Bake Off: the bite-back begins – what we learned from bread week


The burden of proof is the easy bit. First you knead to activate your gluten, until your dough resembles a window, or something, then add ingredients to make the thing worth being on TV, but not so much that it adds weight and stops it rising. Then you’ve got to proof for about five hours – time being a quantity the contestants famously have too much of – then knock it back, shape and proof it again, then bake it perfectly so Mary Berry won’t describe it as informal. You’ll never think of toast as an easy option ever again.

We had Polish babkas, couronnes, a yeasty ark housing a chicken giraffe. There were boules and dampfnudln (they had no idea either) and plaited spelt centrepieces. Selasi came up with a tear ‘n’ share vulgarity he probably ripped off Pizza Express and dressed it up with some cockamamie story about a night he spent in a Bedouin tent, stopping short of rubbing a magic lamp. Bread really is the universal food. And you get excited about pain au chocolat. Basic!

Val displays a confusing and erratic brilliance. She speaks like and resembles a character from The Magic Roundabout, but with the blithe confidence of Paul Newman in The Hustler. Her dough wasn’t the only thing being knocked back either. Downing tea at a point of high stress – while continuing to stir with the other hand – led some to wonder if the mug contained something stronger. Tl;dr – they reckon she’s drunker than Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. A scandalous claim, but it would explain her mystifying lurch from clump-handed incompetent to Michelin-level pastry chef, and back.

She doesn’t let up with the animal imagery. No swallows or butterflies this week – instead she stepped it up and made it weird, brandishing fertility dolls and tales of pony grooming. At one point she fixed her gaze on the middle distance while talking to herself. She’s a little bit Wicker Man, a little bit Waltons. If she makes the final, you can bet she will literally be serving four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie. Like mama’s mama used to make. Before she killed you.

There’s more sparring with the judges this season. Benjamina refused to call her couronne a babka – she’s prepared to die on that hill, Hollywood – while Selasi described his clearly burnt buns as caramelised, insisting I like it crispy. Val was queen of the sassy snapback this week though, telling Mel her Noah’s ark was down a dove because it flew away and that the dough was oversalted like the sea. Noah sailed on rainwater, Val. Didn’t she used to be a headteacher? To the naughty corner. And I’ll be having that tea back, thank you very much.

News Source TheGuardianNews

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