So I had to wait until this evening to get my fix of The Great British Bake Off. I will admit that it felt very weird to be this late to the party. I was worried everyone would have eaten everything and left me with the washing up. Or worse, gotten drunk and given Paul Hollywood my address so he could come and stuff raw bread dough through my letter box as revenge for me being rude about him for two months a year every year for the past five years.
That would be what Michelin starred bakers call a ‘shit load’ of dough. Easily equivalent to the amount used for the 40,000 doughnuts Paul told us he had made in his life time. Crikey. Imagine making forty thousand doughnuts. I note that Mary didn’t divulge the number of doughnuts she has made in a lifetime. Probably a number not yet coined, like squeleventyillion.
I’m not divulging the number of doughnuts I’ve eaten in a life time, but let’s say we could probably launch a competition to name that number and leave it at that.
A further shock to my system occurred when I figured out that I will actually be away in Copenhagen for the final. If it weren’t for the fact that I will be stuffing my face with buns and possibly adding to the doughnut numbers I have consumed, and that I will be in Copenhagen, I would be quite traumatised about it. As it is, I will be a little bit sad – but I think I’ll cope.
I shall drown my sorrows in dough. Advanced dough.
The quarter finals this year was all about advanced dough you see.
As opposed to really stupid dough.
If you missed it, like me, you can catch up here.
Advanced dough, as you might guess, is the stuff that they came up with when they realised that they had exhausted almost every other avenue of baking left open to them and had to hire a team of whacky creatives on primary coloured scooters to hover into view to toss about a bit of blue sky thinking and some crazy flipping ideas, that are like so now they can hardly be called yesterday.
The signature bake this week was to make a sweet, fruited loaf that was also packed with yeasty goodness. Not only that it had to be freeform. Oh blinking yes it did.
Beard, and other jazz related words.
As we know, yeast does not play well with others. It does not know how to share, and often has to sit on the naughty step for pinching everyone else’s crayons and pulling hair. The more things you try to make yeast play with, the more it doesn’t like it.
As we also know, by this stage in the competition everyone has to try and come up with more and more bonkers ideas to sound in the least bit original and outdo each other, so the ingredients pile on ingredients like nobody’s business. This is the week when ingredients lists read:
Oompa Loompa spit
Extract of the Virgin Mary’s tears
Self raising flour
Yeast never likes that. So it is all about the long proving, to try and get yeast to stop sulking and hurry up with the bread thing. Except that the time for everything gets shorter. This week they had two and a half hours to make a loaf which Martha tells us on average takes three and a half hours.
Next week Paul will want eighty five bagels made in five minutes, each with individual and distinct flavours, and possibly some layers. That’s how tricky it’s getting now.
Nancy went completely techno and spent the entire time of her bake doing the Hokey Cokey with the microwave, hoping to speed prove her bread dough and defy Paul’s raised eyebrows in one swift move. Except that she mostly ended up with mutant bread that didn’t quite work, but rose, like a giant zeppelin over the tent, having to be shot down by a passing farmer with an air rifle.
Luis made a kind of hand crafted freeform jazz tree based loaf with sugar cubes filled with cherry liqueur stuffed inside it. It was kind of like a fin de siecle absinthe inspired loaf, made more surreal by the Nineteen Seventies glace cherries he had found by creating a TARDIS loaf and going back to my childhood, just to find stuff to decorate his tree with. I haven’t seen a real, live, green glace cherry like that since 1978.
Do not adjust your set. They really do look like that.
Martha’s loaf had prunes in it, which was apt, as my son pointed out that her loaf turned out to be free formed into the shape of a rather large pooh.
Richard made a Chelsea bun which had been given a passport and come back to the tent via Sweden. Paul thought it might be a bit wet. It turned out to be perfect.
Chetna’s bake however, was the most perfect of all. She made a version of povitica, which is another Eastern European thingummy. A kind of loaf/cake/sauna/Ikea product made so that it looked like a pile of logs on the outside, and a massive hallucinatory fractal on the inside.
Go Chetna. Especially as this was pretty much what they wanted everyone to make in the technical round, which nearly blew Chetna’s amazing orange Converse off with surprise.
Strangely, rather than copy Chetna, who by this time I’d have been watching like a hawk, Richard chose to copy Nancy, who was yet again microwave bound. This time with her rather recalcitrant filling. Luis went rogue with his walnuts, which isn’t something I thought I’d ever have to be typing at this time on a Wednesday evening. Martha admitted she hadn’t watched Chetna the first time, and clearly didn’t think it was worth watching Chetna the second time either.
Surprisingly, except to nobody, Chetna’s was the only vaguely edible offering. Everyone else’s was pretty much raw. Martha’s failure to be a super spy on two occasions left her with the rawest of the raw, and at the very bottom of the pile going into the show stopper.
Numbers were astronomically high in the show stopper this week, with everyone being expected to bake thirty six doughnuts, in two flavours. It strengthens my theory that Mary’s sneaky jacket action last week hotted up the black market, and the shop is back in business. It also lends credence to my other theory that by the final they will be baking cakes which will take us straight back into the realm of imaginary numbers.
Crikey that was a lot of doughnuts under one piece of canvas. It must have smelled like the circus had come to town. Mel and Sue definitely get the clown car. Paul and Mary are still wrestling it out for the top hat and twirling moustache.
My money’s on Mary for what it’s worth.
Lion dung made by Martha’s prune loaf.
Chetna, who is my favourite, as we know, made chocolate mousse filled doughnuts, which confirmed her as my favourite still. Although I’m not sure what was going on with her South African inspired braided, twisty doughnuts. Neither was anyone else.
Luis decided to try and up the ante this week by getting Mary plastered with his Baileys filled doughnuts and Mojito doughnuts. Mary was all for it. She is a goer that one. There was dancing on the roof of the tent after the show stopper round. I’d put money on it. And if the fire brigade didn’t have to be called, I’ll eat my hat.
Nancy made scary doughnuts in the shape of Paul’s face, which she hung from a tree, in the manner of some kind of deep south inspired lynch mob doughnut action for the male judge. She softened the message by also trying to get Mary drunk with her limoncello filled doughnuts.
By this time Mary was weaving about the tent with her tights on her head, getting Paul in a headlock and singing the songs of yore in a slightly maudlin’ voice.
Richard pulled all the stops out and won star baker for the fourth week, with his rhubarb and custard heart shaped doughnuts, which I confess, as a self avowed rhubarb addict, did make my mouth water somewhat, and his apple caramel doughnuts served in tarted up orange boxes.
Martha though, over proved everything it was possible to over prove and produced some seriously disappointing doughnuts which saw her having her worst week in the tent, and being booted off. It was very sad indeed, but nobody could deny that advanced dough with a jazz interlude really wasn’t working for her.
Next week it’s the semi finals and patisserie. Be still my beating heart.