Wanders in singing: ‘Bread glorious bread, hot croissants and pikelets, kick Paul in the head, what-eeever you doooo, he’s not going to like it….’
And that, ladies and gentlemen was basically bread week on The Great British Bake Off .
Paul, Paul, Paul….
Have a lie down, have a gin, have a fag, have some mind bending hallucinogenic drugs, have two pints of lager and a packet of crisps please. Whatever, but for God’s sake man, cheer up.
If I acted like Paul acted on the Bake Off last night, some well meaning misogynistic twit would undoubtedly have pulled the ‘period’ face at me. At which point, obviously, I would have slapped him around like Selasi kneading bread, and had to be frog marched out of the tent by Mel and Sue performing a citizen’s arrest. It looked like Paul wanted to do that so badly last night.
He was, in Midland’s parlance, a right mardy arse, wasn’t he? You couldn’t do right for doing wrong.
Which made a notoriously difficult week, even more difficult.
First up the bakers only got two and a half hours to make a chocolate loaf. Two and a half hours in bread making terms is a bit like me being expected to cook a whole roast dinner in half an hour (looks sternly at my children and shakes head). It’s just not long enough, whichever way you slice it, and entirely explained why three quarters of the bakers presented raw dough to Paul and Mary, of which Candice’s was the worst. It mostly looked like chocolate lava to be honest.
Andrew and Rav, the only ones to totally ignore Paul’s carping and just get on quietly and efficiently doing their own thing, were two of the very few that managed to produce edible, cooked loaves at the end. They resisted the urge to run round behind Paul’s back pulling faces, going cross-eyed and flicking the V’s, which was very mature of them. I am, of course, hoping I am wrong about this, and it will feature as an out-take on Jo Brand’s programme later in the week.
The technical round this week, was the first week of the season in which they introduced my second law of Bake Off. The second law of Bake Off, for the uninitiated is, that there will always be technical challenges which feature items that are entirely fictional and which have been brainstormed by Paul and Mary in the judging tent, aided by a pint of gin and a packet of pork pies.
The fictional item in question was the entirely specious ‘dampfnudel’. Despite there being a Wikipedia page about them, and footage of bearded German men singing about their long and enduring love for the dampfnudel, I am still not convinced of their existence in real, actual, non easy to fake televised life. I also have a grudge against them if they do actually exist due to the fact that they were a key factor in the Thirty Years War, which I studied for approximately fifty years at A Level. With, I might add, no mention of the dampfnudel as a deciding factor in the conflict.
I feel like putting up a poster: ‘Have you, or your friends ever experienced dampfnudel? We have a dampfnudel support group. We can help. Call us today.’
I believe you would need the aid of a support group if you were to actually eat dampfnudel, because even the ones Paul winsomely tempted Mary with in the judging tent looked absolutely foul. As Tallulah said: ‘Mum. They look like sweaty buttocks.’ I cannot improve on that simile. I won’t even try.
A dampfnudel is basically an iced bun without the icing which you steam in a pan rather than bake in the oven. They should look anaemic on top, be stodgy in the middle and slightly burned on the bottom, judging from the demonstration. They are served with plum sauce and custard. The custard was the only bit I got remotely excited about.
If you take the lid off the dampfnudel pan while it’s steaming, they sink. If you don’t steam them for long enough they’re raw. If you do everything perfectly, they’re still awful.
As for the poor bakers, none of them had ever heard of them (due to them being FICTIONAL) and there were no clues on the recipe sheet Paul had provided. Basically the recipe sheet was totally useless this week and would have been better off being replaced by Mel and Sue shouting: ‘Cook dampfnudel!’ or just repetitively singing the dampfnudel song while hitting colanders with a wooden spoon and marching up and down the tent.
I believe it tells you everything you need to know when I reveal to you that ‘Mad as a box of frogs’ Val won the technical. She put it down to the fact that she’s old and she’s cooked a lot of dumplings in her time. I put it down to the fact that she has a vivid imagination and is thus far more able to relate to fictional buns than anyone else.
Pretty much everyone else served up things that were pudgy, raw blobs of sweaty dough with burned bottoms. Which was nice.
The show stopper this week was to make a plaited loaf with three different types of bread dough. I think Paul had been over excited by last year’s baker, Paul, and his three dimensional Lion King loaf, and decided to up the ante.
Selasi, as laid back as ever, basically made random loaves which were sort of in the shape of things he saw while he was on holiday (this would have been, if I had done this, a cake, a sandwich and an ice cream). I wonder if he even forgets he’s in the tent sometimes. He never lost his cool, not even in the previous two challenges in which he burned everything to pretty much a cinder. Jane would have cried at the mere thought, she’s that much of a crier, but he merely shrugged it off as ‘that nice kind of burned.’ I love him. It is massively impressive that even under Bake Off conditions he just seems to float through every round. He is my new zen idol. The Dalai lama can do one.
My favourite in this round was Rav’s loaf which was a kind of round, Divali inspired temple of deliciously stuffed breads that made me want to claw my way through the screen and stuff them in my ravening maw. I was really pleased for Benjamina in this round too. She had just wanted to present something that wasn’t raw, but not only did she do that, it was also tasty. I was similarly delighted that Jane managed to cry tears of happiness in this round. It made up for the salt tears of disappointment from the previous rounds. I must give a mention to Kate’s spectacular corn dolly bread, which was practically perfect in every way, even though I wrestle slightly with her natural farmery goodness, because I am mean.
Yet again, special mention goes to Val and her box of frogs for outwitting Paul’s snark this week. Her Noah’s ark and animals, which were not two by two thank you, because according to Val ‘the giraffes argued’ and the other dove had somewhere else to be, was as comprehensively bonkers as she is. Nevertheless when Paul made a pointed remark about her bread being salty and was it because of the sea water, she just said: ‘Yes. It is,’ in that way that left absolutely no doubt that it was, and he was, for the first time, rendered speechless. She would have got star baker from me this week for that remark alone.
Nevertheless it was, much to my surprise, Tom who got star this week (I thought it would be Andrew), and poor Michael who failed to make the grade, despite trying to poison Paul by getting him to drink what looked like Cuprinol.
You can catch up here, if you have the licence fee ready.
Next week, batter.