Griotte cherry clafoutis

Great British Bake Off, 2014 - Advanced dough week

by Urvashi Roe 25 September 2014

For the quarter finals of Great British Bake Off we returned to dough. The remaining bakers tackled sweet fruit loaves, an Eastern European cross between bread and pastry and dazzling doughnuts as the show stopper.

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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. She is a freelance writer and stylist for various publications including Good Things Magazine, and The Foodie Bugle. She was also a former contestant on BBC2's Great British Bake Off. She shares vegetarian and allotment inspired recipes on her Botanical Kitchen and Gujarati Girl blogs.

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.

Nancy's Povitica
Nancy's Povitica
Spiced plum swirl
Martha opted for a Spiced Plum Swirl, Nancy a Lincolnshire Plum Plait and Richard a Swedish inspired Fruit Ring

I do love doughnut week even though there is no baking involved - on that point perhaps there can be a baked doughnut week next year? Seems to be a rising trend in the US?

Anyway the bakers had to make 2 different types of doughnut. 18 of each in just 4 hours. That's 180 altogether. Blimey. Just thinking about the decadence to be unleashed made me salivate.

Paul, aka the self professed Doughnut King, was looking for perfection having made over 30,000 doughnuts in his time.

Mary was looking for ambition. (Secretly I am sure she was hoping for a tipple or two also).

Let's start with my favourite combos. Luis chose a cocktail route with a 'Mudslide' and a 'Raspberry Mojito'. I'll have both on happy hour please. The mudslide was filled with coffee cream and had a shot of Baileys through a straw. Genius. He has Mary at the Baileys. Well done Luis! She got the tipple she wanted.

The other ones I really wanted to eat were Richard's Rhubarb and Custard Hearts. There was much scepticism about whether or not the heart shape would hold but they should know this man better by now. Precision is the name of the game with Richard and precision was what they got. 18 beautifully tasting heart shaped doughnuts and 18 perfect Toffee Apple Doughnuts. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.

Nancy chose Limoncello and Almonds for an adult version and Chocolate and Orange Ring Doughnuts that were supposed to look like Paul. She hung those ones up too before they were drawn and quartered by Paul himself. He got his own back critiquing her dough as being too dry and overdone. They were also irregular in colour. Hmmmm.

Chetna did not fare so well in this round. She made Koeksisters - South Agrican inspired plaited doughnuts fried in a pan vs a deep fat fryer. The result was dense and oily and sadly her chocolate mousse filled doughnuts didn't get much praise either. The mousse was more of a ganache.

And what of Martha. She opted for Lemon and Poppyseed Doughnuts and Chocolate and Passionfruit. Both sounded amazing but sadly it all fell apart at proving stage. She overproved the batch and her huge blobs of dough were left flat on frying. This really let her down because aside from this she had perfect flavours, perfect presentation and textures.

It's starting to look very bare on those stools in the tent. Just five left and one would go today. But first another first for Bake Off. A fourth Star Baker badge for Richard. He really had sailed this one but not through favouritism or fluke. His bakes had been spot on.

Sadly as the cameras panned between Nancy and Martha, we knew who it would be. Martha. Martha. Martha. So young and so accomplished already. We expect great things Miss Collison. Good luck!