The tent was looking decidedly empty this week with only 7 benches remaining. There was an air of stress as the contestants entered. Rightly so. Sweet dough week. One of the toughest doughs to make. All dependent on a good rise and with the rain outside the tent, it didn’t look hopeful.
The Signature Bake was a Sweet Tea Loaf which could be in a tin or free form but had to be completed in a couple of hours. Mary was looking for a loaf that would of course be full of flavour and Paul cautioned the bakers to use their time perfectly to get an even bake.
I love the creativity of all the bakers in this series. They are all coming up with some fabulous combos and dare I say, daring ingredients. Howard rocked the boat this week with his Hemp Loaf. Twitter was awash with comments and images of Mary have a sniff and a snuff. It really was rather funny but she showed no signs of amusement. She seemed rather fascinated in the ingredient itself. Good for Mary!
Tea was an inspiration for many. Christine with an Assam Tea flavouring which I loved and Chai spiced loaves were the preference for Frances and Kimberley. I preferred the way Frances added this as a ‘swirl in a teacup’ vs Kimberley’s ‘ripples of spices’ but was worried for both of them as the combination of cardamom and cinnamon is hard to get right.
Glenn chose to make Panetonne which seemed to get Paul all critical and questioning about time, and turning things over to cool and even distribution of fruit etc etc etc. which of course makes you want to root for Glenn to nail it! His teaching side came out this week with some kind of DIY cooling contraption using sticks and string. Brilliant. This is what we want to see teachers doing on bake off!
The Welsh contingent on social media was long Beca last night with her Grandmother’s recipe for Bara Brith - literally translated as ‘speck of bread’. The loaf came about when workers flocked to the industrial centres being set up in Wales to set up a new life in the purpose built houses. These towns would have communal ovens where women would prepare bread for the week and at the end of the week, with the dough that was left, fruit and tea would be added for a treat.
I think they should bring back communal ovens and put Beca in charge. I love her direct, forthright demeanour and I loved the look of her loaf. Sadly Paul did not and gave her a bit of an unfair telling off about not mixing properly.
The one I wanted to eat this week though was Ruby’s Citrus Loaf topped with marmalade and peel. I think we need smellovision invented soon as that workbench must have smelled amazing!
There was lots of prodding and poking from Paul - well more so than usual. Much undertaking across the board - Kimberley, Glenn and Ruby to a certain extent but poor Christine didn’t even manage to get her loaf tasted as it was so raw. France’s seemed to be the best of the bunch with her on,y critique being that it was too plain??! A first for Frances!