THE BLOG

Great British Bake Off 2014 Episode Blog - Week 3

21/08/2014 13:42 BST | Updated 20/10/2014 10:59 BST

Bread week in the Bake Off tent means an array of yawnsome "rise to the challenge" puns and half the episode spent fretting over proving draws. The third episode of season five begins with the signature challenge of a dozen identical rye rolls (not "wry rolls", as I originally thought). Many of the bakers decide to add treacle to their dough to enable their finished rolls to have a distinctive dark colour, but Paul Hollywood warns them it may mean they can't tell whether they're fully baked.

Come to think of it, Hollywood's in a pretty secretive mood all episode, as he's constantly questioning the contestants on their methods, making a disapproving face and then refusing to say any more for fear of giving them a helping hand. He's the equivalent of those irritating people who post vague Facebook statuses about being annoyed or upset that invite further inquisition then, when those questions inevitably arrive, they get brushed off.

Hollywood disapproves of AS Level student Martha putting an egg wash on top of her rolls but - surprise, surprise - won't say why. As it turns out, Martha's rolls are under-baked because, much like the deceptive treacle trick, the egg wash masks the true colour and makes knowing when to get them out of the over near-impossible. My hero Norman does something which, for the umpteenth time, is written off as "too simple", while graphic designer Luis cleverly combines two separate types of dough for an 'Opposites Attract' loaf which is, in the words of the judges, "alchemy".

Hollywood continues his misguided attempts at being enigmatic at the beginning of the technical challenge, whereupon his one piece of advice to the ten amateur bakers is, "be patient". They're to bake four ciabatta, and it quickly becomes apparent that this involves working with a very wet dough which, as you'd expect, is a real struggle to handle.

The recipe states the dough must be proved at room temperature, yet around half the bakers go with the warm proving draws instead. There follows a bizarre game of proving brinkmanship, where no baker wants to be the first to tip out their dough. "Martha looks ready," offers Sue Perkins, hopeful that the action might restart, "Chetna's flouring. CHETNA'S FLOURING!" Ponytailed Jordan is the first to break ranks, and his dough looks like an expanding, gelatinous blob from a B-movie horror on the Syfy channel. To be fair to Jordan though, so does everyone else's.

It's therefore no coincidence that Jordan and his ponytail come bottom of the judges' scores, just ahead of hipster Iain and fashion designer Chetna. Conversely, furniture restorer Kate, who was last to tip out her dough, wins the challenge, ahead of Luis and Martha.

When it comes to the showstopper - a filled loaf centrepiece - Martha comes up with the most indulgent, calorific, filthy piece of baking I think I've ever seen. She constructs a sunflower loaf (which, thanks to the fact it's studded with seeds, also looks slightly like a B-movie horror prop) which, in its middle, has a whole, molten époisse cheese. If I were to marry a bread, I think this would be it.

Jordan's the only person making a sweet bread, and he tries to convince us that what looks like a sloppy mess of dough and compote will actually bake into something yummy. Norman's now sending up the simplicity of his own baking ("For me this is very exotic. You know - pesto!"), but the rest are creating concoctions to send hunger pangs to the entire nation. The only bread that wins universal praise is Luis' traditional Spanish bread, which is made with saffron dough and is meticulously decorated. He's painted his olives with gold leaf - who even does that?! After the technical challenge, Mary and Paul claimed that eight of our intrepid ten were in danger, but what does that mean at the climax?

Innuendo of the week: "Actually, I quite like it broken through the sides." I'm not even sure what this quote from Diana might even mean, but it sounds eye-wateringly x-rated.

Star baker: No real surprises as Luis takes the title. Kate was in contention right until the end, but an under-baked showstopper let her down.

Going home: A bit of a surprise this week, as Jordan and his ponytail (which, let's face it, should have been in a hairnet... or on a barbershop floor) wave farewell to Britain's most famous tent.

Next week: Desserts week may not sound particularly exciting, but the preview shows something that looks like a landslide in a freezer, and Mary claiming the actions of one of the bakers are "sort of unacceptable". Could we be in line for the first controversy of the series? Sabotage? Subterfuge? Espionage? Find out next week.