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Monday, 25 August 2014

Bake off Does Bread

Dust off your baps, polish your batons it’s bread week! After last week’s slightly lacklustre offering Bake Off was back firing on all rings. Paul was extra smug, Mary had an extra dollop of knowing and our ten remaining bakers appeared to have relaxed in to tent life. Reflecting on week one, with the exit of two bakers, it’s around now that Bake Off really hits its stride.

It was a week of strange implements, tension to rival a 24 series finale and a Fanny Craddock book sized amount of innuendo. Let’s rock and roll...


The opening bake saw the gang rise to a twelve rye roll challenge. Rye, we are informed by the still consistently brilliant Mel and Sue, is a more testing bake due to the smaller gluten quantity and the extended proving and baking times. Paul, with the air of an arrogant estate agent this week, prompted a look on Martha’s face akin to being told she’d failed all her A Levels. The sin? Finishing her date and walnut rolls with an egg wash. ‘Very daring’ bristled Paul. He later went on to chastise the glaze for ‘falsely accusing’ her rolls of being ready – Paul Hollywood, QC, you may rest your case. Lovely stormin Norman, sadly feeling increasingly on borrowed time, opted for another simple recipe of plain bread rolls with caraway seeds and sultanas. “I’m not Heston Blumenthal” he balked. A claim he hilariously contradicted within minutes by happily brandishing a temperate gun not unlike a Thunderbirds weapon. Though, as Bake Off proves to me each week I know nothing about modern baking and its tools and tricks. In a headline-grabbing divergence from her usual northern warmth Nancy claimed her aggressive dough kneading was a useful outlet ‘rather than taking it out on the dog.’ What would Paul O’ Grady say!? Her resulting cider and walnut crusty rolls were another subtle triumph for this Mum-to-watch. ‘Stunning’ thought Mary. ‘Undercooked, but almost perfection’ agreed Paul. This was the week Diana decided to cream her buns (STOP) with a cheese and nut butter. The resulting walnut rolls were another mediocre offering from this batty baker, with Paul criticising her presentation principally. It was Luis who won the highest level of praise. The jovial and imaginative bakers ‘opposites attract’ rolls with fennel and parsnip and carrot, coffee and chocolate dough. ’I’m only here once’ he rightly defended of his brave concoction. A valiant effort that was met with a handshake from Paul and a testimony of being ‘baked very, very well.’ I like Luis. We all like Luis. I think I’m about to make my first bold prediction: he is definitely going to go the distance.

Sandwiched between this week’s tasks was Paul’s ciabatta technical test. Sue described the perfect result ‘a strong crust, good dome and airy structure.’ Could easily be Paul in another five years. The key with ciabatta, and therefore the biggest challenge for the technical round, was the unidentified waiting time the dough required. Cue another of this week’s genuinely tense clock-watching sequences that was just lacking the Countdown clock for drama. After endless agonising to prove or not to prove, how long and how holey the dough should be we reached the dreaded anonymous table judging. I love the technical round for this. It’s a joy to watch the faces of our bakers squirming like a class of pupils as the teacher marks their exercise books. It was another iffy round for Iain with his Italian loaf nearer to a pitta than a roll. Jordan, too, provided his weekly car crash with an equally flat offering with added unsightly oil residue. These two hapless chaps are regularly inconsistent and I doubt either of them will make it past week five. Thankfully they’ve enough hair between them to garner some kind of Shoreditch modelling work. Kate was the eventual winner with Norman delighted to be fourth. He had a lot to be proud of with Paul exclaiming ‘his length was good.’


To the final showstopping coda. This week’s challenge somewhat paled in to comparison to the epic biscuit bake of last week but creating a bread centrepiece still resulted in some imaginative and downright eyebrow raising creations. They could fill, stuff, tear or fold as long as it was spectacular on the outside, looked good on the in and tasted delicious. Iain looked to claw his way back from expulsion with his Moroccan plait hailed ‘a success’ by Paul. Martha, a quiet week for her, was aghast when realising she failed to alternate flavoured petals on her stuffed sunflower loaf. Paul deflowered her further when claiming it needed longer in the oven. It was far from a sweeping success of a round. Kate’s halo was cruelly tarnished when her prosciutto, coriander & olive loaf was revealed to be raw inside. Norman’s stuffed Mediterranean loaf was criticised for resembling a family pie. ‘I hope there’s more excitement when we get inside’ cooed Mary recalling her misspent youth ala Carry on Camping. Finally to Jordan, surely already digging the bus ticket from his fluffy pocket, saw his strawberry and raspberry cheesecake brioche (cream cheese! Raspberry compote! Inside together!) fail miserably in a mess so grotesquely horrifying I thought Casualty had mislaid a prop. With a sunken middle and its inner third raw there was no ambulance on stand-by for Jordan as he was shown the tent door (flap?) A deserved exit for a baker looking increasingly amateur against some hugely talented rivals.

Week 3 rundown...

Bad egg

Now Enwezor has gone (whom, I admit, this category was solely created for) I am struggling. It’s Chetna though. Who, you cry? She’s perfectly nice but yet to make much of an impact.

Good egg

Kate. Along with star baker Luis she’s a sure-fire contender for the final already.

Smut watch
Some incredible subtle filth this week but Diana wins for her conversation with Paul ‘I quite like it broken through the sides.’ (Just me?)

 Next for the scraps
I think it could be time for Norman and his bland bakes to take a bow.

  Next week: DESSERTS! My favourite. I’ll be here salivating at the same time next week.

Read our review of Week 2
Read our Review of Week 1

Contributed by Craig Heathcote

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