The Great British Bake Off: 5.08 Advanced Dough Week
The quarter final is already upon us and having tested baking with yeast techniques this was dubiously named Advanced Dough Week.
For the signature round each contestant was to create a sweet fruit freeform loaf, essentially baking without a tin. They had 2.5 hours but as they will have learnt throughout this week, they needed to use every second wisely. Especially when baking enriched breads which are loaded with butter, eggs, sugar etc. making them softer and richer, Fact Fans.
You see, with all these added ingredients the dough takes longer to proof yet there were handy tips on offer. Luis inserted cherry brandy soaked sugar cubes into the buns of his Black Forest Cherry Tree to push flavour but not increase moisture. Just another innovative little touch that will see Luis go far and his share and tear loaf proved to be a winner.
Nancy also demonstrated some novel thinking when she used warmed ingredients aided by the temperature in the kitchen for her Lincolnshire Plum Braid. Then she thought 'soddit, I'll bung the dough in the microwave'. Paul Hollywood was understandably a bit concerned and his smug grin indicated that the shortcut had damaged the proteins and resulted in an underdone bake though Mary Berry thought it was scrumptious. Oh look, the return of Good Cop, Bad Cop.
As ever, Richard looked organised and his dried fruits were set out like tools on a workbench for his Swedish Fruit Tea Ring. This was essentially a dressed up Chelsea Bun and even though it appeared underwhelmingly flat it had great flavour and he had again "nailed it" despite leaving only 22 minutes baking time.
Perhaps the most ambitious of all was Chetna who had decided on a Povitica, a Croatian walnut swirl bread. There was again a teensy disagreement between Paul and Mary, this time over the balance of cinnamon versus dates yet it looked very appetising. Unlike Martha's Spiced Plum Iced Bread Swirl which suffered leakage of what promised to be an intriguing internal layer of jam yet was eventually deemed a partly underbaked loaf.
Ah. Underbaking. For most contestants this would be a major problem in the technical challenge but not for Chetna, oh no, because she would be getting a second go at a Povitica. Apparently there were no conflicts of interest or favouritism at hand though it did seem rather odd that a contestant could effectively get a practice round. Of course she could not believe her luck though Luis looked noticeably dismayed. With practice came pressure but she knew exactly what she was doing which lead to Richard doing a little snooping.
As ever with the technical round the instructions were unhelpful at best and at this stage the slightest misjudgement will prove costly. First to falter was Luis who decided to have his filling as chunky blobs which left him in second place as the eventual bake was underdone in parts though Mary did enjoy the texture of his nuts (snigger). The consistency of the filling was also questioned by Nancy who again employed the microwave to make hers viscous enough for an icing bag which was practical enough for copycat Richard. When it came to the rolling out there were questions over the length of Richard's pastry snake and the girth of Martha's (more sniggering).
What was even more concerning was the second proof. As it transpired they should have all been paying attention to Chetna who removed hers after 10 minutes to allow for a cooler, longer 50minute+ bake. Only at the judging did Paul smugly proclaim that they needed to be baked for an hour which seemed as equally harsh as last week's sugar layer cover-up.
Though Chetna seemed nervous she need not have been as she was awarded first place, the rest were underbaked to a different individual degree. Nancy was third as Paul, like a teacher showing his students how it is not done, impudently dropped the dumpy loaf onto the board. Even the perfectionist, Richard, suffered from a raw middle for fourth place while Martha was last.
The stakes were again raised for the showstopping round and this week it was two different sets of 18 donuts. Luis was at his theatrical best for his cocktail themed showpieces as Mary particularly enjoyed the bonus shot of Baileys and probably got a little tipsy from his overfilled Mudslides. However, Paul seemed a little dubious on his Raspberry Mojitos rings and had to check two before he gave his approval.
Richard also went for a theme and seemed to be onto a winner with his fayre-inspired efforts. Alas, the execution was not quite there as the caramel glaze slid off his Toffee Apples rounds though the Rhubarb and Custard hearts won over both judges. Execution also let down Chetna who was unsure of how to fry hers, especially the South African Koeksisters which were braided then shallow fried and coated in a ginger and cinnamon syrup. The end result was an over-fatty plait and her Chocolate Mousse filled rounds also suffered as the filling became a ganache according to Paul.
Nancy's were also overcooked though that seemed harsh. There was a set of 'adult' Limoncello filled rounds with the main gripe being the browning inconsistencies. Paul then had to see the funny side for the Chocolate and Orange rings which were decorated with icing as the faces of a certain 'male judge'. Then there was Martha who seemed to suffer throughout the week and needed to have a flawless final round. Alas, the proofing was problematic and even a hefty pumping of curd could not retrieve the ambitious Chocolate and Passion Fruit 'cronuts'. Even the Lemon and Poppy Seed glazed rings looked lacking.
For the FOURTH time, Richard was awarded Star Baker which might be a record. Without much surprise it was Martha who left though at 18 years of age she has time on her side to master her trade.