So, 350 years after London burned down when a fire began in a bakers, things heat up in the Bake Off tent.
The contestants have a (bakers) dozen problems, but a brioche ain’t one. It’s Bread Week, and as Paul sombrely tells us, the Star Baker of Bread Week has always gone on to the finals. Gauntlet suitably thrown down, it’s time for the GBBO to throw down their dough: there’s a knead for speed: this is episode where if you don’t bloom, you’re toast.
The first challenge is to make some chocolate bread, or at the very least, chocolate with some bread in it. Other than that, bakers are allowed to make their own choices. Candice – last week’s Star Baker – is making a brioche with salted caramel, a wallop of butter, and four eggs, which gives everyone pause (and possibly onset diabetes). ‘Good luck,’ Paul intones, and Candice tries to ignore him.
Whenever Paul says ‘Good luck’, it feels like you’ve just received a kiss in the Garden Of Gethsemane.
There’s a lot of discussion as to the correct name of Benjamina’s offering, leading Mary to admonish Paul: ‘Don’t be grumpy’. Everyone’s nervous around Paul this week, because – as is pointed out several times – he is ‘the bread man.’ Nobody quite dares say his name three times in front of a mirror, but anyway everyone’s too panicked already.
On the subject of names, Kate reveals that her bake is inspired by a family member called Nanny Cobbles. Yes, Nanny Cobbles. Apparently, Kate’s postcode is Balamory.
There’s no real footage of Selasi in this opening challenge. Presumably, judging by last week’s form, he got everything finished in the first six minutes, and then went outside to nurse ailing pheasants back to health while singing lullabies about how he’s got the whole world in his hands. Meanwhile, Katniss Everdeen (Candice) is now worth two points of your GBBO bingo: this week’s lipstick is an impressive deep red, and her innuendo this time round is to declare that ‘nobody likes a small, under filled ball’.
A nation turns to their partners, saying ‘I told you.’
Actually, this week, there’s not all that much smut in the yeast – not even from Mel and Sue. Perhaps everyone is far too panicked and breathless about how little they’ll rise before they fall. Finally, the prove is in the eating as they offer up their sacrifices to Paul and Mary. Before long, however, the bakers are flummoxed by a word they’ve never heard before. And it’s not an encouraging one from Paul.
This week’s Technical challenge is to make a Dampfnudel, which makes the bakers feel like damn fools. Mary explains that a dampfnudel is like an iced bun without the icing, which is a bit like telling a small child that they can have the stick bit of an ice lolly.
As the dampfnudles get steamed, Sue flushes over long division: ‘Eighty … something?’ she offers. That’s a Croydon high school education, right there. Kate delivers a damning verdict of her own efforts, making it sound darkly positive, a kind of Alan Bennett haiku: ‘These will always be the best dampfnudles I’ll ever make.’
Candice – like many of the bakers this week – doesn’t do dough well. Unlike many of the bakers, she receives instructive advice (as opposed to straight criticism) which does suggest that Paul and Mary are keen for her to stay awhile. Val somehow wins the Technical, presumably because hers is one of the bakes that cannot be easily returned to its original ingredients. (and has anyone checked that it’s just tea that’s in that mug she’s constantly swigging from?)
In the Star Baker challenge, Kate bakes a bready corn maiden, looking for all the world like the kind of thing that would give Edward Woodward wicker-based nightmares. Meanwhile, Tom is making Thor’s hammer. At least, that’s what he says it is. Maybe. Fair enough: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And Val turns Noah’s Ark into a Singles Bar.
Nobody seems keen to mention the elephant in the room, which is that there’s actually an elephant in the room, which truth be told, doesn’t look incredibly like an elephant. ‘One elephant?’ asks Mel, warningly. ‘They’ve argued,’ Val replies. Perhaps she’d have been better off with a tiger (loaf).
Elsewhere, still shaking from the traumas of undercooked bread, the bakers are attempting to be more careful: ‘I’ll be more conservative today’, which is exactly the kind of thing you expect to hear said in a marquee festooned with Union Jack bunting.
When it’s time to present, Val’s Ark is not met with rapture, and Andrew is about the only baker to really offer a centrepiece as part of his centrepiece. Benjamnia gets three words of awed admiration (actually, it’s the same word, said three times: ‘Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!’). She doesn’t make Star Baker this week, but it’s only a matter of time. Rav and Selasi both suffer this week, but are too talented to go anytime soon.
Kate gets a weird bit in the sound mix: alone amongst the bakers, she has total silence when she delivers her centrepiece (everyone else gets the traditional You Will Be Nervous NOW music). Perhaps the editors got over excited by her being a farmer’s wife, and are expecting her to be called up as a character witness in this week’s Archers trial. Either that, or they just realised that she’s basically baked the Blair Witch.
Well, we predicted that Tom and Michael would fall, and we’re exactly both half right and half wrong: Michael loses out, while Tom is Star Baker, proving himself worthy of lifting Thor’s hammer.
Next week, it’s pancakes, and if that doesn’t result in Mary Berry calling Gregg Wallace a tosser, someone in the GBBO edit suite isn’t doing their job properly.
Aired at 8pm on Wednesday 7 September 2016 on BBC One.
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