Dough Nuts

The Great British Baking Show | Netflix | W3: Bread Week

It’s bread week in the tent, and this relatively new challenge in the The Great British Baking Show usually makes for some interesting creations. Baking a cake or cookies is an intricate process, but proving* dough for bread is a whole different challenge entirely.

*In cooking, proofing (also called proving) is a step in the preparation of yeast bread and other baked goods where the dough is allowed to rest and rise a final time before baking. During this rest period, yeast ferments the dough and produces gases, thereby leavening the dough (via Wikipedia)

Before the baking, a writer’s note: This show is called The Great British Bake Off in the UK, but because Pillsbury owns the trademark for the term “Bake Off” in the United States, they changed the title to “Baking Show.”

For the first time since watching this series on Netflix, I noticed how they do the introduction for the US audience: if you watch closely, this week it’s exceptionally clear that Noel and Matt both say “Welcome to The Great British Bake Off,” but the audio is dubbed over at the end to say “Baking Show.” I foolishly thought they just filmed the intro twice, and never noticed this bit of great British trickery! End of note.

Most bakers are nervous about these challenges, as they are not experienced in making bread. Let’s see how things turn out!

Marc has a buttermilk mishap

Signature Challenge

The bakers must make two loaves of soda bread – one sweet and one savory – and a butter to go with them. Prue says she’s expecting lots of cheese, herbs and nuts, and it would be nice to see someone using something different.

Careful what you wish for, Prue… Rowan’s breads have Italian sausage, olives, capers – and polenta?! Peter uses black pudding (no comment) and ginger beer, and Hermine uses smoked salmon and Gruyere cheese.

When they’re done baking, the bakers tap the bottoms of the loaves to make sure they’re hollow inside – pro tip!

Here’s how some turned out:

Salmon + bread = handshake!

Most bakers do well with this challenge, though some breads come out more cake-like, according to Paul; however, Rowan’s Italian-inspired breads didn’t hit the mark.

Hermine’s soda breads earn her this season’s second Hollywood Handshake TM – he says he thinks her breads are very special. #TheFeels.

Technical Challenge

Paul’s advice for his challenge? “You need to get your timings right.” Helpful. This could apply to any situation, in any scenario, really. I wonder how often the bakers even listen to the “advice” because it’s never particularly useful… anyway…

The goal of the Technical Challenge

The challenge is to bake six rainbow colored bagels, and very few of the bakers have made bagels before, let alone with five different colored doughs.

The bakers all have different techniques on twisting, rolling and preparing their rainbow dough, but they all actually seem to be very successful in creating bagel-looking forms of dough. When they prove and then boil, things start to fall apart.

The bakers put their boiled dough in the oven to bake, with a wide array of varying results. Some are very thin, others very flat, and some are over-proved (according to Paul). Overall the bakers got the colors and flavors, but the consistency and shapes are all over the place. Rowan comes in last place; in the top three are Mark in third, Marc in second, and Linda in first.

Over the rainbow

Showstopper Challenge

For the final bread week challenge, Paul and Prue ask the bakers to create – in 3 hours and 30 minutes – a bread plaque, representing a celebration of the thing for which they are most grateful.

The plans are very ambitious; Hermine attempts to make brioche and focaccia to depict her road trips to France. Lottie plans to make her house, in bread, while Peter uses stencils to make the Edinbugh skyline. It’s a good thing they get to practice this type of bake (though seeing them try to do this with no practice at all might be hilarious television), though even with practice many of the bakers have trouble with steps along the way.

The bakers finish their bread plaques, and some are sights to behold! Here are a few of the finished products:

Hermine and Sura get positive comments from the judges; Laura and Peter are less successful. Marc’s Dharma Wheel was impressive all around; when you consider that every one of these constructions was made of bread, it’s impressive to me when any detail comes through – in bread!

Matt announces the week’s star baker is Marc! His Dharma Wheel looked incredible, and according to the judges tasted great as well. Noel announces that the person leaving the tent will be Rowan – who has had a rough go of it for the past few challenges.

So bread week, as usual, was tough for the bakers – though some managed to make some great creations. I think they should just chuck this gimmick; it was a novel idea when it started, but to me it still seems out of place in this competition. I know bread is baked and it’s a Baking Show, and it can’t always be about cake and cookies, but does anyone – the judges, the bakers, the audience, Noel – really enjoy bread week? Let’s leave the savory and the bread out of the baking competition; we could all use more sweet things on TV, right? M

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