It was Bread Week on the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off . Would the bakers ‘rise’ to the challenge? Who would ‘prove’ to be the star baker? And who would be ‘kneading’ a taxi ride home? Sorry, I’ll leave the puns to Mel and Sue in the future.
Who doesn’t love a first? Well, on this week’s show there were several: the first quick-bread challenge, the first baguette challenge, but most interestingly, the first time that Paul has actually been nice. Yes, that’s right, the steely-eyed, dead-pan Paul Hollywood was actually nice. However, don’t worry it didn’t last long and the stern faced Mr Hollywood that we know and love soon returned.
As always Bake Off kicked off with the Signature Bake. This week, the contestants were tasked with making a quick bread (bread without yeast for us baking novices) All of the bakers seemed to cope well with this challenge (unfortunately!), with Paul (not Hollywood) even getting a handshake from Paul (Hollywood), which “although sounding a bit soppy, was good”. Meanwhile, Mary and Paul’s praise for Alvin’s bake made him feel “dangerously happy”. The only two to get any sort of criticism were Mat and Dorret. Mat’s smoked salt and Mexican cheddar soda bread was, according to Paul, overworked and Dorret’s stilton in her walnut and stilton soda bread wasn’t intense enough.
Next up was the Technical Challenge in which the task was to bake four baguettes – cue all of us on our sofas at home asking ourselves at home how hard this could be! They’re baguettes for goodness sake – you can get them from Sainsbury’s! Well, the answer as it proved was very hard indeed, with even the baking legend, Mary Berry, labelling it a very difficult task. “You’ve been particularly nasty here”, Mary told Paul.
With minimal instructions to go from, there was much confusion in the kitchen. How long should they knead the dough for? How should they prove it? How long should they bake it for? No-one was sure. As it proved (excuse the pun) all of the contestants struggled. They’d either not proved their bread for long enough, hadn’t put steam in the oven, or their baguettes weren’t scored correctly. This turned Paul into the Incredible Hulk, showing the bakers his disdain by going round punching their baguettes (to show how soft they are, I might add – he hadn’t lost his mind and started picking fights with loafs of bread!)
After the poor Technical, things could only improve in the Showstopper. This week’s showstopper was to make a bread sculpture using three different types of bread. This is where the bakers really stepped up to the mark and some incredible sculptures were made. Alvin’s cornucopia had so much bread that he could have set up his own bakery, whilst Ian made a life-size flower pot complete with flowers. However, it was Paul who really came into his own by making a sculpture of a lion’s face, so life-like that if you’d just switched on the TV you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching an Attenborough documentary. Paul Hollywood went as far to say that it “was one of the best things I’ve seen in bread ever”. However, Dorret fell short with her creation of Tracy Emin’s unmade bed leaving Paul and Mary unimpressed and she was sent packing.
Possibly the biggest talking point of the week didn’t take place during the actual programme, but earlier in the day when Mary Berry accidentally revealed on Chris Evans’ breakfast show that Dorrett had left the programme; this was the cue for lots of upset fans to vent their annoyance on social media.