Before we begin today’s recap, I would like to share the fact that I began my morning with a Twitter exchange with Selasi from Bake Off 2016 (aka the best contestant to ever grace the tent). We swapped lyrics to ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ and my heart was happy.
….gently down the stream
— Selasi Gbormittah (@selasigb) September 13, 2017
But back to Bake Off 2017 and it’s bread week, with the legacy of Paul and his mighty bread lion looming large over the tent. Will we witness something as majestic and alarming this year?
— katy reid (@katyreidxo) September 12, 2017
We doubt it.
Signature – Fruit Teacakes
This week’s signature feels a little more like a technical, with the bakers asked to produce fruit teacakes. Noel informs us that Tom, poor thing, has been denied fruit teacakes his entire life living beyond the wall, but it’s okay because he’s had good access to lochs for swimming… that’s the same, right?
Bread week of course means the return of the proving drawer, and lots of waiting around for your buns to rise. Steven has taken a risk and is proving his dough in the oven (more shelvage). Almost immediately it doesn’t pay off, as his loaves have sunk… did he peak too soon with his two-week run of Star Baker? Meanwhile, Stacey is brushing her teacakes with milk–a decision that earns her the patented Hollywood Stare of Disapproval.
Everyone burns their fingers on their hot buns (oo-er) as they pull them out of the oven, in varying levels of uniformity. Liam flaps a tea towel on his face as Noel calls time.
Judging time, and Prue remarks of Tom’s teacakes “it’s clever how you’ve made it so that the fruit is really encased.” So encased, it turns out, that it’s hardly even there at all. Stacey’s choice of milk on her teacakes was a bad one, as they turn out looking rather dull, while Prue practically inhales Julia’s offering–you’re supposed to eat it Prue, not snort it. Paul gives Yan’s teacakes a good prod and declares them under-baked, while Steven’s sad flat teacakes are waved in his face. Shame! Shame!
Technical – Cottage Loaf
Noel declares that bread week isn’t about to get any easier, and Paul tells everyone he’s expecting perfection. So, no pressure. Noel gently ushers Prue and Paul off to go drag racing… setting Sandi up to make a pun I’m pretty sure I saw on Twitter a week before Bake Off started.
This week’s technical challenge is to make a cottage loaf, and it’s to be made traditionally–which means no new-fangled kitchen gadgets! Paul wants to see colour, even slashes and tight balls (heh), and requires the baker to drive two fingers through the centre of the dough to keep it together, which Paul happily demonstrates. Prue asks him if he flours his fingers before this act, and they both give up any semblance of pretending that they’re thinking exclusively of bread.
Everyone is quickly knackered from kneading and kneading and kneading their dough, not to mention the stretching and, again, the proving. Question: what do the bakers do during the 45 minute to an hour’s worth of proving time? Chat about bread based anxiety, by the looks of it.
Noel appears suspect about Stacey’s statement that she’s made a cottage loaf before, and to avoid further awkwardness moonwalks away. Pencils come out to figure out how much dough is needed for each section, and there appears to be some long division going on. Liam hopes to avoid wonky balls. Everyone starts fingering their dough. Noel breaks a decorative teacup whilst faffing about at the side. In the distance, sirens.
— British Bake Off (@BritishBakeOff) September 12, 2017
Yan muses that her unbaked cottage loaf looks like little bread BB8s, whilst Colin mournfully shows us what he describes as his “cow pat”. Noel tells Colin that “everything will be fine”, and gives the camera classic Office-eyes that tell us otherwise. Into the ovens the loaves go, and it’s Breadwatch time as the contestants squat worriedly in front of their bakes. Stacey informs us that this challenge is all about just not being the worst, while Kate proclaims that the top of her loaf has “died, it’s just died”. As the bread starts to come out of the oven, everyone is tapping to make sure there’s no soggy bottom. All pray for a miracle and gesture wildly at their breads, hoping for a last minute rise.
Cottage loaves to the gingham, and Julia’s loaf has a “nice rounded bottom” but is slightly under baked. Flo’s is looking a bit flat and too soft, which Paul demonstrates for us by fondling the bread. Poor Kate’s loaf needed “the finger treatment” (calm down Paul) and Colin has succeeded in making what resembles a giant wet cob. In the end it’s fingerless Kate in last, with Julia in second and Stacey victorious.
Showstopper – Coloured Bread Sculpture
In the pre-showstopper segment the judges discuss who’s in trouble. Steven has a lot to make up for and that Flo is in trouble (if you send Flo home I WILL RIOT), with Stacey going into the final challenge in a strong position. When the showstopper is declared to be a coloured bread sculpture, we all think fondly once more of Paul’s lion. I hope they have a ‘where are they now’ segment so we can see how he’s getting on…
For this challenge, bakers need to produce an impressive bread sculpture coloured with three naturally occurring colours (dashing Liam’s hopes of just whacking some food colouring in there). Flo is making a pirate ship coloured with squid ink, while Kate also opts for a squid ink to colour her octopus (it has been requested that I mention Kate’s dire need to tie her hair back better while baking… some viewers found it distressing to witness).
Liam admits he has never made a bread sculpture in his life… what have you been DOING, Liam? He’s making ice cream cones out of bread, to hit peak food confusion since Yan’s noodle cake in week one. Speaking of Yan, her bread creation will be a vegetarian dragon, which Noel predicts will only be beaten by a gluten-intolerant unicorn (stop giving them ideas, Noel).
Stacey, out in front, is making a bread hat, while Sophie thinks out of the box by making a bread basket… full of bread… out of bread (Breadception). Julia is going for four colours, because she’s an ambitious one our Julia. Though she admits she hasn’t practiced much–just six or seven times. The sketch of her mushroom and snail sculpture makes us all hope for an accidental bread penis. We are not disappointed, as very soon her bread is looking very phallic. Excellent. Tom’s red dough for his bread roses looks like he’s blending a brain, as Paul watches menacingly from the sidelines.
Yan worries that she’s “never made a bread dragon before.” What have you been doing Yan, slacking off with Liam?! Colin has made his bread owl a pair of tinfoil sunglasses, which sends my opinion of him through the roof. Liam is getting emotional over his floppy loaves, so Noel tells him he couldn’t even boil an egg at Liam’s age. Good old Noel. With ten minutes to go it’s assembly time, with bakers precariously balancing various segments of bread sculpture, securing them with hidden cocktail sticks and sighing.
First to be judged is Yan’s first attempt at a bread dragon, to which Prue says “it’s a pity it’s a baby dragon.” I’m sorry Prue, did you want a life-sized bread dragon filling the tent? Colin’s owl looks lovely but the flavours make the judges pull faces, and while Stacey’s hat is “elegantly done” it needed a longer prove, and like Colin her flavours are a bit off.
Steven’s handbag looks glorious, saving him from his otherwise underwhelming bread week. Paul is so impressed he gives Steven his job, proclaiming “THAT IS RIDICULOUS”. I think he’s forgotten all about his previous protégée’s lion. Flo presents her Tom Jones’ Locker, which was baked well, and Kate’s kraken looks fantastic… another save.
Julia brings up her snail under a mushroom sculpture, and Channel 4 take great delight in showing the very phallic snail from multiple angles. Sandi asks Paul, “is there something about the shape of the snail that you like?” to which he dissolves into laughter. It is judged to have good texture and flavour, but we don’t really care because she made a bread snail penis.
Paul declares that this has been the best bread week he’s ever seen, so he’s definitely forgotten Other Paul’s lion, and I am sad. Julia is crowned the much-deserved Star Baker, but the moment is lost as it is revealed Flo is going home. I scream at the telly as she cries in her post interview (I JUST CAN’T, YOU GUYS). That’s it. We revolt at dawn.