THE BLOG

Great British Bake Off 2015 - Week Three

20/08/2015 08:03 BST | Updated 19/08/2016 10:59 BST

Bread week starts with plenty of shots of our intrepid tensome looking all kinds of worried, and it's no surprise. The prospect of a weekend of yeast-based fun means Paul Hollywood gets the opportunity do what he loves the most: prowl around Britain's most famous tent and judge amateurs while his smug-o-meter goes off the scale.

Hollywood's fantasy (seriously, this is probably how he'd like to spend his stag do) begins with a signature challenge of free-form quick breads. Quick breads rise thanks to a mixture of buttermilk and bicarbonate of soda or baking powder, and the ratio between the two is crucial. Of course this gives the silver fox the opportunity to ask questions of the bakers, await their responses, raise his eyebrows in a quizzical fashion, and wander off in a manner that he imagines to be enigmatic.

The contestants do their utmost to pack oodles of flavour in, from Tamal's fig, goats' cheese and walnut concoction to Ugne's chocolate and salted caramel artery-hardening caloriestravaganza. The majority have a strong round: contestant Paul's cranberry and orange soda bread gets a handshake from judge Paul (we're at Bromance Defcon 3 here, people, this is not a drill), Flora's mixture of different rye flours is highly commended, and Alvin's prosciutto, manchego and balsamic onion brainchild has Paul and Mez Bez practically salivating. Elsewhere, Dorret's soda bread has too tight a texture, and Sandy's dough was sadly too wet.

Amateur Paul opens the technical challenge - four crusty French baguettes - with an almost Gallic shrug: "How hard can it be?" Well, very hard, as it turns out. No-one seems to know the best location for proving their dough (worktop, proving draw and oven are all utilised) and one of the most crucial parts of the process, adding steam to the oven to achieve the required crusty outside, isn't even mentioned in the recipe. Only Sandy, Tamal and Ian possess the knowledge about the steam in the oven, and most of the other seven have something lacking in their final product. Despite none of them having unmitigated disasters, Hollywood is extra harsh, which puts an extra sparkle in his gluten-fixated eye. Paul is made to eat his words, as he comes bottom of the pile in the challenge (down to Bromance Defcon 5, sadly), just ahead of Nadiya and Mat. Top of the pops, however, is Ian, who was last to take his baguettes out of the oven, and appeared to have a zen-like calm throughout the round. In fact, Ian pretty much never gets flustered; he must be a baking cyborg sent from the future. A doughbot, if you will.

Because all of the above wasn't tricky enough, the showstopper challenge requires our bakers to create a three-dimensional bread structure, consisting of three different type of doughs, one of which must have a filling.

Alvin proclaims his showstopper to be a cornucopia and he's really not kidding. As Mel and Sue correctly point out, he has enough baked goods to open his own shop. For everyone else, this challenge has brought out everyone's punning skills (which is outrageous - that's my job): Tamal's making a breadcycle, Ian's gardening-inspired bake is named Flour Power, and Dorret has decided to recreate Tracey Emin's Turner-nominated unmade bed piece, naming it - you've guessed it - unmade bread.

Creative muscles are certainly being flexed here. Flora's herb bread couture piece includes a delicate corset which has apparently broken several times in practice. Mind you, at least she's actually made her showstopper before; Dorret admits that her unmade bread has only ever actually been baked "in theory". Mat's decided on a curry-themed Brighton Pavilion structure (which is being held together with "gravity") and Sandy's making a basket of bread... out of bread. There are flowers in the basket which are moulded by scrunching up tin foil which is in sharp contrast to Ian, who has followed last week's aluminium template by "getting out his angle grinder" (his words, not mine) to create yet another metalwork contraption.

When it comes to the end, Dorret's unmade bread is more like uncooked bread, as her marzipan and apricot filling means the heat can't penetrate and the middle is raw. Paul and Bez are similarly unimpressed with Mat's pavilion, which is underbaked. They're overwhelmed - in both a good and bad way - with Ugne's creation, which attempts to put all the flavours ever discovered by humans (plus extra truffle oil) into one dish.

The star of the show though is Paul's three-dough lion, which looks so realistic that you half-expect a baboon named Rafiki to show up and impart some wisdom amongst the twee bunting. Hollywood admits he'd never have attempted it himself, and is almost overcome by the craftsmanship involved. It's "exceptional", in the words of the judge, and almost out of nowhere, we've ascended to Bromance Defcon 2. Thinking about it, does Hollywood love the lion so much because, just like Paul, it actually looks a bit like him? Some questions are best left unanswered.

Innuendo of the week: "They look so tempting, I can hardly keep my hands off them. I told you I couldn't wait to get into it, and now I'm into it I want more" - Mary's reaction to Alvin's quick breads is practically post-watershed.

Special commendation award: Even though he's not star baker, Paul gets a special award from the judges in what is a GBBO first. Bromance Defcon 1 has been attained, I repeat, we're at Bromance Defcon 1.

Star baker: Metalwork is clearly the way to go, because ice-cool doughbot Ian picks up the award for the second consecutive week. Perhaps next week someone will turn up with a welder's mask.

Going home: Not even practising her showstopper was the final straw and, after struggling near the bottom of the pack for three weeks, Dorret is finally sent packing.

Next week: The nifty nontet tackle desserts