Bread week. The week when Paul Hollywood truly reigns supreme, casting his beading eye very critically over the bakers and their creations.
And he certainly wasn’t accepting anything less than perfection from the ten bakers remaining in the Bake Off tent. He also pointed out that the star baker from bread week had gone on to the final three of the programme, so with that in mind I was eager to see who would rise to the challenge and who would fall flat…
For the signature challenge the judges requested bread containing chocolate in some form. Immediately we had some controversy – Andrew had chosen to bake a Barmbrack bread, – a traditional Irish Halloween loaf – but replaced the usual raisins with chocolate chip. Andrew also chose to prove his bread just the once, something Paul was sceptical about.
The other bakers proved their bread twice, once after making it and for a second time after shaping it, careful to prove it just enough so it would hold its shape while it was baking. Many of the bakers chose to use a twist shape for their bread, however Candice and Kate opted to split their dough into balls and then lay them on their trays so they would form a tear-and-share type bake.
For many it seemed the balance between their chosen flavours and the ratio of bread to filling caused a problem, with Mary commenting that the chilli in Michael’s chilli and chocolate bread was too much, while Jane was amongst the bakers guilty of over filling her bread. Tom however, who also chose to use chilli, appeared to have got the balance in flavours right, and even though Paul questioned whether he’d really produced a loaf of bread or if he’d just stuck a load of Chelsea buns together, he received a seal of approval.
Despite his misgivings, Paul admitted that Andrew’s bread was good and only proving once was a good decision, however amongst the casualties of this first challenge were Benjamina, who’s bread Paul described as having the consistency of wallpaper paste and Candice who’s bread was so raw the judges didn’t even taste it.
The technical challenge was a stroke of evil genius from Mr Hollywood, as he requested the bakers make 12 damphnudel*, which we learnt from Mel and Sue are German in origin, and are essentially steamed dumplings.
All of the bakers seemed at a loss as to what they were and what they should look like, so the field was fairly even. The highlight of this challenge undoubtedly came from Kate who told Sue, “I don’t know what I’m doing so if I get it horribly wrong it doesn’t really matter, because these will always be the best damphnudel I’ve ever made.” Interesting logic to say the least.
In the end, it was Val who took the top spot, with Rav and his very raw damphnudel coming in last, while the best damphnudel’s Kate will ever make earned her 8th place.
Finally, the showstopper. The bakers most definitely had massive shoes to fill as no one can forget the brilliance of Paul’s bread lion from last series. For this task, the judges required a savoury plaited bread with three different flours. Andrew again was a stand out for me, with his bread basket making a wonderful centre piece (and as Mel and Sue soon discovered an equally good hat).
And so the star baker, and by Paul’s reckoning one of the final three, was Tom, while unfortunately it was Michael who Paul and Mary sent home.
Next week, in a first for The Great British Bake Off, the nine remaining bakers take on batter…
*Not being a connoisseur of German baking I was unfamiliar with the correct spelling of damphnudel, and therefore went to a completely reliable source for reference… The Great British Bake Off’s wikipedia page…
Photos from BBC show ‘The Great British Bake Off’, no copyright infringement intended.