Watching last night’s Bake Off brought back many memories of last year. Never before or since have I had to make so many things not only taste good but crucially to make them into ridiculous structures. Generally in life structures are made of brick, metal, wood – you know, quite solid things. But then along comes GBBO and before you know it you are having to make elaborate constructions out of flour, butter and eggs.

As I hadn’t done anything like this before it was quite a learning curve – but one that I really enjoyed. I should have been an engineer if my school career’s teacher had got his way but I rebelled and went did photography. However the engineering challenges of GBBO did make me think that maybe he could have been right.

So below are a few pics of trying to make a biscuit box. The first thing was to see if I could get the principle to work…

Not exactly a showstopper…
Not exactly a showstopper…

The above version was made by wrapping the shortbread mix around a solid cake tin and then holding it in place with a springform tin. A bit informal as Mary might say but it did stay upright so I could see a glimmer of hope.

Too chunky, but it might work.
Too chunky, but it might work.

The next test was then to try a chunkier version with a thicker slab of shortbread dough. I think this was another springform tin wrapped around a saucepan. Now I could see that the idea really could work so it was time to get out the angle grinder. Always fun, whatever the reason, especially when grinding steel in the night with a fabulous trail of sparks whizzing off into the dark.

Early version of the biscuit box mould.
Early version of the biscuit box mould.

The sheets of metal were used to wrap the shortbread mix around. One sheet on the inside and then another around the outside held together with string. If the string was too loose the shortbread slumped but if it was too tight then it got squeezed up. Next was the lid: the 1st version below with some test decorations must have weighed a couple of kilos and would have crushed all but the chunkiest of boxes.

1st attempt at a lid.
1st attempt at a lid.

The next attempt was much lighter and far tastier. A giant jammy dodger… mmm!

One foot wide Jammy Dodger!
One foot wide Jammy Dodger!

There aren’t a lot of sweet things that my son, George, likes but fortunately shortbread is one of them.

For once, something tasty.
For once, something tasty.

Finally it all started to come together. Using the sheets of metal a proper cylinder of shortbread began to come together and look quite respectable.

Decent cylinder along with a flower pot loaf.
Decent cylinder along with a flower pot loaf.

The structure was there but then I had to make it look like a showstopper and that was a problem – fancy decorations have never been my thing and I still struggle with them now.

Testing out various decorative ideas.
Testing out various decorative ideas.

Early ideas just looked like something a child would do.

Macaroons to the rescue
Macaroons to the rescue

Eventually I realised that macaroons were the answer to the problem, especially as they were going on the inside too.

Finally a showstopper!
Finally a showstopper!

The final result looked like some sort of weird, biscuity UFO but I was happy with it. I hate to think how many kilos of butter it took to get there! It was a hugely risky bake to do as it was incredibly fragile when it came out the oven but I decided that taking risks was the way I was going to get through and make those showstoppers stop the show.

Making a showstopper

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