There’s nary a Breadman to be seen. But there is a Bread Baby.
You can twist it, you can knead it, and you most certainly can slap it – that’s right, it’s Bread Week on The Great British Baking Show. Who will prove they have the right stuff to rise to the occasion? Who will fall flat? And Paul Hollywood is the king of all things bread, will anyone get a Hollywood Handshake?
This week’s Signature: Foccacia
The Signature this week is the classic Italian bread: the focaccia. The judges are looking for bread with a crispy crust, irregular crumb structure, and a soft inside. All eyes are on Giuseppe, the Italian baker in the tent. He comes across as humble, but y’all, Giuseppe is ready. He’s making focaccia inspired by his hometown of Gaeta. Not inspired by tradition is the milk he’s adding to his recipe. Now focaccia is a wet dough, but adding milk puts a hint of skepticism in Paul’s eyes.
Most of the bakers opt for traditional Italian flavors of olives, basil, and garlic. Jürgen, returning Star Baker, puts a German twist and makes a “kipper-caccia,” a bread topped with kippers and onions. Also throwing a twist in the focaccia game is Freya, who makes a fajita topped focaccia. When I think fajita, I think sizzling meats and peppers, not Italian bread, but we’ll see how it turns out. Other no-so skeptical twists are Crystelle’s grape and feta loaf, and Lizzie’s truffle bread.
The bakers overall have successful Signatures, but in the end, it’s Giuseppe with the best of the lot. His loaf was proved to perfection, creating a nice, soft interior complete with an irregular crumb structure (aka random air pockets) with a crusty exterior. And here folks is where we get our first Hollywood handshake, with Paul congratulating Giuseppe on his focaccia. Paul’s so impressed by Giuseppe’s bread that he asks for the recipe. Clearly, the addition of milk to the dough worked, and focaccia purists will surely be questioning their methods after this episode. While Giuseppe came out in the lead, those ending up on the bottom is Rochica, with her overpowering-garlic flavors, and Jürgen’s overbaked and oddly flavored bread.
This week’s Technical: Ciabatta breadsticks
This week’s technical is set by Paul Hollywood aka Mr. Bread, and it’s another Italian bake: 15 olive and cheese ciabatta breadsticks. At least Paul doesn’t sugarcoat it, giving the bakers the advice that it’s a “fairly complicated” bake. Most of the bakers are inexperienced in baking ciabatta, but in the words of Maggie, “I think I can blag my way through it.” Blag it they do, if by blagging you mean mixing, proving, and slapping their dough. Giuseppe may have never baked ciabatta, but he knows how to schiaffeggiare (Italian for “slap”) his ciabatta dough, even throwing a twist and actually twisting his dough to form the breadsticks.
While some bakers are confident, others are losing their steam, like Crystelle who thinks breadsticks are worthless and “a waste of time” (someone get this girl to an Olive Garden stat!) and Lizzie who proclaims she’s “so over Bread week.” Nevertheless, they all persist, baking at random times, wondering when to take their breadsticks out of the oven.
It’s time for judging and the results are that most of the breadsticks are underbaked. Paul sticks to tried and true methods of taste-testing the breadsticks; Prue decides to test by trying to kiss one at the end of the judging. Prue is becoming the aloof older aunt of the show, and I am loving it. That being said, can someone check on her? Maybe make sure she has enough water?
The rankings of the Technical are as followed: Rochica (10), Crystelle (9), Maggie (8), George (7), Chigs (6), Jürgen (5), Freya (4), Amanda (3), Lizzie (2), and Giuseppe (1). Bravo for Giuseppe, even impressing Paul with the twist in his sticks. Poor Rochica seems in danger of leaving, and will likely have to pull out all the stops in her showstopper if she wants to stay in the competition. And Jürgen can’t win them all, but sadly too needs to step up his game in the next challenge.
This week’s showstopper: Milk bread
The Showstopper challenge of Bread Week is for the bakers to create a themed display using milk bread. What is milk bread? It’s Jürgen quick for the explanation: it’s bread where milk replaces the water in the recipe. Not gonna lie, my mind immediately went to milk steak from It’s Always Sunny. Glad to know it’s actual bread! Perhaps Giuseppe who used milk in his signature will have a leg up in the challenge? Or will expert Jürgen?
Of course, the Showstopper requires technique, but the real joy is seeing the themes. Amanda, Maggie, and Freya go for a beach theme. When Amanda asks Maggie if she had to Google how many legs an octopus has, I had immediate doubts about Amanda’s skill as a detective, because octo is Latin for eight, thus deducing the number of legs in its name. George goes for a cuddly Koala loaf. Chigs makes a bread picnic basket. Rochica makes a birdcage in honor of her nan, who loves birds. Giuseppe goes for a fruit and veggie bread platter. Lizzie and Crystelle are going for roast dinner-inspired themes, with Lizzie’s “roast pig” and Crystelle’s “chicken” loaves.
But y’all, the bread theme to end all bread themes is Jürgen’s Bread Baby. He said when he received the brief for the challenge, he and his wife immediately thought of a baby because “babies drink milk.” Prue and Paul seem a little shocked that they’ll have to cut into a baby-shaped loaf. Jurgen assures them he’ll make baby toys, so at least they won’t have to go full cannibal on the Bread Baby.
Overall, the bakers seem to have few issues putting together their bready creations. Those on the bottom are Rochica, as her birdcage was over-proofed, and Maggie, whose bread was under-proofed and had no distinct flavor. Giuseppe remained close to the top, with his impressive fruit and veggie tray. Those also close to the top were Amanda, with her clever octopus, and Freya’s seascape was amusing and nicely baked. Alas, Jürgen’s baby looked effective, but it was under-proofed.
It’s final judgment time, and the Star Baker of Week three is Giuseppe. He knocked it out of the park with his Italian flare, and I think he’s a serious contender moving forward in the series. Sadly, the baker to leave this week is Rochica. She’s unfortunately been at the bottom of the challenges this week. She says in her confessional that she enjoyed her time, and will keep baking after the show.
Predictions and other thoughts:
- I wasn’t surprised to see Rochica leaving, as she had some missteps this week. While I find Maggie endearing at times, I do feel like she got lucky this week, and will likely have to pull out some baking miracles to stay in the competition.
- Lovely to see Giuseppe win Star Baker. And to have him receive the first Hollywood handshake of the season?! Che bello! I think fast at his heels are Freya, who seems to be consistently towards the top, and Lizzie, who did quite well this week too.
- Jurgen may have had an off week this week, but I think he’ll be a long contender, and will likely rebound from this off week.
- Noel’s red and white striped sweater reminded me of Where’s Waldo? Or, if you’re in the UK, Where’s Wally?