THE BLOG

Great British Bake Off 2014 Episode Blog - Week 8

26/09/2014 14:15 BST | Updated 24/11/2014 10:59 GMT

Making a sweet fruit loaf may not initially seem like the hardest task in the world, but we're at the quarter-final stage of this year's Great British Bake Off, and things aren't as simple as they first seem. So, not only do our five bakers have to make their loaves with enriched dough - notoriously tricky to work with - but also have only two and a half hours in which to complete the task.

Nancy's decision to aid the proving of her dough by using a microwave provokes silent, impotent fury within Paul. If you look at his piercing blue eyes, I swear you can see laser beams come from them. He keeps it together for the camera though, and instead just grumbles something about the protein structure breaking down. When he's later proved (ha!) right, you sense it's the happiest he's been in months. Even happier than when he spends the last five minutes of the task walking round poking all the contestants' bread, like some kind of mad dough pervert.

This week's technical challenge is a povitica: an Eastern European loaf with swirls of nutty paste inside. Ordinarily, it's likely that no-one would have heard of such a concoction but, as luck would have it, Chetna had decided to make one as part of the signature challenge, and is visibly delighted at the judges' choice of bake. It's good news for everyone else too, as any spying they did on Chetna earlier now counts in their favour.

What Chetna knows that the others missed, however, is just how long a povitica takes to cook. All the layers need time to adequately dry out so, despite its size, it actually needs an hour in the oven. Accordingly, Chetna's bread is the first in the oven by some margin and, come the tablecloth interrogation at the challenge's end, it's her who takes first place. None of the other four have made a particularly stellar povitica, but Martha finished bottom of the pile; her loaf so under-baked it's literally just inedible dough in the middle.

Perhaps still annoyed at Nancy's use of the microwave the day before, Paul opens the technical challenge - two lots of eighteen doughnuts - by pointedly claiming to have made somewhere in the region of 30-40,000 of the damn things. One of the batches Nancy is making is actually decorated so the doughnuts look like Paul Hollywood - grey spiky hair and those blue eyes fashioned in royal icing (alas, no laser beams).

Martha knows the pressure is on after losing the technical, and is distraught to find her doughnuts over-proved and looking as flat as pancakes. Chetna's presentation includes koeksisters - a South African plaited doughnut that Paul Hollywood has never eaten (you'd have thought someone who's made 40,000 doughnuts would have tried every possible type). Luis' doughnuts served in cocktail glasses seem designed entirely to pander to Mary Berry's love of boozy treats (good tactic) and Richard makes a fairground themed presentation - one lot of doughnuts toffee apple flavoured and the other rhubarb and custard, and heart-shaped.

Richard celebrates the end of the challenge by shoving an entire doughnut in his mouth in one go. A noble effort but be warned, kids, the closest I've ever come to death was when I tried to eat a doughnut whole and had a choking fit (true story: ask me later). In fact, I think it's incredibly irresponsible for the BBC to be promoting such dangerous behaviour. Excuse me while I fire off an email of complaint to my local MP. Stay safe out there, folks.

Innuendo of the week: "It's enormous. Certainly bigger than any one I've done before." Clearly, advanced dough week is a landmark in the life of Nancy.

Star baker: Despite his comestible-based recklessness, Richard's doughnuts are sufficiently superior to earn him the title of star baker for the second successive week, and the fourth time overall.

Going home: It's the end of the road for Martha. A fair decision given she nearly went last week too, and now she'll head back to school to finish her A Levels.

Next week: Pâtisserie can take years to master, so an entirely appropriate choice for the semi-final of an amateur baking competition.