The Great British Bake Off: 5.03 Bread Week

The buzzword for this episode of The Great British Bake Off was... patience, for it was Bread Week. Who can knead like a boss, who can prolong their proofing long enough and who can rise above them all to be crowned Star Baker?

The first challenge was simple enough; bake twelve identical rye rolls. As ever, Norman decided to keep it simple by only incorporating caraway seeds and sultanas. By his own admission, he's no Heston Blumenthal but that may well lead to his downfall. On the other hand, Luis was going all out with his ambitious 'Opposites Attract' effort which married parsnip and pale fennels with carrots, coffee and chocolate. A daunting set of ingredients which earned a handshake from Paul Hollywood no less for proving his doubts wrong.

For once, Richard came up a cropper when he suggested his Pumpernickel was American before Paul shot him down by asserting it was, in fact, German. Whatever it was turned out to be under-cooked. Knowledge is power, as many would learn later on. Diana's rolls involved baking with cheese which, for someone who admits that they do not bake bread often, seems a step too far. Thankfully she seemed to get away with it, as did Kate when the two second rule came to her rescue when she dropped one of her beloved Orange and Cardamom rolls.

The technical challenge was Ciabatta which brought looks of absolute abject terror from the group. Still, Paul came up with some reassuring words of wisdom; "Be patient" with all the requisite gravitas. For many, ciabatta might as well have been brought down from Mars as it appeared so alien to so many. Some left it to proof in the proofing drawer because that is what it is for, right? RIGHT? DOES ANYONE KNOW? Only if they had checked the instructions they would have known to leave it at room temperature.

Having waited long enough, each plops out their bubbly blobs and gets to work. Only when they had to move it onto the baking tray did problems really occur. In a task akin to a team-building exercise there were the logistics of moving a semi-liquid form onto a tray. Only Norman suggested using semolina on top and bottom to roll it on, rather like the Egyptians using logs to move massive pieces of stone. Knowledge is power. By judging time Mary Berry and Paul become ‘Good cop, Bad cop’ with Paul admonishing those on the proofing, or lack thereof with some ciabattas having resembled pitta breads, while Mary complimented many on the fact that they actually tasted nice.

The final Showstopper round was to make a centre-piece out of a filled loaf, which is tricky enough for a cake let alone a loaf. Still, Jordan appeared to have missed the brief as he had gone for a Strawberry and Raspberry cheesecake Brioche. If he was going out, he was going out in a blaze of glory with sticky jam fingers. He asserted that he'd had enough recent practice on it yet with doubt swirling like his brioche Sue asked “How many times has it worked?” Luis was going for it again but in a more showy, sensible, saffron-stained stylee with his Spanish ‘Roscón de reyes’ which roughly translates to ‘King’s ring’ (no sniggering at the back).

Unsurprisingly, Norman had gone for a white bread loaf, then fooled us all by stuffing it with chicken, pesto, roasted vegetables and sundried tomatoes though suspiciously it appeared more like a pie. Weirdly, Diana’s pinwheel was outshone by her Air Max trainers, who’d have thought it? Ever the exhibitionist, Martha created a stuffed sunflower loaf which was to be cut open to reveal a Epoisses fondue which seemed a little dangerous, especially with the pinhead covering of sunflower seeds.

Another one opting for a social centre-piece was Iain who had ‘risen to the challenge’ with his olive bread and tagine dip while Chetna accompanied her showstopper with a mango chutney, of course. Then there were the optimists, Nancy’s Full English Stromboli always appeared over-ambitious and, as ever, the tomato was a step too far as it left a tragic hole.

If anyone was running away with the title of Star Baker this week it was Kate, her Orange and Cardamom rolls seemed too much yet hit the spot then Paul had to rip her heart out by declaring her coriander coated showstopper as raw. The dreaded 'r-word' has haunted cooking shows and even Norman’s loaf/pie had a soggy bottom.

That final gaffe by Kate undoubtedly threw away her chances at nabbing the Star Baker award as Luis deservedly stole in. The harder decision was who was to leave; ‘safety first Norman’ or ‘Captain Chaos Jordan’? In the end, experience won out and Jordan was sent home, knowledge is indeed power.

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