Bread Week – Bittersweet for me. I auditioned with a bread basket and got through to the final line up and then it was my downfall with an unfavourable focaccia. However I had a couple of weeks to prepare for the scrutiny of Mr H but these bakers are only in week two! That was a bit of mean scheduling!
The Signature Bake – Breadsticks
Breadsticks. Sounds easy doesn’t it? I actually forgot for a minute and thought they’d all got off a bit lightly. 36 ten inch long, crisp and snappy breadsticks of the yeasted variety in any flavour. Simples. But then I remembered the nerves. The panic. The stress. The ‘oh-my-god-I-can’t-bake-why-am-I-here?’ sweats and it all came flooding back. And this year they had the added worry of messing up the carpet! Anyone notice that? They have carpet in the marquee this year! How luxurious!
I loved some of the flavour combos this week and got incredibly nibblish as I watched with my glass of dry white wine. It was Rob’s Caraway, Poppy Seed and Olive Breadsticks using a rye flour that I wanted to fly out of the screen. But then again, having just come back from two weeks in Morocco I was also rooting for Howard and his Preserved Lemon and Ras Al Hanout. Must give that a go with my recent souk shopping spree yet to be unpacked.
There were some interesting rolling techniques shared and a lot of attention to detail on the sizes. I loved Deborah’s idea of using a pasta machine for an unparalleled evenness but equally fell for Lucy’s calm, laid back and traditional stretching method.
Perfection snapped into place for Ali, Rob, Ruby, Kimberley, Christine and Deborah with a few underbakes and overbakes and challenges for Howard and Becca. Poor Lucy bore the brunt of Paul’s criticism this week with her “plain and boring” (his words not mine) salted grissini.
There was a lovely novelty bake from Frances with a matchstick design theme which sadly did not live up to Paul and Mary’s flavour expectations despite the amazing presentation. All in all a nice warm up for day one in the tent.
An Historic Technical Challenge – English Muffins
What a brilliant technical challenge this week with the contestants being asked to make a batch of traditional English Muffins. These became popular during the industrial revolution and were a sell out street food of the time developed to use up leftover dough and yeast and cooked on a hot griddle to spare the expense of ovens. Merchants like the infamous John of Cheltenham would drum up business by using a bell to cut above the din on the streets. But sadly the introduction of the police force in 1829 meant that bell was banned and this popular figure faded out of English culture.
The muffin men would have had their own recipe variations but the contestants had to contend with a Paul Hollywood recipe and he was on the lookout for the best - A beautiful brown top and bottom with white edges and a good crumb texture.