So, like many others in this COVID hellscape, the search for entertainment of a more cheerful kind, to take our minds off the dystopian virus-afflicted nightmare world in which we live, has led us to The Great British Baking Show. (Yes, I know that the BBC’s actual title for the show is The Great British Bake Off, but I live in America where Pillsbury has a trademark on the term “Bake Off” so the show has to be called something else, because heaven forbid we get in the way of somebody’s ability to make a buck while doing nothing at all, so Great British Baking Show it is for capitalism-addicted America.) I can, and might, wax poetic about the show at some point in the future, as we’ve now watched five seasons of it on Netflix, but for right now, I’m just going to talk about one item.
If you haven’t watched the show, it’s a cooking competition of the “Start with a dozen folks, make them cook stuff, judge them and eliminate one each week until you’ve got a champion” variety. It’s a lot more cheerful and kind-hearted than, say, Hell’s Kitchen, which is nice. The format each week is the same: the bakers are given three challenges, the second of which is a “technical” challenge in which they are instructed to bake something they may or may not have made before, which tests specific technical skills, and for which they are given a recipe with many key details left out. They are given the ingredients they need, and the first step might be “Make a dough with the ingredients.” That sort of thing.
One week, the technical challenge was to make Stroopwafel cookies (“biscuits” in British lingo). These are some of my favorite cookies (“biscuits” in British lingo). They’re a thin sandwich cookie (“biscuit” in British lingo), consisting of two waffles with some caramel syrup in the middle. I always figured they were made using two separate waffle cookies (“biscuits” in British lingo), but when the GBBO folks made them, it turned out that they only make one waffle for each Stroopwafel, and then they actually have to cut it laterally into two waffles, which are then used to make the sandwich! This takes some knife skills that I will admit that I do not have, and neither did some of the GBBO bakers, which is what made the Stroopwafel a good challenge.
Of course, the process for making Stroopwafels has been mechanized for scale, as it would have to be, since you can buy Stroopwafels in just about any grocery store these days. I found a video of the process, from the bakery attendant scooping dough into the machine to its final emergence as a complete cookie (“biscuit” in British lingo). I had to watch this video five or six times before I finally spotted the point at which the waffles are sliced laterally across their width. Let me know if you figure it out sooner! (Actually, don’t let me know, because then I’ll feel dumb.)
By the way, Stroopwafels go wonderfully with coffee (and, likely, tea). They make small ones, about the size of a silver dollar, but if you get the full-size ones, about four inches across, you can actually sit them atop your mug so they absorb some of the radiant heat energy from your hot beverage. The caramel gets all soft and the waffle takes on the heat and…well, that’s just a great cookie (“biscuit” in British lingo).
And also by the way, what do British people call the thing that Americans call biscuits, the salty buttery glob of wondrous flakeyness that pairs so beautifully with fried chicken? Just wondering….