Things don’t quite pan out as you expect in episode 3 of Great British Baking Show, with soda bread and plaques galore.
Welcome to Bread Week! It’s often the week that separates the pros from the amateurs. Bread Week is known as judge Paul Hollywood’s favorite week, as he’s a world-renowned bread baker. The bakers feel the pressure with every knead, whack, and proof of the dough. Who will rise to Star Baker, and who will fall flat as a pita? Let’s dive in to find out!
The episode begins with a Soda Bread signature challenge. Each baker has to create 1 savory loaf, 1 sweet loaf, and their own butter from scratch. Soda bread gets its name from the use of bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda for us folks in the states) to achieve a quicker rise than yeast. Paul and Prue are looking for unique flavors, something beyond just a basic soda bread with cheese or raisins. In other words, this ain’t your gran’s soda bread!
The bakers get to work on their soda loaves. Mark brings a taste of his original homeland with an Irish Stout and Chocolate loaf. Peter impresses Paul with his Black Pudding savory loaf, but Noel speculates that Peter’s really the apprentice looking to kill master baker Paul (now that’s a baking show spin-off I’d watch!). Hermine has salmon and cheese, questioning if those two flavors go together. Linda, pulling at our heartstrings by featuring honey courtesy of Mak, the baker/beekeeper who departed last week. At the end of the challenge, Hermine gets the coveted Hollywood Handshake for her uniquely flavored savory loaf and her very boozy and fruity sweet loaf. Well deserved, Hermine!
Now they crack on to the technical challenge, set by the bread man himself, Paul Hollywood. The bakers have to create 6 Rainbow bagels. Sure it’s essentially a plain flavored bagel, but the technical challenge arises in that they have to create 5 different colors of dough, twist them, and get the proper proofing/boiling/baking structure. I also think the rainbow bagels are a tip of a hat to the American fans, as Paul notes they originated in the states. He also says to him they represent the NHS, the UK’s publicly funded healthcare system.
For the bakers, the bagels seemed to represent a myriad of challenges with the multiple doughs, layering, and boiling/baking instructions. They manage to avoid catastrophes because overall the bagels were not too bad. Rowan ends up in tenth place, and former star baker Dave ends up in ninth place. The top three in the technical were Mark (third place), Marc (second place), and Linda (first place). Perhaps she can feature the bagels in her mini garden pub!
On with the showstopper. The bakers have to create a Bread Plaque. The plaque has to celebrate something important with their lives. The showstoppers this season have been clever ways to get to learn about the contestants, telling their stories one bake at a time. However, Paul and Prue worry that transferring an elaborate storied design from paper to bread could be a tricky feat. Rowan, never known to back down from a challenge, attempts to bake the largest bread plaque, a pear tree. Marc goes for a spiritual plaque with Dharma themed loaf. Hermine attempts to take us on a journey to France, but Paul worries her brioche dough won’t be ready in four hours’ time.
The big drama in the tent occurs at Laura’s station. Laura’s inspiration is her love for West End musicals. This is where we learn more about Paul when he admits he’s never seen a West End show. Both Matt and Laura gasp! Matt vows to take Paul to a show once the theatres reopen. GBBS producers, I smell another spin-off in the works. Get a camera on Paul at Matt at the theatre!
Judgment time rolls around, and Paul does not hold back. Hermine’s brioche was “not brioche.” Peter’s Edinburgh plaque was dense and seedy. Laura’s West End dough hit some wrong notes with flat focaccia. Marc’s Buddhist plaque was full of flavor, just a slightly underproofed dough. Matt, noticing Paul and Prue just had a corner of the Sura’s tomato vine plaque, tells them they should try her tomato and feta “bread balls” on the vine, to which they do, and remark on the flavor. And Rowan does get his giant pear tree to the table (with the help of Noel), but the judges notice his bread is both underproofed and underflavored.
Adjourning to the gingham table, Paul and Prue discuss the bakers with Matt and Noel. The judges feel that Sura, Marc, and Hermine are in the mix for Star Baker. All of them had consistent bakes and brought out fun, unique flavors this week. The bottom three are Rowan, Peter, and David. They had underproofed bakes that lacked flavor. Playing devil’s advocate, Matt asks Paul “How much flavor does bread really need?” And Paul’s head almost explodes.
They head back out to the tent. Marc wins Star Baker, which is great to see. He’s been fairly consistent, and he started the episode saying he got into baking with bread, so good on him for giving it his all this episode. Alas, to no one’s surprise, Rowan is the departing baker this week. He seems a bit relieved to be leaving the show, for I think the multitasking with each challenge got him in the end. Now he can go off to Worcestershire and bake without the ticking of the clock.
- Peter and David, two previous Star Bakers, have fallen to the bottom of the bakers. I think Peter will rebound and end up in the semifinals (or he could always “kill” Paul as Noel joked during the signature). Dave is harder to read, and I think he could be the next baker leaving the tent.
- We have two Hollywood Handshakes – this episode with Hermine, and last week Lottie got a coveted shake. While Marc did great this week, I think Mark could be the next baker in-line for a Hollywood Handshake. He’s a whimsical baker and his soda bread also impressed Paul, so I could only imagine he’ll kick things into gear next week.
- Matt promised to take Paul to a West End musical. Please, if there’s a revival of Sweeney Todd in the future, someone hook this duo up with tickets! I think Paul would love it if only for the meat pies alone!
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