Great British Baking Show Power Rankings – Biscuits Week

The second week of the season is in the books, and we’re getting a clearer picture of which bakers have the skills to make a deep run, and which bakers are likely to end up going home sooner rather than later. I expected to see a lot of variation in this week’s results because, let’s face it, a single week doesn’t tell us that much about each baker’s overall skill level. Heck, I seem to recall a season where the Star Baker of the first week was Eliminated in the second (and indeed, Wikipedia tells me this was Series 6, a.k.a The One Nadiya Won).

We have a new #1 Overall Baker, and a whole bunch of small changes in rankings here and there, but there were relatively few surprises in each baker’s performance, and the overall structure of this week’s rankings is broadly similar to last week’s. While there’s more than enough time remaining in the season for disruptions to the Tent’s hierarchy, it is becoming clearer who the really good bakers are this season. Then again, it’s still only week two and next week is Bread Week, which tends to feature Paul at his fussiest, and therefore typically results in a total bloodbath. There could be surprises aplenty next Thursday.

Starting this week, I’ll be noting each baker’s ranking from the previous week, as well as the difference between the current and previous ranking, in each baker’s write-up. An explanation of my methodology for devising these rankings can be found here.

As a reminder, everything in this article serves as a spoiler for the entire Biscuits Week episode, so if you haven’t seen the episode yet and don’t want some dude on the internet to tell you how it all goes down, this is your last chance to escape.

Week 2 – Biscuits Week

Signature Bake: 12 Decorated Chocolate Biscuits

Technical Challenge

-Recipe: Fig Rolls

-Judge: Paul

-Judging Parameters: Cakey, soft dough that isn’t overbaked and crumbly. Balance of fig flavors and spices in filling. Neatness and uniformity of presentation

-Did Anyone Succeed? Yes. Alice in 1st, David in 2nd, and arguably Phil in 3rd

Show Stopper: Three-Dimensional Biscuit Sculpture

Star Baker: Alice

Eliminated: Jamie

12. Jamie

Last Week: 12th Change: 0

Place in Technical: 11th

Coming into Biscuits Week, Jamie was baking on borrowed time. His Technical and Show Stopper in Cake Week were both disasters, and he was saved solely on the strength of his Signature Bake. This time out, Jamie didn’t even have that going for him. All three of Jamie’s bakes demonstrated a lack of attention to detail, which is an unfortunate trait for any baker, let alone a competitor in the Tent. His biscuits in the Signature fell apart because his caramel was too hot. He egg washed his fig rolls in the Technical when no egg wash was required or even desired, for reasons that remain unclear. And, to add insult and additional injury to previously existing injury, his biscuit guitar broke in the oven. To pile additional pathos on top of that catastrophe, his Show Stopper wouldn’t have looked that impressive, even if it had been intact. The good news is it the biscuits themselves were well-baked , but it was too little, too late.

11. Helena

Last Week: 10th Change: -1

Place in Technical: 12th

For the second week in a row, Helena followed up rough performances in the Signature and Technical with a fantastic Show Stopper, pulling herself out of the fire in the process. Her Signature wasn’t a complete disaster – the episode’s editing sure made it sound like Paul just doesn’t like matcha very much – but her performance in the Technical was the stuff of nightmares, and more consistent bakers have been eliminated in the past for less. And yet, her hatching spider biscuit sculpture looked absolutely fantastic, and was well baked to boot. After two weeks, it is unclear which baker is the real Helena. Is it the Helena who can pull out all the stops to ace her Show Stoppers, or is it the Helena who faceplants in the Technical? Helena will need to be much more consistent in the coming weeks to give herself a real chance of competing. If she can’t do well with any consistency, she’s going to go home sooner rather than later.

10. Amelia

Last Week: 8th Change: -2

Place in Technical: 9th

Amelia skirted extremely close to elimination this week after committing one of the classic GBBS blunders in the Show Stopper – not following the instructions. Instead of creating a unified biscuit sculpture, she stacked a bunch of biscuits on top of each other and held them together with frosting. Just as if she had taken an essay test and not answered the actual essay question, Amelia got failing marks from both judges as a consequence. (Long time viewers may remember poor Enwezor, who got Eliminated for a very similar reason.) The rest of Amelia’s Biscuits Week went about as well. Her biscuits in the Signature were under baked, and her placement in the Technical is a huge nosedive from her 4th place finish last week. After Cake Week, Amelia showed real potential if she could improve her time management skills. After Biscuits Week, it sure seems that Amelia is the sort of baker who makes lots and lots of little mistakes, compounded by occasional big ones. That’s not a recipe for success in the Tent.

9. Phil

Last Week: 11th Change: +2

Place in Technical: 3rd

Phil’s bump up in this week’s power rankings has less to do with the things Phil succeeded at (although getting 3rd in the Technical, and even coming very close to properly baking his fig rolls, is certainly part of his climb) and more to do with Amelia and Helena’s flirtations with disaster. We still know who Phil is at this point, and it’s a familiar archetype to longtime viewers of the Great British Baking Show. Phil is this season’s Set-In-His-Ways Old Guy who appears resistant to the judge’s comments. His Signature was a little messy, too tough, and too sweet, even if that sweetness was mitigated with bitterness. Prue seemed to like the decoration on his Show Stopper, but Paul was decidedly less impressed, and the Florentines that formed the outer layer of his sculpture were under baked. Perhaps Phil can avoid being the worst baker in the Tent for a few more weeks, but unless he can correct his worst tendencies, he has little chance of making the Finals, or even the Semis.

8. Michael

Last Week: 9 Change: +1

Place in Technical: 4th

Michael, on the other hand, had a pretty good Biscuits Week. His Signature Bake looked good, even if his marshmallow wasn’t all the way set, and it tasted good, too (this is a tangent, but for real, if you want to improve your shortbread game, add some lemon to it). 4th place in the Technical isn’t too shabby either. To top it all off, the judges really enjoyed the look of his Show Stopper, even though it was under baked. So why is Michael only up one spot? Well again, he didn’t really nail any of the three challenges this week. Every single one had notable flaws. On top of that, his mindset is adversely affecting his focus, and becoming a real concern. He spent a lot of time fretting and low-key freaking out about how his Show Stopper looked, when he should have been more concerned with how it was baked. Michael has talent, but he needs to calm down and focus on actual problems, not the things he thinks must be problems.

7. Priya

Last Week: 6 Change: -1

Place in Technical: 7

Like Michael, Priya’s bakes this week also had a bunch of little problems. Her biscuits in the Signature were neat and uniform, but also under-decorated, as she ran out of time to add anything more than a couple pieces of fruit to the top. And, after Paul explicitly stated in an interview clip that he wants to taste the biscuit itself, Priya’s experimental ruby chocolate overwhelmed everything. Then, in the Show Stopper, she had almost the opposite problem. Her biscuit dragon was exquisitely decorated, but the biscuits themselves were too tough. Put those problems together, and add in a middling performance in the Technical, and you get a tumble in the rankings. After last week, Priya showed lots of promise if only she could clean up correctable mistakes. This week, the mistakes were still there, so Priya takes a step in the wrong direction.

6. Steph

Last Week: 3 Change: -3

Place in Technical: 10th

Priya might not have had the best Biscuits Week, but the biggest drop in the rankings this week belongs to Steph, who followed up an impressive Cake Week performance with a low-key tough week in the Tent. Her decision to make her Signature shortbread with semolina dough backfired, resulting in a crumbly biscuit (and, if you ask Prue, one with too much coffee flavor as well). Coming in third-to-last in the Technical is never a good thing, especially a week after getting 3rd overall in said round. Her Show Stopper looked good and tasted good, but still spent too much time in the oven, and wasn’t in the upper echelon of this week’s Show Stoppers. Steph wasn’t in danger of elimination this week, and she probably won’t be in danger next week, but the flaws in her bakes this week have raised serious doubts about Steph’s overall skill level.

5. Henry

Last Week: 4 Change: -1

Place in Technical: 6th

Once again, Henry brought a lot of ambition to his bakes this week, and once again, the actual quality of his bakes didn’t quite match that level of aspiration. His Signature biscuits had six layers, far more than any other baker, and while they tasted good, his mousse wasn’t set. Building a pipe organ for the Show Stopper also seems like a swing for the fences at first, and then the finished result was underwhelming. As Paul so expertly pointed out, who builds a pipe organ out of biscuits and then forgets to include a keyboard? The biscuits themselves weren’t great, either. And going from 1st to 6th in the Technical isn’t great, but these things happen. In order to reach contender status, Henry needs to scale back the amount of things he attempts, and focus on nailing everything he does.

4. Rosie

Last Week: 7th Change: +3

Place in Technical: 5th

Last week, Rosie showed plenty of potential, but a rough outing in the Signature held her back. This week, Rosie capitalized on that potential and laid the foundation for a deep run in this season. Her Signature was flawless in decoration, uniformity, and flavor, earning high marks from both judges. Her Show Stopper was one of if not the best looking of all, even though her chicken design called for making a ludicrous amount of biscuits. That said, Rosie didn’t have a perfect Biscuits Week overall. 5th in the Technical is perfectly acceptable for this point in the season, but obviously leaves room for improvement. And while her Show Stopper looked great and had a great bake on the outside, the gingerbread foundation was too soft, indicating it was under baked. Still, Rosie’s showing in Biscuits Week bodes well for her campaign, and an appearance in the Semis wouldn’t be a surprise.

3. Michelle

Last Week: 2nd Change: -1

Place in Technical: 8th

Outside of a bottom half placement in the Technical, and despite a slight drop in the rankings, Michelle arguably had a more impressive Biscuits Week than her Cake Week. Her Signature biscuits were uniform, well-decorated, and praised for their excellent texture and unique flavor. The judges may have dinged her Show Stopper for looking messy, but when it was time to evaluate the bake itself, they gave Michelle nothing but praise. Michelle has now shown she can do a great job with the bakes she is allowed to practice, and has demonstrated the consistency she was missing last week, but in order to solidify her case as a true force in this year’s Tent, she will need to improve her scores in the Technical.

2. David

Last Week: 1st Change: -1

Place in Technical: 2nd

Once again, David has a superb week. His Signature was almost perfect, were it not for an excessively runny nougat that gave his otherwise excellent biscuits a messy look. He jumped eight entire spots in the Technical, and might have pulled away with 1st had his fig rolls been slightly smaller. And while his Show Stopper wasn’t the most immediately flashy in its décor, the sculpting of his biscuits and the piping work around the sides was classy, understated, and superb. And more importantly, it was perfectly baked and perfectly flavored. To sum up, David had another monster week, and the pull of inertia made it extremely difficult to knock David out of the top spot in the rankings, especially considering his quantum leap forward in the Technical. And yet, it wasn’t enough to hold on to #1 because…

1. Alice

Last Week: 5 Change: +4

Place in Technical: 1

…Alice put together the first complete game of the season, so to speak. In Cake Week, everybody screwed up something. In Biscuits Week, Alice had the best Signature, came in 1st in the Technical, and completely aced the Show Stopper. Such a performance will result in a Star baker award every time. What’s more is Alice pulled this off even though she set a high bar for herself. Her Show Stopper sheep sculpture was adorned with a staggering amount of tiny macarons, each perfectly baked and flavored. The shortbread inside was just as good. She nailed her Signature in more impressive fashion. Even though she forgot to turn her dang oven on at first(!), and even though she beefed the icing on a couple of biscuits, it didn’t matter, because she knew exactly what she was doing and she still had time to make backup biscuits, in a time-crunching challenge where, again, she didn’t remember to turn her oven on initially! It didn’t matter! Alice was too prepared and too calm to let that stop her. Flawless execution and unbreakable mental toughness is what winning in the Tent is all about, and if she can keep it up, that Cake Plate Trophy is hers for the taking. That’s easier said than done, of course, but the point stands.

What happens next week? Bread Week is always brutal, and it typically separates the contenders from the pretenders. I almost expect to see the promised double elimination next week. We’ll check back in next Thursday and see which bakers survive, thrive, and perish. Til then!

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