gbbo-bread-rollsPreviously on The Great British Bake Off: The Bakewells built some truly amazing 3-D biscuit scenes, and Enwezor’s Bake Off journey came to an end.

Bread week, everybody! This is so squarely in my wheelhouse you can just go ahead and call me pilot. I make bread every week, at least once, so I love bread week on the GBBO.

Mel and Sue are all bundled up, talking about how great the weather’s been this year. I don’t get the joke—the weather’s actually been pretty nice this summer, except for the rain they got down south.

Everyone heads into the tent, suits up, and are told to bake some rye rolls. Tricky. Rye can be kind of a pain—the flour itself has less gluten than white flour, so it doesn’t really form the kind of light loaves white flour does. It can also be a pain to knead, and many loaves have a very dense quality to them, which can be a bit off putting. It’s not my favourite.

Martha’s doing date and walnut rolls with treacle and honey. Sounds yummy. Paul says her plan to put an egg wash on them is daring, in a ‘wow, that’s a super bad idea,’ kind of tone.

Norman is doing some caraway and sultana rye rolls, nothing fancy.

Luis is going kinda nuts, creating two types of dough that’ll be wrapped together. One has parsnips while the other has carrot, coffee, and chocolate in it. That could be…interesting. Even he admits that. Has he not tried this before?

Bakewells knead and, as I said earlier, it’s tough going.

Kate tells the judges she’s making two-toned knots with orange and cardamom and an orange syrup. Yum. Mary notes that it’s a nice, soft dough. Sue admires Kate’s arm muscles.

Jordan’s flavouring his rolls with lemon, honey, and poppyseeds. Sue says it sounds like a muffin.

Richard’s rye and cranberry rolls have caraway, cinnamon, and treacle. He says he’s making a kind of pumpernickel, but it’s an American pumpernickel. Paul corrects that there’s only one type of pumpernickel, and it comes from Germany. Anything from America is just a faker.

Diana is making cheese and walnut rye rolls. Mary asks if the cheese will slow the rising down and Paul says he can’t say in front of Diana. That means yes.

Doughs are placed in proving drawers (what I wouldn’t give for something like that! Totally superfluous, but I’d actually use it!). Everyone’s fidgety, just sitting around, waiting.

Chetna’s working on an onion and pine nut filling for her dough.

Nancy is making cider and walnut crusty rolls, with pear cider. Paul likes the idea of her putting the crust on the top.

Martha talks to Nancy about her egg wash and how Paul basically told her not to do it, but she’s doing it anyway, because it’s a bit late to go back at this point, isn’t it?

Proved doughs come out of the oven and rolls are shaped. Paul compliments Iain’s technique. He’s making cranberry and walnut rye rolls with a sourdough starter he started five months ago. Some of these rolls are starting to look really beautiful. Back they go in the proving drawer. Norman’s got some gadget that actually measures the temperature of the dough. Wow, that’s some dedication.

With 30 minutes to go, buns go in the oven. Martha does her egg wash. Richard is doing one too, but with just egg whites. Everyone obsessively stares at their breads through the oven door.

Chetna takes her buns out, but they’re not baked all the way through.

Others take their buns out. It must smell amazing in the tent just now. Last-minute tweaks and glazes are made. Chetna’s still waiting to take hers out, with just a minute left to go. She gets them in the basket at the last minute.

Time is called.

Nancy’s rolls look beautiful but are slightly underbaked. The flavour’s great though. Chetna’s onion and pine nut rolls are too flat, either because she didn’t develop the gluten enough or because she didn’t shape them well enough. Good flavour though. Iain’s cranberry and walnut rolls have good texture and are well baked. Martha’s rolls are yummy, but apparently the glaze tricked her into thinking the rolls were done before they actually were. I didn’t realize glaze was so jerky. Norman’s straightforward rye rolls are too simple for Mary’s taste. Diana’s cheesy rolls aren’t appealing looking to Mary but have a good flavour and bake. Richard’s rye and cranberry rolls are sloppily glazed and slightly underbaked. Jordan’s rye and spelt rolls have a great crust and good flavour but could have done with a little more liquid in the mix. Kate’s orange and cardamom knots look beautiful and have a great bake and flavour. Luis’s two-tone rolls are amazing looking, well baked, and delicious. Paul shakes his hand and declares it a job well done. I want to make those now.

Time for our history lesson. In the 17th century, special occasions were marked by spiced breads known as wigs. They usually contained mace, nutmeg, and caraway. Sue gets a lesson in how wigs were made and VOs that Samuel Pepys was quite partial to them. The wig is baked and declared delicious.

Technical challenge. It’s a Paul recipe, of course. Mel asks if he has any advice. ‘Be patient.’ Ok, then. The Bakewells have to make four ciabatta. Yeah, they’re kind of a pain in the ass, because you have to handle the dough really carefully to avoid deflating it and knocking out all those big bubbles the bread is known for. In the judges’ tent, Paul says this bread is all about the timing: bake it too early and you get tiny air holes, too late and it comes out flat (because it collapses onto itself).

The dough is more like a batter, which is bewildering a few of the Bakewells. They mix it up and leave it for its first rise. Some of them put the dough in the proving drawer, instead of leaving it out at room temperature despite the fact that the instructions specifically say leave it at room temp. Heavens, people, you get so few instructions, why wouldn’t you obey the ones you have? The VO informs us that the proving drawer will over activate the dough and it won’t hold its shape. While the dough proves, the Bakewells stress. Also, it rains. A lot. They all eye each other, wondering who’s going to act on their dough first. It’s Jordan. The doughs are tipped out onto either floured or oiled surfaces (oiled, I think, is correct). It’s still plenty gooey. With some effort, they cut it up into quarters and place it on baking trays to prove again. Mel tells everyone, in Italian, they have 30 minutes. She’s pretty good, but I’ll bet that was super unhelpful for a lot of the Bakewells.

Loaves are baked. With five minutes to go, they’re pulled out. It’s a pretty mixed bag. Some of them are flat as pancakes, which is not good. They’re set out for presentation and Paul and Mary return. Chetna’s looks more like a pita. Martha’s looks more ciabatta-like. Iain’s is overproved but tastes good. Nancy’s has been shaped too much, the holes are tiny. Norman needed a longer prove but the crust is good. Richard’s is unevenly shaped and flat. Kate’s are good. Jordan’s has been oiled, which apparently is bad, so I was wrong there. Diane’s was over handled. Luis’s is great, except the shape needed to be longer. Ranking, from bottom to top: Jordan, Iain, Chetna, Diana, Richard, Nancy, Norman, Martha, Luis, Kate. Norman is pleased he’s moved up the rankings, Kate is happy, Jordan’s cheerful despite the setback.

The next day, we catch up with the judges. Kate and Luis are in the top, whereas the rest are pretty much bunched together.

Time for the showstopper: A filled bread centerpiece. And they’re off!

Paul says that veggies or fruit that release moisture could be problems. Mary says they’ll be looking at appearance first, but it’s important that the dough be cooked through. I’d say so.

Kate reports she’s doing a coriander, olive, and prosciutto bread. Paul says that reminds him of his days in Greece.

Luis is adding saffron to his bread, which is a traditional Spanish loaf made around epiphany. It’ll be in a crown shape, with olives and manchego, Yes, please.

Jordan’s making a strawberry and raspberry cheesecake brioche. Oh my god, YES! He’s the only one doing a sweet bread. Ballsy, those usually need an overnight resting.

Diana’s doing a sort of pinwheel with parmesan, spinach, and ham, with a pot of chili jam in the middle.

Norman is stuffing his with chicken, pesto, and sundried tomatoes.

Richard is filling his pesto pinwheel with feta and walnuts. Mmmm.

Martha is going a bit gutsy and putting a cheese in the middle of her loaf that’s so smelly it’s been banned on public transport in France. Do you know how offensive a cheese has to be for the French to say it’s too much? Damn. The bread is going to be in a sunflower shape, with the cheese in the middle and petals designed for dipping. Sounds pretty good.

Iain is inspired by Morocco with a loaf designed to go around a tagine.

Chetna is stuffing her dough with mango chutney. Paul warns her about getting a gap between the bread and the filling, a problem that seems to be news to her.

Nancy’s making a ‘full English’ Stromboli. Heh. Paul again warns about the gaps.

Risen doughs are taken out and shaping begins. Luis’s has a really beautiful colour from that saffron. Martha carefully wraps up the cheese. Richard is very carefully twisting his bread and comments that Jordan’s doing a twisty bread as well, but since his is sweet and Richard’s is savoury, Richard’s can be dinner and Jordan’s can be pudding. Nice way to look at it. Jordan’s looks a bit messy because of his very wet filling. He reassures us it looks better after it’s baked. Norman says he’s going for the posh rustic look, adding that it should look homemade, if it’s homemade. Yeah, but this isn’t really homemade just now, is it? It’s a competition. Martha seems to have lost track of what her petals’ flavours are.

Shaped breads are put back in the proving drawers. Jordan glazes some strawberries for decorations, because he always struggles with making his things look pretty.

Shaped breads come out. Nancy says that Luis’s smells amazing. I’ll bet it does. They decorate their loaves and pop them into the ovens. Mel takes up a position outside Iain’s oven and comments that she never thought a browning plait would be so fascinating. Sue tries to get Norman to trash talk Paul, but Norman isn’t having it.

The loaves come out; some get last-minute glazes. Nancy’s relieved the filling hasn’t erupted. Jordan’s actually does look all right. Luis decorates his with gold leaf. He’s not messing around.

All right, time for the judging.

Richard’s pesto pinwheel is very neat looking and well baked. Paul compliments the flavour and texture and Mary likes that he made his own pesto. Of course she does.

Martha’s stinky cheese sunflower has fig chutney and apricot chutney petals. Paul likes the idea but it needed a little longer in the oven.

Norman’s chicken and veg picnic pie is not showstopper-y enough for Mary. The bottom didn’t bake properly either.

Chetna’s loaf looks boring and messy on top, and her dough hasn’t been mixed enough, but the flavours are good.

Iain’s Moroccan plait with dip is crispy and the crumb texture is good, the taste is great. Success!

Jordan’s cheesecake brioche hasn’t worked too well. Too much liquid, leaving raw dough.

Nancy’s Full English Stromboli is crap for presentation, has big gaps, but a yummy filling.

Diana’s pinwheel is bold and lovely, but has a soggy bottom.

The prosiutto, olive, and coriander bread Kate made is nice and colourful. Mary thinks the twist presentation is clever. There is no gap, but the inside is still raw. She’s mortified.

Luis’s loaf looks amazing. Little bit of a gap, but not too bad. Paul’s not crazy about the flavours but Mary loves them.

Post-mortem. Lots of soggy bottoms. Kate and Luis are high. Jordan is in trouble, as is Norman, for playing it too safe.

The verdict: star baker is Luis. Yeah, that was deserved. Jordan is going home. Aww, too bad. He keeps his chin up, though, and Mary’s sad he’s going, because he was flamboyant and creative. It’s not enough, though. You have to be able to deliver a good bake as well. Pastry next week!

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