Baking Bread

GBBO Episode 3 - Bread Week: 'It's the Toughest One Yet...'

Even the voice of the programme announcer was doom-filled. “It’s the toughest one ever...” he intoned. Well, my fellow bake-off fans, he was right. In a decidedly macho episode of the GBBO which has undoubtedly launched hitherto obscure words such as ‘damfnudel’ and ‘babka’ into common parlance, our plucky bakers were presented with three fiendishly difficult challenges by a demanding (and it has to be said, rather grumpy) Paul Hollywood. “The last thing I want is raw dough..” he growled. Oh dear – guess what he got.

Chocolate bread – or is it cake?

Prowling around the tent like a lion with toothache, this week Paul seemed to be on a mission to cast doubt into the minds of the bakers. He roamed through the workstations prodding at the raw dough with his “digits of doom”, raising eyebrows, leaving pregnant pauses and asking questions designed to unsettle even the most confident bakers. 

We thought they were making bread, but of course it wasn’t that simple. One of the burning questions of this exhausting night’s viewing of intense baking was “is it a Babka or a Couronne?” It’s a loaf isn’t it? Apparently not. 

Babka is more usually a cake according to Paul, and it is certainly not a Couronne. Bravely sticking their heads right into the lion’s jaws, both Rav and Benjamina argued the toss with the bake-offs very own king of the jungle. Finally he got a ticking off from Mary. “There’s no need to be grumpy about it,” she told him briskly, and he backed off. He’s a pussycat really.

Country Kate floated serenely above the tension in the tent. “I don’t like faffing with bread, I’m more of a bloomers and baps girl,” she stated cheerily and went on to bake Nanny Cobbold’s loaf with two doughs rolled into balls hiding chunks of dark and white chocolate. Jane was back to being smiley this week but her over-filled loaf reminded Sue ever so slightly of the film Alien. “A hint of John Hurt’s stomach,” she pronounced a little queasily.

But it was pouty Candice, resplendent with the promised bright red lipstick, who was reduced to tears on the first bake of the day with an undercooked and collapsed loaf. Anyone would think she had committed a serious crime, “I’m so sorry” she wailed.   A slightly taken aback Paul told her there was “Nothing to be embarrassed about.” Candice perked up and the pout returned. What colour will she wear next week? I can hardly wait to find out… 

Home Chef can help…

Dough scraper - Ease the load. A heavy lump of damp dough can be sticky and hard to handle but a dough scraper makes light work of scraping the dough from the board and cutting it up. 

Flour dredger - Pop some flour into one of these little shakers and you can sprinkle in a jiffy. 

All steamed up about dampfnudel

Paul was beside himself with glee as he announced “We’ve never done anything like this on the bake-off before,” and Mary was intrigued. “It’s like an iced bun without the icing,” she pronounced which gave us all a clue of the texture required.

Our bakers were perplexed – this was the technical challenge after all which means they hadn’t seen the recipe before it was presented to them. However, despite some tricky moments, they all seemed to rise to the challenge pretty well. 

Ever so cool Selasi, who in the previous challenge had declared himself a rogue baker who doesn’t usually stick to recipes (why are we not surprised Selasi?) went all macho with the kneading. Slapping and punching his dough he made sure everyone could hear the calibre of his dampfnudel, while Country Kate took a more delicate approach. “How are your balls?” asked Sue. “I’m just pinching their bottoms,” she replied.

The finished buns were pale on top as they bloomed in their steamy pans without a hint of top heat to colour them, but they did require browned bottoms. They were served up on the gingham alter with two sauces, and all the bakers deserved a round of applause for surviving this appalling challenge so successfully.

At last, a triumph for delightfully dotty Val who won the challenge with her great tasting dampfnudel. “I’m older than everyone else, maybe I’ve just made more dumplings than everyone else?” she said. Well she has a point.

Home Chef can help…

Measuring jug - A few of these are useful.  Choose a variety of sizes and you will be able to measure out your wet ingredients ready to add into your dry mix. Simples. 

Timer - One of the most vital pieces of baking equipment. The bakers tend to have several on the go at once, timing different parts of the baking process. Don’t think you’ll remember to look in the oven at the exact moment your bread’s ready – you won’t. Get yourself a timer. 

One “whopping great loaf” – three flours

“The star baker of the bread week has always gone into the final,” pronounced Paul as the bakers set off on their four hour challenge to create a show stopping centrepiece of a loaf. 

Plaiting proved to be a challenge for some. “I was playing football not watching the girls,” said Selasi. It’s my bet he was pretty expert at both. Val couldn’t remember when to go over and when to go under, but of course Kate was able to rustle up a beautifully plaited corn dolly by remembering how to plait her pony’s tail. I think she’s passed her Brownie plaiting badge too.

“The shape you’ve created is very male isn’t it?” asked an amused Mel of Tom’s loaf depicting a serpent and Thor’s hammer. “I’m not being led,” he replied stoutly, refusing to be humoured. “My Mum’s going to be watching this.” And even a smirking Paul was won over by the perfect proving and spot on texture of the loaves. 

Benjamina had a simple aim “It would be good if it was cooked,” she said, but she pulled it off in barnstorming fashion. “Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous” said a beaming Paul. Well you can’t ask for much more than that. 

Is it a slug? Is it a chicken? No it’s a giraffe of course. Val’s heroic effort to produce a Noah’s Ark complete with two giraffes but only one elephant and one dove proved a step too far. “Shouldn’t there be two doves…? asked a bemused Mel. “One’s flown away,” explained Val. 

Young Michael was full of enthusiasm for his traditional Cypriot loaf, a combination of flavours inspired by his grandmother and served with a tot of Zivania made in his Aunt’s village. Sadly his idea was sound but the execution was not. “Brace, brace” called Sue as Paul was nearly floored by a tiny sip of the 99% liquor. The snifter prepared him for the disappointing bake which proved to be the downfall of Michael who was this week’s losing baker.

Tom won Star Baker so if Paul’s right we will see him in the final. Let’s hope he finds his sense of humour before then. I’m sure it’s in there somewhere.

Home Chef can help…

Bread knife - Now you’ve cooked your bread you need to cut it and release that newly baked smell. Yum. Choose your favourite from a selection of the sharpest knives in the box with Home Chef.

Bread basket - Unless you’ve baked yourself your own plaited basket like Andrew, you’re going to need something to put your bread in. Home Chef has a cornucopia of baskets to choose from. 

Follow our GBBO blog every week on the website and on our Home Chef Facebook page – @HomeChefUK. Don’t forget to post your ideas and comments on the unfolding Bake-Off story, we’d love to hear from you!   

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