Oh, I love bread. When the subject of bread comes up I feel like that bloke on The Fast Show: ‘Int bread brilliant? Y’know, it’s all bready and that, and you can toast it, or have it with jam, or with cheese, and you can get them loaves that look like little fat women with buns on their ‘eads, or long ones what look like weapons, light sabres and stuff, and they all taste brilliant!’
It was bread week on The Great British Bake Off this week, and I have to say that it really hit stride for me this week. There was not a single thing I did not love about this week’s episode. Paul was back to his normal, gimlet eyed self after a couple of weeks of soft pedalling on the whole ‘I am a man who pounds dough with his bare hands, hear me roar,’ routine. Mary threw in a few corkers herself. She specialised this week in that sideways steely gaze that boded no well for people who hadn’t been industrious enough for her liking. This is why I am not in the tent.
The other reason would be that I thrown out for abandoning my own bakes in favour of eating everyone else’s. Goodness there were some amazing flavours. As soon as the episode finished I went and raided the bread bin and wolfed down half a loaf with salted butter to satisfy the ravening hunger pangs I had sustained in the course of the previous hour. NOM.
This week the signature bake was to make quick breads. Quick breads it turns out, is a fancy name for what is essentially soda bread. That conundrum solved, I was able to sit back and salivate my way through the round. It was difficult to know whose I’d have started with to be honest, but I think I agree with Paul that Alvin’s manchego and prosciutto mix was my favourite, although the spicy Moroccan mixtures that Nadiya and Matt put together were also winners, and Ian’s wild garlic bread looked amazing.
I felt so sorry for Alvin. He seems like such an emotional baker. His hands were shaking like crazy when he was trying to put his loaf in the oven, and what with him welling up last week when things went a bit wrong I feel like Mel and Sue should invest in a box of supersize Kleenex for the coming weeks. It can only get more tense and emotional, after all, they’re only at round three. I suspect he’s worried about his chipmunks. Or he’s eaten them and doesn’t want anyone to find out.
The technical this week was to make four baguettes of equal size and beauty. This is the problem really isn’t it? Well, apart from the problem of having to know how to cook a baguette in the first place, but the real problem is that you might just pull off cooking one thing reasonably well if the gods are with you and the wind is blowing in the right direction, but duplicating that? Not so easy. This was proved by an interesting selection of lumpy baguettes which for the most part were not ideally matched. Ian blasted into first place with baguettes that looked great, and which when Paul snapped them had a crunch that made me weep with hunger. Paul not Hollywood on the other hand, came last, with four, flaccid pools of baguette that were distinctly anaemic and not at all the thing. He was not best pleased, despite having bested Paul who is Hollywood in the signature round by proving him wrong about the wetness of his dough and the baking time. It was like watching two silver back gorillas clashing over a female, made of dough.
The show stopper this week was a monster truck behemoth of a show stopper, with the contestants having to create a bread sculpture which contained three different types of bread dough. Paul not Hollywood did magnificently, creating the Lion King out of bread. It was truly splendid, but I cannot say I was surprised by his choice. It will be interesting to see what other alpha male bakes he comes up with as the weeks go by, particularly next week during the dessert round. Creme brûlées in the shape of skulls perhaps?
Tamal made a breadcycle, which was excellent in many ways, not least of which was its name. The fact that its wheels were made of Chelsea buns only added to the excitement. It is the first time I’ve been enthused about bicycles since 1978 and the thought that I might get to own a Raleigh Chopper (I didn’t – boo), so fair play to Tamal.
Alvin made ALL the bread. Literally all the bread. He had made a cornucopia and was determined not to be found wanting. It was amazing, and so massive it took three people to carry it to the judging table. He wasn’t messing around, our Alvin. No chipmunks were harmed during the making of these loaves.
Other bakes of note included Ian’s gorgeous looking flowerpot creation, which sealed the deal on his second week of being crowned star baker, and Flora’s Alexander McQueen style bread dress. Other bakes of note for the wrong reasons were Sandy’s mangled poppies, which began to look a bit triffidesque and Matt’s Brighton pavilion made out of Indian inspired breads, which was underdone to my great disappointment, as the idea was brilliant.
Dorrett went home this week after having failed to practice her show stopper, and then confessing this to Paul and Mary. I’d never tell, even under torture. She had made an homage to Tracey Emin’s bed sculpture, which was, if I’m honest a bit grim, given what was in the original sculpture, and not entirely helped by the fact that the homage was quite raw in places.
Other items of note this week:
Sandy continues to delight me. I just love her, and despite her disastrous poppies I want to go round to her house for tea.
The filler film this week was about Ukranian marriage bread loaf thingies. Firstly I want one. Secondly I want to go to someone else’s wedding and eat one (bearing in mind I’m not a huge fan of weddings, but will obviously be bribed for bread). Thirdly, they make sculptures of the guests in the shape of birds and stick them to the loaves. I want someone to make a bird bread sculpture of me. I think I’d probably be a sparrow, although depending on what day it is, Jason might say an old buzzard.
You can watch this week’s episode here. (N.B. I will have to add this link later. It’s not up on iPlayer yet)
Next week, desserts.