demeanor going into the next day depends on doing well in the technical. With so much riding on tailwinds going into the showstopper, it’s a wonder that there aren’t more emotional breakdowns during the technical.

One of the most precarious episodes of season 2 (as numbered for the PBS American presentation of the series) is the “Biscuits and Traybakes” episode. Baking cookies and traybakes comes with its own set of challenges; you’ve got to get every cookie or bar to look the same. On top of all the math you have to do, the products have to taste amazing. It’s bad enough doing this with a recipe, but to do this in a technical? #fuggedaboutit. Especially if the recipe picked for the technical is something as difficult as a tuile.

There have been some diabolical technical recipes, such as week one’s angel food cake with lemon curd, week two’s English muffins, week three’s horrifyingly difficult floating islands with spun sugar, and week four’s easy-to-screw-up egg-custard tarts (having eaten several egg-custard pies before, the fear of biting into scrambled egg is a nerve-wracking one). All of these recipes (especially the floating islands one) would make even the most seasoned baker doubt his or her abilities, which not only shows how brave these amateur bakers are, but that they’re incredibly skilled at their craft. Remember, the only thing they can use in the tent when it comes to technicals is their own knowledge bank; no outside help is given. For them to be able to come up with something that resembles the correct finished dessert proves that these bakers are close to professionals.

To me, though, tuile is one of the toughest technicals so far. Some of the technicals, like the floating islands and egg-custard tarts, are fiddly. Some, like the angel food cake and English muffins, depend on the right balance of texture and structure. But at least most people have eaten angel food cake and English muffins before. There’s a reference point there that I’m not sure many people have for tuile. And even if you haven’t eaten floating islands before, poaching something is part of basic cooking knowledge (that is, if you’re already handy in the kitchen).

Tuile seems to combine the worst elements of most of the technicals thus far. It’s fiddly in that you have to use a specialized tuile template. The dough has to be thick enough, but not too thick that it won’t spread. The cookie itself has be wafer-thin, but not too thin so that it breaks, but not too thick so that it’s chewy. And on top of all of those requirements, the versions the contestants had to make needed chocolate concentric circles and were required to have half molded around a rounded surface, and the other half rolled into cigars. Then the cigars had to be dipped into ganache, and even though ganache is relatively easy to make, making ganache provides its own challenge simply in that it’s one extra thing to do!

Too many things could go wrong, and some of them did. Some of the tuile broke over the rolling pins, which were used as molds. Some tuile cooled too fast to be rolled into any shape, let alone a curve or a cigar. Some tuile were too thin, resulting in a burned cracker rather than a cookie. But overall, most of the tuile looked and tasted great to judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.

In the end, the technical isn’t something I’d ever like to do. The bakers have enough knowledge to be able to get a product out to serve, whether it’s good or bad; I know for sure that I’d still be stuck at “go” if I were ever to get in the tent and be asked to make something I’d never cooked, let alone eaten, before.

Tuile isn’t the last tough technical these bakers will endure. When we get to the final, there’s going to be some real intensity happening there. But considering how tough it sometimes is even to get the right texture in standard chocolate-chip cookies, a cookie technical in a cookie weekend was bound to be a strain on both wits and nerves.

What do you think of the year’s technicals thus far? Sound off below!

The Great British Baking Show airs Sundays at 7/6C on PBS.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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