Ah, Bread week, even if you’ve been baking bread for years, you still doubt yourself during bread week. Last Wednesday was week 3 in the current series of the Bake Off, and as usual it was Paul’s annual chance to plunge is thumb into loaves of bread in the hope that he could utter one of his favourite words; under-proved, over-werched or over-baked. However what you don’t want to hear is that awful word “raw”.
The first challenge was a relatively easy one to ease the bakers into bread week, something titled quick bread, aka Soda Bread. Using bicarbonate of soda with something acidic like buttermilk, the tent was filled with craggy looking mounds of dough with the main topic of conversation being the ratio of flour to liquid; too little and it will result in a tight loaf. Cue Paul quizzing two of the bakers about their liquid ratio; Flora using 100% with Paul’s only comment being ‘interesting’. Next Paul quizzes his twin Paul about his liquid ratio. Paul is making a sweet soda bread with orange and cranberry and is using around 350ml of buttermilk to 800g of flour…other Paul is worried.
Some great flavour combinations throughout the tent, and once again Alvin impressed with his Manchego, Parma ham and Basil bread – I’d love a chunk of this bread with some tomato soup! Mary’s first comment to Ugne wasn’t great, remarking that she could smell the raising agent in the bake. Luckily both judges liked her chocolate soda bread much to her relief. Flora also got great comments and to Paul’s surprise, he also liked Paul’s soda bread…could this be the start of a baking bromance? He even got a Hollywood Handshake….they are like gold dust.
The technical challenge was rather cheeky and again always sounds simple, but I can assure you that nothing’s simple in that tent. The bakers had to make 4 crusty baguettes using Paul’s recipe of course. With only 4 ingredients in the recipe and not much of a method, the bakers had to rely on their own skills and knowledge to get them through this challenge. The baguette is a classic French bread, long and thin in length, crusty with characteristic slashes down the top. It was great having Richard Bertinet on GBBO’s Extra Slice last night to hear his thoughts, being a French baker – he kind of knows his stuff! When it came to judging, Paul was particularly harsh in this prodding and squashing of the bread. A few of the loaves looked more like ciabatta than baguettes and some didn’t have a crust. In last place was Paul – is the bromance over already? And victorious was Ian, once again showing great skill and knowledge.
Finally it was showstopper time and quite possibly one of the most ridiculous challenges to date, a sculpture out of bread. From Tamal’s breadcycle to Ian’s flowerpot – those bakers pulled out all the stops and produce some AMAZING bakes. I mean, I know Sue joked about Alvin baking a whole bakery – but he pretty much did bake enough bread for a whole bakery, even if he didn’t strictly stick to the brief, what he achieved in 5 hours, in that tent was astounding. Sadly Dorret’s version of Tracy Emin’s unmade bed didn’t impress either judge, with Paul uttering the “R” word.
And then there was Paul; as in Paul the baker – no, not that one, the other one…the one that made a lion out of bread. Wow. Paul is an unflappable baker, knowing exactly how his bakes will turn out, and not letting the other Paul ruffle his feathers – probably something to do with his military training. His bread was excellent and both judges were speechless. (Hooray!)
The end of bread week saw the end of Dorret as she was asked to leave the tent. And the star baker this week? Well, the public weren’t in agreement with the decision and vocalised it loudly on social media. Ian won star baker for the second week in a row, with Paul receiving a Bake Off first, a special commendation for his Lion Loaf. Should he have won star baker? Paul and Mary probably discussed this at length, but as he was bottom of the technical then this is why he didn’t get star baker. But surely, if someone makes a lion out of dough and it’s that good, AND got a Hollywood Handshake then maybe they should?
Next week, Desserts.