Ten bakers, three challenges and one judge who knows *everything* about bread . On your marks. Get set. BAKE!
**** SPOILER ALERT: This article contains details of the outcomes of each of the challenges, this week’s star baker and the third of The Class of 2023 to go home. Please don’t read on if you have yet to watch the bread week episode and don’t want to know the outcome! ****
With the bakers acutely aware of Paul’s expertise when it comes to baking bread, there was a new level of jitteriness in the tent this week – neatly summed up by Rowan:
“I don’t know if it’s the nerves or the dodgy prawn I had last night but summat’s churnin’!
THE SIGNATURE BAKE
First up this week was a cottage loaf challenge. Two loaves – sweet or savoury – in two hours and 45 minutes. Paul looking for height, Prue seeking perfection. Picking up on the jitteriness among the bakers, Alison explained to their anxious-looking faces that it didn’t have to be an *actual* cottage. Much relief all round, not least when Noel clarified that he was not going to take a mini break inside their loaves. I love the partnership of these two so much! 😍
With Paul prowling the tent, stopping at the bakers’ benches to ask them technical questions set to undermine their confidence, Cristy became his first victim: “Do you think adding too much flavour hinders the growth of the dough?” he grilled her. “Yes. No. I don’t know” came the panicked reply. And in parachuted Alison like the baking fairy of reassurance, grabbed both of Cristy’s hands and said “It’s not a test, babe. It’s not an exam.” “I’m just nervous because he knows *everything* about bread” fretted Cristy.
There you go, told you they were jittery!
So what did the bakers choose to flavour their cottage loaves with? Garlic was a very popular ingredient with Abbi adding smoked garlic and rosemary to her loaf, Dan opting for wild garlic, rosemary and smoked bacon with garlic pesto and Nicky going with roasted garlic, rosemary and Scottish sea salt.
While Matty decided to let the KitchenAid take the strain when it came to kneading his dough (why have a dog and bark yourself eh, Matty?), Dana’s use of the mixer was somewhat less successful as she shattered the glass bowl that her dough was in and had to start again 🙈
WHERE ROWAN FINDS INSPIRATION FOR HIS BAKES
In another gem from Rowan as he explained the inspiration behind his Mediterranean flavoured olive and tomato loaf. “I went to Amalfi. It were expensive. I mean, a sorbet, you had to take out a mortgage. So it’s a place I would never go back tuh.”
He speaks as he finds. And he must *never* leave the tent.
Lest we think that bread puns were taking priority over baking innuendos this week, Paul treated us to a bit of innuendo bingo during a conversation with Matty…
“Tell us about the proportion of your ball size” he asked Matty, who could barely suppress a giggle. Deep breaths, Matty! “Three quarters bottom, one quarter on top” “Ah so you’ve got a little one on top and <pauses> a big ball underneath?” He was definitely trying to break Matty here. “They’re in proportion, though” wheezed out Matty while gulping down laughter. “They seem slightly out of proportion to me” shot back Paul.
Lads, lads 🤣
With fifteen minutes to go until “Paul Hollywood comes in with his mahogany fists and smashes your dreams” (ah Noel, you’ve such an accurate way with words!), the tension kicked up a notch with Saku plonking herself down on the floor in front of her oven exclaiming, “I’m just going to sit here and watch and pray.”
Onto the judging and happily the bakers had done nowhere near as disastrously as they seemed to think they had. With the exception of Abbi whose cottage loaf sank somewhat, which resulted in her naming it Janice and introducing ‘her’ to Prue and Paul as “flat Janice – her cottage is a bungalow.”
Devonshire splits. No, me either. Soft, light, enriched dough buns split and filled with jam and cream. Since you asked.
A double-proof for these buns meant more sitting around drinking tea and playing noughts and crosses in piles of flour for the bakers. As Noel and Alison roamed the tent checking in on the bakers, we discovered that Dan had forgotten to add the sugar to his dough, Nicky’s balls were wrinkly and Abbi had clearly read my blog post from cake week as she was talking about hiding her mistakes with icing sugar!
TOP TIME-SAVING TIPS FROM SAKU
” What’s your favourite jam?” (Noel)
“That’s quite a bold statement. How often do you make blueberry jam?” (Noel)
“I don’t. I buy it from the shop.” (Saku)
It felt a little like the walk of doom to the gingham altar this week with Dan describing his Devonshire splits as “…the garish A&E look”, Rowan declaring the technical challenge “…monstrous to another level” and Abbi simply placing her tray of buns down with a sigh and an “oh dear.”
Back in to the tent with the judges and on to some pretty brutal comments. Almost all of the bakes were underproofed. Which begs the question (if I may be so bold): did the bakers actually have enough time to complete the challenge successfully? Dana’s were underproofed and irregular in shape, Abbi’s were way too small, like golf balls (better than hockey pucks, eh?!) and really dense, Matty’s were underproofed and quite dense and Dan’s were flat, undermixed, crumbly, dry and a bit tough. Ouch!
Unsurprisingly from that feedback, Dan came last in the technical, then Rowan and Abbi. Tasha was second and this week’s technical bake winner was Saku.
The bakers were given four hours to make a visually stunning plaited bread centrepiece, either sweet or savoury (or both), with two types of flour and bread plaiting skills evident. Anyone else wondering if we were going to be treated to something to rival Paul Jagger’s bread lion from series six? Well maybe, as Josh was making a tiger. Otherwise we were getting trees from both Abbi and Rowan, a picnic basket from Dana, a peacock from Saku, and a highland cow from Nicky.
Oh my giddy godmother, a bready moo coo 😍😍😍
As the bakers got their heads down to the challenge, Alison discovered that Josh’s tiger mascot, which he takes to all the Leicester Tigers matches, had no name. So she took it upon herself to christen it (Paul, in case you were wondering) with a sprinkling of water. Why has it taken so many years for her to be on the programme?!
Some of the completed plaited showstoppers looked better (Tasha) than others (Dan) but as we know, looks are just half the challenge (raw bread, anyone?). So onto the judging…
Unsurprisingly then, star baker for Tasha this week for the second week in a row. More surprisingly, though (as I would question whether she had a worse week than Dan) home for Abbi on the week that Alison described as turning from bread week to dread week.
But to take some positivity from an otherwise not altogether successful week, the last word has to go to Rowan:
“Paul said monstrous yesterday. Prue said hideous today. I’m going to get that tattooed.”
Next week: chocolate.