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September 15, 2019
Well the bake off bread week threatened to lose two people but we only lost one in the end.
There is more tension in the air because it’s bread week, an engrossing time for Bake Off fans who shudder at the thought of under-proofed dough, overworked loaves and underbaked creations. Perhaps it’s owed to a new technical challenge involving veggie burger baps that might prove controversial for Bake Off purists who expect only baking, not cooking – but thoroughly enjoyable for those looking for a more experimental flavour to their favourite show. In any case, it’s a step in the right direction after a slightly lukewarm start.
The signature challenge, a tear-and-share loaf – a Bake Off classic whose name conjures up horror images of gloopy accoutrements, slimy dough and ill-fated shapes. Immediately (and understandably), the bakers were worried: about their proofing time, about their baking time, and about the ever-looming threat of still-raw dough (in which judge Paul Hollywood has a habit of sticking an uncompromising thumbprint to show just how underdone it is).
Rosie struggled with the size of her chili-manchego tear-and-share and feared it wasn’t rising properly, but Hollywood and his fellow judge Prue Leith ended up loving it. Michael’s star-shaped tear-and-share, flavoured with paprika and coconut, earned him the first “Hollywood handshake” (the highest honour that can be bestowed on Bake Off, short of the Star Baker title), an especially notable feat given that this is the first of this series.
Henry’s chicken and pesto tear-and-share, while visually appealing (it was inspired by a checkerboard!), was deemed “a little bit bland” by Hollywood. As for Amelia’s chorizo tear-and-share, it looks “a bit thrown together”, says Leith, who also struggled with the amount of chilli in the bake and started coughing. This didn’t bode well for later.
The technical was a Bake Off first: the contestants had to make not only burger baps, but they had to also cook veggie patties, which is unusual on a baking show, and assemble the whole thing into a burger-like construction! Simple on the face of it but many treacherous pitfalls lay ahead as the bakers attempted to craft the perfect baps! (cue for several innuendoes) They had to develop the gluten properly through good needing, lest their bun taste cakey, said Hollywood, and they had to leave them to proof long enough. Amelia came 11th, which is to say last, followed by Phil and Rosie. Third spot went to Steph, David landed the second spot and Henry was rewarded with the first place.
For the showstopper challenge this week, the bakers were tasked with crafting a “display of artistically scored decorative loaves”, as Fielding put it. If, like me, you have never baked bread in your life (save for one ill-fated attempt around the age of 10), “scoring” is the technical term for how bakers slash the dough with a knife or another sharp item before putting it in the oven, which lets the bread expand in certain places and looks pretty. Their displays must contain at least two loaves, but you didn’t qualify for the Bake Off tent without being a bit of an overachiever, so naturally, our 11 bakers set out to go above and beyond. Over the course of five hours, they were required to make, knead, proof, score and bake their various doughs, which was a bit of a logistical challenge as, of course, their proofing drawers and ovens only had limited space, meaning they must stagger the various parts of their final creations.
Henry boldly went for a herb-garden-themed bake involving two fougasses, a type of bread associated with Provence – a risky choice, since fougasse isn’t meant to be scored and scoring is the decisive element this time around. He paid for it come judging time as Leith deems his fougasse “quite tough”. Amelia’s caterpillar transformation (which included a bready butterfly) suffered a similar fate – it lacked finesse, according to Leith, while Hollywood deems the baking “terrible”. Steph’s bouquet of flowers with beetroot, rosemary, turmeric and sesame seeds, on the contrary, was a hit with both Leith and Hollywood, as was Michael’s Mediterranean campfire with charcoal, smoked garlic and parmesan, and black onion seeds.
Unsurprisingly, Michael, who had a great episode, was crowned Star Baker, while Amelia left the tent paying for a lack of planning and timing in this episode.
A simple share and tear method is shared below should you wish to have a bash:
Tear-and-share stuffed deli rolls
(from a jar), drained and chopped
Enjoy and happy baking!
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