I don't think they've had an advanced dough week before. Enriched dough yes but what is advanced dough? I guess the producers really had to push these guys because they are all so so good.
The challenges started with a free form loaf using an enriched dough with any filling or flavour combination. Lovely challenge but a challenge in the time nonetheless. The addition of butter, eggs and sugar all retard the yeast and so it takes longer to rise. Would they have enough time? I think they were all really pushing it.
Flavour combos were as diverse as we have come to expect with this group.
Luis was aiming for a Black Forest Cherry Tree - a tear and share style bake with a cinnamon tree trunk and branches of cherry and chocolate dough folded around a sugar cube soaked with liqueur. I love all of the ideas this very clever man comes up with but this one I need to try.
Martha opted for a Spiced Plum Swirl, Nancy a Lincolnshire Plum Plait and Richard a Swedish inspired Fruit Ring.
Chetna had this week sought inspiration from Eastern Europe made with several rolls of swirled bread with a date and walnut filling. It was the plainest looking of the bunch before being cut into. There was no icing on the top, no fancy arrangements but as soon as Paul cut into it you could see Twitter alight with "Wow!" It was so pretty. Lovely swirls layered on top of each other.
There was much debate about proving this week as Nancy showed us a microwave shortcut which was very much to Paul's disliking. It "destroys the protein structure and destabilises the dough". Well she didn't do too badly considering he's doomed her from the start. Her loaf was underproved and slightly underdone but both judges loved her flavours.
To be honest comments on the rest were much the same. Scrummy. Scrummy. Scrummy.
An Eastern European Technical
It is lovely to see so many Eastern European breads see the spotlight with this series. Last night's technical challenge was a Povitica. Chetna's face was beaming. She had used the same bake as inspiration for her signature bake so while the others were still reading and digesting what needed to be done, Chetna was off making her dough knowing this bread needed a slow and long bake in the oven.
Now a Povitica is a cross between a bread and a pastry. Imagine a battenburg cake but with each square also having swirls in it.
The dough was not the challenge here really. Lit was more the filling and creating and baking.
All the bakers, including Chetna, did come unstuck at the filling. The walnut and date mixture needed to be pasted evenly on to the dough and spread thinly before swirling. Nancy went back to her trusty microwave and heated the paste so she could pipe it then spread it. Richard did the same. I would have done what Martha did which was to roll the paste out onto cling film then flip it on top of the dough. I would have used far less cling film though. Blimey! The runners must have cleared out the local shop's shelves!
It would be really good to hear from people used to making this bread as to how it should be done. Great technique to learn.
All bakers finally had their bakes in the oven with half an hour to go. Chetna's was however at this stage already half baked and she had already reached the level of brown she wanted.
Then there was the egg white debate. What was this for? Most used it as intended - a glaze. Nancy decided to make Royal Icing with it and forgo a glaze. This really let her down in the final display as her loaf looked dry compared to the others.
The theme of the comments at judging stage was "raw". All the bakers had raw sections except Chetna. Martha's was so raw that it was inedible. Oh dear.
It was Nancy vs Martha at this stage.