The Great British Bake Off: 7.03 Bread Week

Soggy bottoms at the ready, it was the dreaded Bread Week on The Great British Bake-Off. To prove or not to prove, that was one of many conundrums.

The Signature Challenge was a tricky one; chocolate bread. While there was the temptation to fill it with goodies, less was more. Those who fell to temptation were soon scuppered by two words that bring most bakers to their knees; raw dough. This included Candice’s Chocolate, Salted Caramel & Pecan Brittle Brioche which was so ambitious it fell apart coming out of the oven and Paul rightly deemed it a mess. Both Michael’s Spicy Chocolate & Chilli Swirl and Jane’s Chocolate & Cranberry Couronne were under-baked. Obviously Val loves her exercise and after 500 kneads her Double Chocolate Cinnamon Twist suffered a soggy bottom. After Paul had disagreed on what Benjamina’s Chocolate, Tahini and Almond creation was (he says Couronne, we say Babka), he eventually declared it was like wallpaper paste, bit harsh.

When he wasn’t being crushingly dour Paul was giving out the silent treatment; after which he raved over Rav’s Chocolate, Cardamom and Hazlenut Loaf and, despite concerns about only the one proof, Andrew’s Chocolate Brambrack. Salasi was taking it easy and lying on the floor without a care in the world, only his Chocolate, Cinnamon and Orange effort was probably burnt or at least over-baked. Kate was only minutes off with her Dark and White Chocolate Cobbled Loaf, a shame when she earlier declared that “no-one likes small, underfilled balls”. No-one likes them under-baked either. With his hipster leanings, Tom has been hit and miss with his flavours but his Chocolate, Orange and Birds Eye Chilli Swirl was deemed excellent.

Has anyone genuinely heard of Dampfnudel? Probably only Paul and Mary because none of the contestants had a clue. Not what they looked like, tasted like nor how long to cook or prove it for. They are in fact German steamed white bread rolls so now you know. It seemed that Kate was only thinking about balls or pinching their bottoms or something similarly cheeky. Certainly not her Dampfnudel as along with Rav, Benjamina, Jane and Michael, hers was deemed raw while Val set aside last week concerns and finished in first place.

Stat time. Every Bread Week winner has made it into the final and the Showstopper Centrepiece round does separate the wheat from the chaff. Who can forget ‘The Other Paul’ and his Lion Face from last year which ‘Poisonous Paul’ judged as “one of the best things” he’d seen in bread. Ever. This year’s crop failed to hit those heights but there were plenty of decent efforts. Kate’s ‘Corn Maiden’ got another dose of Paul’s silent treatment before he deemed the flavours of goat’s cheese, rye and cheddar as gorgeous. The silence was back for Andrew’s Braided Harvest Bread Basket yet it looked spectacular and tasted beautiful. Jane had slipped under the radar but her Chorizo and Chilli Flower impressed both while Benjamina’s Braided Bread Heart had a bold design and Mary thought it had a lovely flavour. Taking his inspiration from Nordic Mythology, Tom’s Jörmungandr and Mjölnir helped bag him Star Baker with its spot on texture and Mary even enjoyed the seaweed.

Alas, Val had clearly not learnt her lesson from last week as her ‘And They All Went Into The Ark To Get Out Of The Rain’ effort was as overly ambitious as it sounded. While Paul was mistaking giraffes for chickens he also commented that it ‘was not executed to a high standard’. You don’t say. A Three Tier Diwali Bread looked promising for Rav but Mary thought the wholemeal loaf lacked spring, an issue for several in gauging proofing times with each individual flour. Selasi was again too cool for his own good as his Bedouin Escape Tear and Share failed to convince in its story and execution. Before this round Candice knew she was in trouble and her Italian Light and Dark Rye Twist looked to be a bit try-hard and Paul granted her silence before damning one loaf as a total mess which reduced her to sobs and a forlorn ‘”ta ra everybody”. Somehow she survived as Michael’s Cypriot Dove and Olive Branch Plaited Loaf was also deemed a mess for a lack of rise and mismatched flavour. Not even the offer of a shot of 99% proof Zivanir could save him.