Bread Week was the best in Bake Off history; better than 8-strand plait in Series Three and even better than Paul the Psychic Octopus tribute loaf in Series Four. This week had one of the best Signatures by the cast and the single most impressive showstopper EVER.
Let’s start with the (for me) controversial Signature challenge entitled “Quick Bread”. So there was my surprise when all 10 of the bakers did a soda bread. I was expecting some no-prove cinnamon buns like the ones found in Rachel Allen’s Bake and I even made Quick Chocolate Dough-Knots.
Yet the challenge seemed to be a euphemism for 2 loaves of Soda Bread. Nothing against soda bread because in my opinion, all 10 of the bakers seemed to do well. My highlights were Ugne’s Chocolate Salted Caramel Soda Breads and Paul’s Cranberry and Orange Soda Breads with Paul getting the Hollywood Handshake.
Alvin’s bread provided another innuendo from Mary: “Now I’m into it, I want more”. Thanks Alvin.
The Technical Challenge was baguettes. Sounds simple yet Paul was looking for a crusty baguette and none of the bakers could quite deliver. The judging was one of the harshest I can remember and even Ian and Flora’s first and second place baguettes didn’t satisfy Paul. I do wonder why the bakers don’t watch his programme on bread endlessly before, they might find the Technical easier.
To the (weirdest) Showstopper yet and it’s a 3D bread sculpture. No one really knew what this challenge involved and probably explained why we had the Brighton Pavilion to a snake to a bicycle created in bread. It was definitely a weird challenge but Paul (the amateur) knocked everyone else out of the park with his Lion Sculpture. It was the best bake I’ve ever seen on this show and everyone was stunned at that lion. Other bready highlights include Nadiya’s snake charmer basket and Tamal’s Breadcycle. And Alvin baked enough bread to fill a bakery.
Ian’s Wild Garlic Pesto Soda Bread, Flour Power Sculpture and 1st place baguettes all got him the title of Star Baker for the second week in a row. But don’t get too excited, the other times this has happened, neither of those bakers went on to win the series. I’m just saying. Besides Ian I was impressed, as many others were, with Tamal and Nadiya. Tamal has been one of the consistent bakers this series and whilst he hasn’t had that defining moment, he has been near the top each week. I thought his Chelsea bun wheels for his Breadcycle was ingenious. Nadiya hasn’t done great on the Technical Challenges and I don’t think I would either yet she wows me with all of her Signature and Showstoppers. That snake looked phenomenal.
But Paul’s lion got the first ever Special Commendation and it’s a shame that he came last on the Technical because he was going to be Star Baker with that loaf. Not only did he get the Hollywood Handshake, he left Paul (Hollywood) speechless. Yeah he deserved Star Baker.
Next week is Desserts and the return of the Stacked-Bake-Challenge has tension at an all time high with the Stacked Cheesecake Showstopper. Yeah no one is ever going to stack their cheesecakes. But Signature crème brulees and the Technical Spanische Windtorte. Yep I’ve never heard of it either. Turns out it’s just meringue, cream and fruit. Doesn’t sound so exciting now does it? Oh well.