Great Britsh Bake Off 2013, Week 2 - Bread

Great Britsh Bake Off 2013, Week 2 - Bread

by Urvashi Roe 28 August 2013

Last night’s episode of Great British Bake Off saw the focus on bread, with dozens of bread sticks, mighty muffins and showstopper loaves. Urvashi Roe, food writer and contestant from 2011, gives us the lowdown on this week’s show.

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Urvashi finds food, baking, cooking and eating a therapeutic relief from every day work and family life.

Urvashi finds food, baking, cooking and eating a therapeutic relief from every day work and family life.

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.

There was a lovely novelty bake from Frances with a matchstick design theme
Peace loaf
Kimberley’s Peace Loaf had some interesting flavours too based on the Middle Eastern theme and she won the judges over as well as Mel and Sue

Now with these technical challenges, it really is best to get stuck in and figure it out for yourself. But of course that school exam mentality sets in where you start looking around at everyone else and try not to get told off for chatting. There were two key topics of conversation. The size and the griddle. The contestants had been given a few different sizes of cutters and the recipe had not included which was to be used. That would be too easy. A small fat muffin could result in a middle that was not baked and a wide cutter could mean a thin muffin that would be too dry. And then, even if the size was spot on, a griddle that was too hot would mean disaster.

Kimberley had the right idea by testing one of her spare pieces of dough to check and this paid off with her being awarded first place in the line-up. Poor Beca was the one reduced to tears this week feeling she’d let herself down and not shown her true talents.

A Showstopping Decorative Loaf

The final challenge this week was a decorative loaf. Again yeasted but any size, shape, form and flavour combination. Another brilliant challenge. A real opportunity to see the personalities of each baker shine through. It’s clear they are all bread buffs with different kneading techniques and gluten testing tips being shared so really this challenge was about the presentation. What shape would wow the judges?

Twitter seemed to favour Ruby’s Peacock Loaf which was indeed a brave and daring bake with interesting flavours behind the design. Ali’s Ying and Yang Loaf was a popular point of discussion too and for a chap who claimed not to know much about bread, he did pretty well in impressing the Master Baker this week.

I loved Rob’s brilliant toolkit to construct his wonderful octopus. What a bonkers and brilliant idea. I wanted him to pull through and thankfully he did.

And Mark. Brave Mark for attempting a plaited loaf for Paul and what a shame the ears of corn looked so much like little slugs. Lucy veered down the simplicity route again and opted for a cob shaped to look like a tomato. Would this be her downfall?

There were also some interesting flavours within the decorations. I’m intrigued by Howard’s Oregano and Orange combination that Paul and Mary both loved. I’ve used this in salads but what a great idea to use in bread. Another one to try from his repertoire.

Kimberley’s Peace Loaf had some interesting flavours too based on the Middle Eastern theme and she won the judges over as well as Mel and Sue (and I’m sure the cameramen and crew had more than their fair share!).

One Shining Star and One Goodbye…

The Star Baker accolade was a close call between Kimberley and Ruby this week. Both consistent performers but I thought Ali and Howard could potentially slip in there with their personalities shining through in the last challenge. Ruby was the victor and I imagine she gained kilos of confidence as she goes into week three a lot less tearful than last week.

Sadly, the format of the show has not changed and someone has to go. It was Lucy – a gardener from Grimbsy. This was pretty clear from the editing. She’d managed to underwhelm Paul with her breadsticks, mess up her muffins and produce a signature bake that didn’t have a wow factor for the judges. Such a shame. I loved her ethos for using local and seasonal ingredients and was looking forward to seeing some Indian flavours following her recent travels. Good luck Lucy!