Bread Week is usually one of those weeks that can really make or break a baker – both mentally and, on very rare occasions, physically. As this week’s challenges are all mainly dictated by the silver-haired marvel that is Paul Hollywood, you know already that the bakers are in for a very hard and emotional week.
The first Signature Challenge was to create a chocolate bread loaf. It could be any type of bread, texture or contain any additional flavours, as long as the end product was chocolatey and bready. Simple enough, right? Well, with the additional of chocolatey goodness, there is a risk of the bread being undercooked and doughy if it’s not timed correctly…the horror!!!!!
Like with all the challenges before, there is always a healthy level of panic but this week seemed to be just unlucky for everyone. Whilst everyone was trying to make as flavourful a bake as possible, Jane was told she was adding too much and Candice had a doughy, chocolatey mess when trying to get hers out of the tin! She even had her bake shunned by Paul as he refused to eat it. To be honest, I would have cried too if Paul or Mary shunned my baked goods. The chocolatey bread standouts for this week were Rav’s chocolate, cardamom and hazelnut babka, Selasi’s dark chocolate, orange and chilli swirl bread and, although it was a soggy mess, Candice’s chocolate, salted caramel and pecan brioche. If it had enough time to cook, that would have been amazing.
This week’s Technical Challenge was something never tried before on Bake Off. The bakers had to make 12 Dampfnudel accompanied by a lovely plum sauce and crème anglaise. Dampfnudel…DAMPFNUDEL! Thank you, you wonderful Germans. We will be yelling Dampfnudel for the rest of this week. Not only are these fun to say but apparently the people of Freckenfeld, Germany consider them to be life-saving treats. If you’ve no idea what a Dampfnudel is then you’re not alone. Apparently, if you’ve never tried one, it’s like what the Chinese would call mantou (steamed buns) or what we would called steamed dumplings. Or something similar.
In order to make the best steamed buns possible, the idea is to steam the dough. Meaning what ever you do, don’t open the lid too early. Unfortunately, since this is a technical challenge, there was no warning so many of the bakers did just that. This just wasn’t a kind week for the bakers. The winner of this challenge was Val, who used her dumpling-making experience to create the best Dampfnudel, and Rav came last after seeing the results of breaking the number one rule of Dampfnudel – don’t take off the lid too early.
The last doughy challenge was the Showstopper. For this one, the bakers had to create a savoury, plaited bread centrepiece. It could be any shape, any flavour or as big as they wanted, as long at it is big, flavourful and the plaits are bold and distinctive. A last chance to show that they are not completely hopeless when it comes to breaded bakes. Like with the Signature Challenge, there is a risk that if they go too big and overfill the dough, they could get a sloppy, un-detailed, doughy mess. Will anyone beat the famous Bake Off bread Lion from last year’s season? If you haven’t seen it, go straight to google. It’s marvellous! The standouts for this challenge were Kate’s Corn maiden flavoured with goats cheese, cheddar and beer, Michael’s Cypriot inspired, dove and olive branches, flavoured with olives, coriander and sun-dried tomatoes and Tom’s mythical Jormungandr and Mjolnir centrepiece filled with cranberries, walnuts, ale and seaweed. It was quite a hit and miss challenge, but it was great to see Tom win for his bake (and divert Mel’s innuendo advances about his hammer…bad Mel) as it was the best on offer. Unfortunately, Michael had to go but I honestly did think that was an unfair decision. There was much worse on offer and arguably, it could have been Val’s time to go rather than Michael. She’s a lucky one.
Next week is Batter Week! You can start dreaming of all the pancakes and Yorkshire puddings now.