The Great British Bake Off: 10.03 Bread Week
Bakers rejoice! Bread Week has arrived and with it comes the underproofing, the soggy bottoms, the bone dry and the doughy. There are several reasons why most of us buy our own bread and this week's episode showed exactly why. When the contestants will have to prove themselves and they'll knead the baking gods on their side. Not as yeasty as you think.
As ever with the Signature Challenge, there were many variations on what appeared to be a straightforward task. A Filled Tear and Share Loaf will usually be considered savoury yet Alice went off script with her Classic Baklava of Rose Petals and Chopped Pistachios. Though unconventional, it was colourful, delicious yet overbaked. On the other extreme there was David's doughy Cinnamon Swirl. In keeping with the cinnamon fad was Helena who finally deviated from her Halloween theme for a Frosted Cinnamon and Pecan variation that was so smothered it could barely be considered a tear and share, unless you wanted sticky fingers
Then there was Amelia who clearly loves her chilli which caught out Prue for her Chorizo Brunch. Indeed, the advice clearly stated that they should keep it simple and not complicate things. However, in these strange times Henry using charcoal for his Chicken and Pesto Checkerboard actually seemed fair. Alas, the bread was bland and the pesto was overpowering. Michelle went a bit further with seaweed for her Noson Caws (Cheese Night) creation which combined Pancetta with Pear and Black Garlic, Walnut and Truffle with Fruit Compote and two different types of Welsh cheese. All three contestants would have a mixed week though there were a few who slipped under the radar which at this point in the contest is likely a good thing. One was Phil whose Smoked Herby Pancetta and Cheese Focaccia was decent and under-assuming, a bit like him really. Another was Priya who looked to be making an overdone pizza with her Smokey Jalapeno Tear & Share with Cheddar and Red Leicester cheese, deemed very cheesy as you would expect. Rosie's Chilli and Manchego Loaf in a brioche style appeared a tad anaemic after the first prove though eventually came out soft and effortless.
Going for a classic combination was Steph with her Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Star which was dry and overbaked. Michael went a bit further with his Southern Indian inspired Keralan Star Bread which ambitiously combined coconut and chilli. The end result was stunningly pretty and almost kaleidoscopic then the hand went out and we finally had the first Hollywood Handshake.
As if that wasn't weird and wonderful enough, then there was the Technical Challenge of eight white burger baps and four veggie burgers. Remember that barbeque you went to in the summer? Did you bake your own baps? No, of course you didn't because no-one ever does. What was even more unsettling was seeing bakers doing actual cooking and some hilariously oversized burgers. Amelia was bottom of the batch with her doughy and small baps while Phil's were uneven and tellingly brown. Top of the pile was Henry with a batch that looked almost shop-bought, like they should be.
The Showstopper was another step up with a Display of Artistically Scored Decorative Loafs. If last week they were mimicking architects, this week they were trying to be artists with tricky and skilful technique. Taking razorblades to their proofed bread and creating a conveyor belt of proofing, baking and decorating all in five hours only for Paul to take a sharp knife to their creations. Cruel
Helena was back to her dark, twisted self for Every Bread is Halloween with even more charcoal powder then Pumpkin bread and Parmesan flavoured snakes. For all the imagination, the creations were heavy and the scoring was ill defined. Another who went all out and came up short was Henry with his Herb Garden Fougasse. The flavour combinations of Rosemary and Black Olive, Walnut and Parsley, Raisin and Caraway, Thyme and Walnut were bold for a varied basket. The only problem was that they came with some of the baking paper stuck on and the loaves bore thumb marks after Paul was done testing them.
This was the kind of week when there were standout candidates at the top and bottom with several who did enough to get by. Safely in the middle was Michelle whose semi-sourdough Gardd Ni (Our Garden) included bees, hedgehogs and snails. The rye loaf was stodgy yet apart from that this was a decent effort. Phil got a bit ahead of himself with his Winner's Wreath which was soft like a cushion and the bread was tasty enough. Another dependable effort was from Priya and her Bird Boules, specifically a flamingo, a peacock and a hummingbird. These looked more like cave paintings than artistically defined and were a little underwhelming. Rosie went a bit further with her Bread Safari which featured a lion, a giraffe and an elephant and her scoring was decidedly more delicate. Keeping it classy was Steph with her Hand-Tied Bouquet of Flowers of a lily and sunflower which were well baked and well proved.
Almost as if charcoal powder was sponsoring this week's episode as Michael got his hands dirty with his Mediterranean Camp Fire, featuring charcoal (obviously). Despite using sharp implements he successfully managed not to cut himself though the painted red lines looked almost like smeared blood. With such a vivid creation to crown a consistent week he was awarded Star Baker.
Alice is a Geography teacher by trade so of course she went for Global Bread of a map of Planet Earth, the Union Jack and a compass which looked the part but each a little bland. Similarly, David's Trio of African Masks was style over substance even if he did dip into beetroot powder, charcoal and blue pea flower powder. Amelia went back to Biology class for her Caterpillar Transformation. The scoring was hit and miss then Paul became Gordon Ramsey for a few minutes when he went to town on the softness, lack of flavour, lack of colour, lack of proofing and general baking. She already knew her time in the tent was up.