Bake Off 2020 – Bread Week: Hot Gluten Intolerant Brother

They warned you this would happen in junior school.

Well, it’s that time of the series: welcome to Paul Hollywood Being Even More Insufferable Week as he parades about as the self-dubbed Bread King and I’m very sorry to burst his bubble but the only bread man I bow to is Peeta Mellark – the world’s best doughy-soft cinnamon roll. And oh boy was he leaning into this schtick harder than ever with a lot of just leaning on countertops, staring people down and pulling faces like he’s a chaste Victorian widow having a conniption fit

Despite this Paul was only the second most annoying person as it turns out this show is now just a workshop for Matt Lucas to try out his accent work. We dread World Week more with every passing hour.

Soda Breads

The first challenge is to make a pair of soda breads – one savoury and one sweet – which means as everyone tries to differentiate themselves by not just opting for dried fruit and nuts we get some truly chaotic ideas that sound like nightmare foods children dream up – ginger beer bread anyone? Obviously with the addition of fillings, most of which are quite moist, Prue and Paul are very hopeful that the bakers have at least practised their bakes before the show, I wonder if Lottie bothered?

Can I join Lottie’s Feminist Commune of Beachgoing Lushes? I’ll even start drinking wine. She’s really playing with fire because she’s the only baker opting to use fresh blueberries for her Blueberry Pancakes and Bacon bread which runs a high risk of just turning an unsightly shade of blue as it cooks. I’m also just always sceptical of pancakes and bacon – I do not see the attraction or the compulsion to pair two God tier foods – and that ladies and gentleman and all those that lie betwixt and betwain is my Hot Take of the Week. It turns out Lottie’s bacon was entirely superfluous because all she did was sprinkle it on top in the shape of a cross like some sort of Godfearing porcine worshipper and it all fell off the moment you cut into it

She was also proving a bad influence in the tent as Hermine rolled up making a superb salmon and cheese bread (which to me sounds like an aromatic nightmare) that Paul Hollywood had never even dreamed of, netting her a handshake in the process, but also bringing long dried fruit that she had steeped in liquor for 2 weeks and spent the entire episode giggling to herself and getting drunk off the fumes alone and muttering that she has no idea about the science behind bread, she just knows he recipe told her to add the baking soda and we have no choice but to stan such wonderous chaos.

Hermine wasn’t the only one going boozy as Mark-with-a-K opted to honour his home nation with a Chocolate and Guinness bread – which went down just fine but after getting foggy headed after just a bite of Hermine’s a mere dash of stout doesn’t really cut the mustard. Dave also opted for a chocolate loaf and he was putting a spin on it but being quirky and making it into the shape of a chocolate bar, by which he means rectangular.

Francis Quinn he is not. Also, bless Dave as he becomes increasingly more unhinged with every episode as he recounts the hours he spent watching Paul Hollywood videos on YouTube to make sure they used the same technique – it’s very Single White Female. Terrified of what happens when he gets to Week 7 and hasn’t won Star Baker for the second time.

The go-to combination for most people was a savoury bread of some sort of European Sausage with olives and a cheese of choice and a sweet one consisting of some sort of combination of dried fruit and nuts – and maybe a bit of grated marzipan because Laura was feeling a little bit zany. (lowkey, grate marzipan on top of your mince pies before baking them – it’s a game changer). There were a few more unique flavours though – Sura delving into the Middle East again and baking a superb, if slightly anaemic, za’atar spiced bread and Rowan pushing out the boat by introducing polenta to the equation and more than that he is using 3 parts polenta to every 1 part of flour which even I, someone who doesn’t bake bread, took one look at his dough and knew was going to taste like you were licking the Gobi Desert

As the Signature Bake is want to do, it brought out the regional pride in a few people, Linda opting to make a Welsh inspired Bara Brith soda bread, the fruit in which somehow all managed to migrate to the outside in which they burnt and become tiny nuggets of pure coal – I mean Wales was famed for it’s coal mining industry – it was all part of the plan. Her savoury one was just chilli and cheese because apparently a rarebit loaf was too much to ask for but she was doing a very nice thing by using the honey that Mak left behind that he never got to use in a bake

thereby continuing the tradition of Linda making very sad mournful bakes. Marc-with-a-C was leaning heavily into the Cornish pride by only using Cornish products, NONE OF THAT KENTISH SHIT, and just continuing to be Paddington Bear

The fact he bakes while wearing a bucket hat <3. It’s by no means smooth sailing for him as he somehow manages to cover himself in buttermilk the moment the camera turn away like a child that you leave unsupervised for all of 3 seconds

Bless his cotton sock.

And then we have Peter who is making a ginger beer bread and I was going to say it was maybe the worst bread flavour I had ever had to imagine but then Dave shows up in the Showstopper Round with Guava and Hibiscus and puts Peter to shame. Peter does at least continue to show up with his Hot Gluten Intolerant Brother

He had better be a contestant next series. The VTs are a lot more repetitive this year – this is the third time we’ve had to watch Laura baking pizzas with her husband but I did find a lot of joy in watching Linda deep sea fishing and Mark-with-a-K spending some quality time with his pot plant that he is twinning with

An Arbitrary Soda Bread Ranking

  1. Hermine’s Booze ‘n’ Salmon Breads
  2. Mark’s Pride of Ireland
  3. Sura’s Legend of Za’atar
  4. Marc’s Cornish Supremacy
  5. Linda’s Welsh Diarama
  6. Lottie’s Wasted Bacon and Pancakes
  7. Dave’s Not-quite-a-Hollywood
  8. Laura’s Marzipan “madness”
  9. Peter’s Child-like Chaos
  10. Rowan Being Rowan.

GAYGELS.

For the technical challenge this week the bakers must make a batch of rainbow coloured bagels, with a perfect blend of 5 different colours, with a slightly crisp outside and a nice doughy centre and Paul Hollywood being an absolute coward declares that the rainbow represents the NHS.

EXCUSE ME, THE GAYS ARE RIGHT THERE! And now they have pitchforks. It is gay bread, you are making gay bread. This bagel is bisexual. They’re lesbians Harold. It is a non-binary bake, they are transgluten if you will.

The only baker with any bagel experience is Dave but he doesn’t want to shout about it unless he winds up messing it all up, which as it goes was a good tactic because reader, he messed it up. Everyone spends a lot of their time over-kneading or over-proving their doughs because nobody wanted to be the first person to drop their bagels into the boiling water because every fibre of your being tells you that putting raw dough into water is not the correct thing to do, so it’s a long game of chicken which Rowan spends juggling incredible badly

He’s really managing to get over that bad use of time issue he’s been having, huh?

Lottie, just before putting her bagels into the proving drawer, comes to the realsition that she did not twist (nor bop, flip or flick) the colours together, so while everyone else’s looks like artfully twisted rings, hers kind of just looked like a child’s playdough project

She at least manages to remedy the situation and clearly it didn’t affect it much because she’s finished in fifth with some very crispy bagels – which is a bit of an indictment on the general quality of the bagels in the tent. Something that Hermine notices, and still riding high on the buzz of her two week steeped booze-fruit has no filter and proceeds to trash talk everyone

Especially Peter who made bagels that could fit a basketball through them and came fourth

There were a lot less boiling disasters than I expected – the only one being Sura who had one single bagel come apart but fixed it very easily.

The Official Gaygel Ranking:

  1. Linda’s A+ Bagels
  2. Marc’s Shining Bagels
  3. Mark’s Somewhat Overboiled Bagels
  4. Peter’s Basketball Hoops
  5. Lottie’s Late Twists
  6. Laura’s Oddly Shaped Bagels
  7. Hermine’s Hangover Bagels
  8. Sura’s Surgically Altered Bagels
  9. Dave HAS NEVER MADE BAGELS BEORE, HONEST
  10. Rowan’s Rowan-y Bagels

If they hadn’t allowed Rowan to sail through on the back of several disaster so far I would have said that going into The Showstopper Round, the current deck was stacked heavily against Rowan but the decisions so far have been dubious so they could have thrown a curve ball and eliminated anyone.

Bread Plaques

It’s a close race between Bread Week and Biscuit Week to which gets weirder the longer the series goes on for and the less ordinary the challenges are allowed to be but I think Thanksgiving Bread Plaques might just clinch the crown? Basically the bakers have to make a mural out of bread depicting something they are grateful for – most of which turns out to be localised patriotism, your family or your house – which in this current economy seems like a bit of a flex – or if you’re Sura you’re just really jazzed about tomatoes

The tomato symbolises her love for her mother – it’s very sweet and apparently tasted delicious but despite the heavy praise heaped upon her, Sura still spends the entire judging internally waging the war to end all wars in order to control her fight or flight response

come week seven and she’s absolutely going to snap and either give Paul Hollywood a black eye or run screaming from the tent – I cannot wait for either turn of events. And had she not produced such middlingly fine bagels she would have been in contention for Star Baker quite easily.

Linda also opts for fun childhood memories of her time on the farm where she and her siblings collected eggs and sucked milk straight from the cow like a farmyard version of Remus and Romulus. She’s making a farmyard scene out of tiger bread to symbolise The Circle of Life (again, Linda’s obsession with death bakes is one of the most intriguing through lines on this show)

but she has made the decision to not give it the iconic appearance of tiger bread. So it’s not tiger bread at all? It’s just white bread?

Then we get into the plethora of County Pride Breads with Mark-with-a-K going back to Ireland to make his wild garlic and apple bread to symbolise the Orchard County or Ireland. What he actually makes looks like a still from an Ari Aster film

The bee is played by Florence Pugh. Despite the ungodly amounts of wild garlic he heaped into it, it lacked flavour and was a bit disappointing and made Paul offer up the most cursed critique in all of Bake Off

WHERE ARE THE 24,000 COMPLAINTS ABOUT THIS?

Rowan is honouring the unspellable county of Worcestershire with a giant dicking pear tree

He honestly does not care and spends most of the baking time just having a jolly good time with Noel because it would be hard not to know you weren’t going home at this point. Peter is making a cityscape of Edinburgh out of flat stretched out bagel dough which as someone who just watched Silence of the Lambs last week, long sheets of boiled dough look eerily like skin you’re about to make a skin suit out of

It’s an entirely unsuccessful bake not only because of it’s slightly too simplistic design (you can’t always take the Chris Hoy tactic mate) but mostly because the bread had the movement and texture of a dead fish.

And then we have our two Flexers, Lottie with her sweet little beach house scene

Which Paul and Prue believe is the most colourful and visually engaging bake – although the white bread base lacks a flavour, which obviously it does IT’S WHITE BREAD – it is a mere vehicle for superior flavours. And then we have Dave who plans on making this idyllic little scene

It’s cute, how is he achieving that pink colour I hear you ask? It’s guava and hibiscus AND WE MUST JAIL HIM FOR HIS CRIMES. It’s like he threw a dart at kombucha flavours and hoped for the best – it was also an entire waste of time because despite being praised for his unique flavours they could not taste the guava – which might have been a blessing in disguise for them. Paul wasn’t happy with the quality of the design, and thinks Dave should have made individual little bread bricks instead of the lattice work he did do, and I heartily disagree, I think the lattice work was a really clever way of achieving that brick texture

They also make fun of his little doughy family, they’re mostly hung up on the fact he has made himself look pregnant instead of his wife, which hey, if you’re not going to let us have The Gay Bagels, we can at least have a genderqueer pregnancy, so back off Paul.

Then we get into the miscellania of the round with Marc opting for a Not-a-Buddhist-Buddhism Bread which while visually stunning at first glance

Did lose a bit of definition around the edge and lacked flavour – which being white bread again just meant it needed more salt.

Hermine meanwhile, still very much fruit-drunk, guffaws to herself that she has decided to make a frame for her mural out of brioche dough – an enriched bread that usually requires a 24 hour proving time. She has 3 hours, and she’s having the best time because how can you worry while you’re working your way through three quarts of rum laced raisins? The judges claim her London to France Road Trip mural was a bit abstract but I disagree, the modelling of her dough roses was phenomenal and she didn’t get nearly enough praise for them

Albeit, the tractor was less successful

But I got the gist.

And lastly we have Laura, making a very poorly timed and rather retrospectively upsetting bread mural honouring the joy that going to live theatre gives you

*stares in 2020*

I hadn’t had it on the cards that Laura was a Theatre Kid – mostly because her VTs have just been about her and her husband eating pizzas – but she has been over 70 times (get that money honey) which seems like something that you would mention? And she’s a Les Mis Theatre Kid which makes her only the third worst kind of Theatre Kid behind Phantom Theatre Kids and Hamilton Theatre Kids and puts her only slightly ahead of Wicked Theatre Kids.

Her design goes down well but alas, the focaccia that she used as a base is too flat and squashed beneath the sheer amount of guff going on on top of it giving it no opportunity to rise – and it genuinely began to look like they might just axe Laura and spare Rowan another week.

An Arbitrary Bread Mural Ranking

  1. Sura’s Ode to Tomato Plants Eveywhere
  2. Marc’s Part Time Buddhist Bake
  3. Lottie’s Beachside Drinking Venue
  4. Hermine’s Road to France
  5. Mark’s Ari Aster Concept Art
  6. Laura’s Foreclosed Theatre
  7. Linda This Isn’t Tiger Bread
  8. Rowan’s Phallic Pear Tree
  9. Dave’s Arrestable Offense
  10. Peter’s Human Skin Cityscape

While deliberating for the winner and the loser of the episode, Paul laments the fact that the quality of the bread this week just wasn’t up to standard – mate then maybe don’t make them make bread plaques and sweet soda breads that are just asking to taste like nonsense?

The judges eventually come to decision, and I thought given Paul’s outburst we might have this week declared null and void but no, Marc-with-a-C is declared Star Baker and because he is a single parent, his daughters are in the Isolation Bubble with him:

TEARS ALL ROUND.

And then they reveal that even they couldn’t come up with a reason to spare Rowan and our flute playing, bourgeoisie apologist maverick is indeed eliminated, I wonder how Linda will honour his departure next week?

NEXT WEEK:

I’m looking forward to this remake of Jaws.

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