Bake Off 2021, Bread Week: Tentacles Were Rationed

The bloodshot eyes of Freya’s marzipan-filled starfish will haunt my dreams forever.

It’s Bread Week which does unfortunately mean Paul Hollywood is more insufferable than ever – how dare the bread be bready?

Right Back Focaccia

Kicking off Unofficially Italian Bread Week is a challenge to make a fully loaded focaccia bread which does mean this entire round very quickly turned into a competition to see who could use the fanciest olives and sun-dried tomatoes. Although Lizzie had them all beat, Koroneiki olives be damned, she had splashed out on truffle oil and black truffles to give her focaccia that extra little something-something and her biggest challenge was going to be keeping Chigs’s nose out of them

because of the luxury flavours she had rather held back on the presentation of her focaccia which by all means looks like one your could buy in a supermarket

and the success comes to the surprise of seemingly everyone, including Lizzie herself who apparently is as fond of bread as she is ostriches – whether or not there’s a harrowing tale of bready abduction isn’t clear.

I think we’re all mostly shocked that it wasn’t Crystelle who brought out the truffle oil because she is by all means The Waitrose of the series, which is saying something because Freya literally owns a horse. Instead her attempt to add some sophistication was to draw inspiration from one of the seven holidays I imagine she used to go on every year. Her holiday-focaccia flavours being feta, walnuts, fresh fennel and roasted grapes. So if you were wondering how you could make raisins worse, there’s your answer. As it turns out, grapes smoke rather aggressively when you roast them

I suppose someone had to test the tent’s ventilation.
In terms of her focaccia, it was a little on the thin side and the fact Paul had obviously picked all of the roasted grapes off his piece of focaccia suggests that it’s not about to catch on

but they do like the flavours that Paul does deign to eat.

There isn’t really much you could do in terms of presentation with a focaccia unless you embrace trypophobia like Amanda and Giuseppe

however, all was not lost in terms of Needless Quirkiness as Rochica made hers look like a lovely little garden that the show for whatever reason filmed terribly so this is the best screenshot I could get

a touch unfortunate that she burnt it ever so slightly and the pretty design didn’t quite prepare Paul and Prue for the seemingly 5 bulbs of garlic she had stuffed it with

and I would personally like to voice my support for there being no such thing as too much garlic – if I can’t smell it from a kilometre away, there’s not enough. But Paul is a much more delicate soul.

While Rochica’s was cute, we do of course have to deal with the trypophobic nightmares we mentioned earlier, Amanda’s being the significantly less successful of the two with its all too segregated ingredients

apparently they were looking to be able to have a taste of everything in the same mouthful, a requirement that went completely out of the window when it came to Giuseppe’s focaccia

by all means it’s a perfectly baked focaccia and an interesting take with its 50% milk 50% water liquid quantity, I just think it could maybe look a little more appetising, regardless of my aesthetic opinions, it earns Paul Hollywood the privilege of getting to shake hands with Giuseppe

Paul Hollywood and Giuseppe McBake-Off’s Great Italian Adventure, when?

Giuseppe wasn’t the only playing around with the liquid content of their focaccia as George decided he didn’t need to add all of the water and was met with this immovable stare from Paul

which was at least enough to frighten him into making two batches of dough, one with enough water and one with an incorrect lesser amount of water, which he does thankfully ditch when it came to serving it to the judges

he had at least got the desired scattershot approach to the toppings correct and Paul and Prue are mostly complimentary about his focaccia and that it would have been perfect if he hadn’t faffed around with making two doughs and had enough time to prove it all properly.

Coming in strong from 2 weeks of being Star Baker, Jurgen was apparently determined to have himself banished to the shadow realm for the rest of the series with a focaccia involving kippers, which to him are the pinnacle of British cuisine and rather depressingly he might be correct

there were also boiled eggs in there so I can only imagine what the tent smelled like between the kippers’n’eggs and Crystelle incinerating grapes.
It’s a bit of a flop from Jurgen, regardless of the flavours, the baking of the bread wasn’t up to the high standard they no doubt now expect from him.

Also stepping away from the epxected Mediterranean flavours was Freya who was making an Old El Paso Focaccia with a highly Caucasian blend of Mexican spices

naturally this all goes down extremely well with Paul and Prue, especially the delicate spicing – little did they know that after Freya’s they were about to feel the wrath of Rochica’s garlicky assault.

Once again, I think Chigs had potentially the tastiest sounding bake of the bunch with his Spanish take involving chorizo and Manchego cheese

in his own words, “What’s better than chorizo and cheese?” – if you know of anything by all means write in. And the judges are full of praise for the flavours too, however his focaccia was just ever so slightly overbaked.

Returning back to classic flavours was Maggie who was going the old olives and tomato route which unfortunately she hadn’t properly secured to her focaccia and so they all fell off when Paul Hollywood repeatedly beat the bread against the table, you know like a normal person does to their focaccia

it’s no real surprise given that Maggie’s denting of the focaccia was very much like your dad trying to type a text

but the texture of her bread is mostly good, it just lacked the crispy crust that the judges were expecting.

An Unofficial Focaccia Ranking

  1. The Giuseppe Handshake
  2. Lizzie’s Truffle Bribery
  3. Chigs’s Focaccia Espanola
  4. Freya’s Old el Paso Focaccia
  5. Crystelle’s Focaccia Sans Grapes
  6. George’s Beta Tested Focaccia
  7. Amanda’s Flavour Segregation
  8. Maggie’s Fall Hazard Focaccia
  9. Rochica’s Garlicky Assault Focaccia
  10. 1000 years of Jail for Jurgen

Breadstick It To The Man

Continuing Unofficial Italian Bread Week into the technical challenge is for the bakers to bake a batch of 15 Ciabatta Breadsticks and apparently breadsticks are a controversial food stuff with numerous bakers deeming them a waste of time and I feel personally attacked by this sudden revelation. WHO HAS BEEF WITH BREADSTICKS? Although after this near total disaster of a challenge, I can’t say I blame any of the bakers being unable to look at a breadstick ever again.

The biggest conundrum everyone faced were the timings, and apparently avoiding the instinct of chopping up the olives- the breadsticks were really more of a baton. A fair amount of bakers came undone when it came to the baking times. For a while it seemed that Crystelle would have the worst time of it with her decision to give them a long prove and a short bake – thinking she could bake her 15 breadsticks in a crowded oven in just 15 minutes – the result being a fairly uninform batch of flaccid breadsticks

she could at least potentially blame her bad decision on a head injury

I hope the tent has a good HR department.

It is saying something that Crystelle managed to place at least one rank higher than Rochica who had no choice but to stare into the void as Paul shuffled through her anaemic tower of increasingly raw breadsticks

it’s ok honey, you’re almost free of this horrible bread prison.

While Rochica continued her legacy of serving nothing but raw baked goods in technical challenges (you’ve gotta have a gimmick), Lizzie continued her blindsiding bread week success with a near perfect batch of breadsticks coming in an extremely respectable second place, much to her own surprise

apparently the success to bread is to treat it with utter disdain.
Of course storming the challenge was Giuseppe who was the only person to have a uniform set of breadsticks and positively thrilled Paul by making the decision to add a delicate twist in the middle of them

But God bless the fact Paul and Prue spent so long prior to the challenge bigging up how Giuseppe must be intimately familiar with ciabatta because he’s Italian and then it smash-cutting to him saying that he has never made it before because apparently his grandmother is a heathen who bought all her bread. We are but an episode away from Paul Hollywood asking Giuseppe if he knows Mario and Luigi.

An Official Ciabatta Breadstick Ranking

  1. Giuseppe’s Innate Italian Ancestry
  2. Lizzie’s Breadstick Feud Paid Off
  3. Amanda’s Well-shaped But Pale Breadsticks
  4. Freya’s Breadstick Faffery
  5. Jurgen Being Punished For The Kippers
  6. Chigs’s Airless Ciabatta Breadsticks
  7. George Made Good Tzatziki
  8. Maggie’s Excused Onions
  9. Crystelle by Virtue of Rochica Being a Disaster Queen
  10. Rochica Being a Disaster Queen

Got Milk Bread?

Alas, Unofficial Italian Bread Week comes crashing to a halt as despite my efforts to unearth proof that it does in fact originate from Lombardia, I came up short so Blackpool can still claim the Milk Roll for itself. FOR NOW.
The Showstopper Challenge was of course another bread sculpture, you know perfectly normal, but this time they were having to make it out of milk bread, which is just bread with milk in it. Milk Bread is naturally sweeter than your bog standard loaf and tends to be rounder and squishier which is why we did indeed end up with a Battle of the Octopi between Maggie and Amanda – Amanda seemingly out in front from the get-go considering Maggie was of the idea that Octopi only had 6 tentacles – it was the post-war years, tentacles were rationed!
It wasn’t only octopod numeracy that was coming crashing down around Maggie’s ears as she very coyly unveiled that she was going to be flavouring her bread with a daring new flavour that nobody probably would have tasted before…. SEAWEED! Maggie, sweet angel, Laverbread is right there and Wales would like a stern word with you.
In order to give her octopus some decoration, Maggie dotted it with royal icing, the effect being a rather alarming skin disease

also, that octopus’s poor tentacles are in dire need of an intense moisturizer.
Despite Maggie’s concern that the seaweed would be too salty and therefore forgoing any extra salt, the bread was deemed almost entirely flavourless with the seaweed being rather lost.
Amanda’s octopus on the other hand, while baring a rather tremendous haemorrhaging headwound, could sit proud smoking its screaming cigar in victory

I might even go as far as to say that this ranks pretty highly amongst the bread sculptures we’ve seen on the show, there’s some really great shaping in those tentacles, and sure the octopus’s head was slowly caving in, with Paul Hollywood only making it worse by digging his way through it all the while its tiny plastic eye made constant eye contact with you

The Great British Snuff Film Off never really caught on.
The judges aren’t quite so ebullient about it, while Amanda gets praise for her flavours and the tenderness of the loaf it seemingly doesn’t spark joy for Paul and Prue – I really liked it Amanda and my opinion clearly counts for everything.

Freya was also embracing marinelife, although was excusing herself from the octopod narrative and instead was bringing to life a series of sea creatures all of whom looked like they were about to commit awful crimes

that starfish is on every list going.
She had of course made them using soya milk and the judges respond very well to the flavour of them – especially her balancing of the sweetness levels.

While Freya and Amanda embraced a metric tonne of food colouring to bring their sea creatures to life, Crystelle was thinking smart and using bread, a food beige by design, to create the beigest thing you could possibly think of: A British roast dinner

it’s rather a feat, and kind of ingenious – I would like to know everything about those bread carrots that are stuffed with carrot cake thereby making them a Carrot Cake Sandwich – the kind of 1am drunk food of the Gods.
Her flavours are eulogised to high heaven and the only things that really gets any critiques are the fact her roast chicken is slightly too flat and the lemon craquelin on her bready roast potatoes is a touch anaemic

I think it just adds to the Britishness.

You would think that a slightly flattened bread chicken might be the most cursed thing to happen in a baking challenge and yet both Jurgen and Lizzie had Crystelle beat with Lizzie’s pig looking like a naked mole rat going through carcinization

one day we will indeed all be crabs.
And then Jurgen had decided that it would be a great idea to make a bread baby, which at first sounds like a really cute idea and then you realise you’re going to have to say “I’m about to bake the baby” on national television so it’s no wonder that this was the only image of the baking baby we were allowed to see

It does however get worse as one of its little currant eyes was consumed by the baby’s own face

it’s like a screamer video from the internet wild years, Bread Week was not the one for Jurgen despite his flavours getting praise and the display being a good concept

I did cackle at Paul Hollywood calling the baby “basic” because it just sounds like such a wonderfully catty remark – imagine telling a new mother her baby was basic?

Having addressed the baked baby in the room, I suppose we have to go back and talk about Lizzie’s pig, which was based on her own pet pig that died slipping on ice and you would think there was a good ice/pig/death pun in there somewhere and yet I am drawing BLANKS

It’s actually a very good bake really, and at least looks significantly less cursed once the pig has been browned and resembles the classic Tudor hog roast that Lizzie was aiming for. Quite why she flavoured it with mango tea is anyone’s guess and the judges very politely talk around the fact they hate every single mouthful more than the last but they weren’t going to deduct marks for that – Paul apparently only dings you if you dare to put gherkins in his food.

The most ambitious builds of the episode came from George and Rochica, who were the only ones to really fully embrace the 3D sculpture side of the challenge – I get that a tear and share turtle is technically 3D but it pales into comparison when George built a koala bear

and if you want to know what a flatpack koala looks like pre-assembly, look no further

I cannot wait to buy a Coovfuå from IKEA this Christmas.
Paul instantly noted that “milk bread is not made for this kind of sculpting.” which does slightly beg the question as to why the specified “3D sculpture” because that instantly leads me to believe they wanted something like George’s koala and not like Freya’s who were all just bread rolls shaped like sea monsters and stuffed with marzipan – not enough was said about that starfish essentially being a marzipan sandwich, I’m still emotionally processing it. But they do at least grant him the safety of noting that a koala suits being a little squished and squashy, and his cinnamon flavouring was very nice.

Also going down the proper sculpture route, much to her own detriment, was Rochica who was building a birdcage which I feel like we’ve seen on this show before and to similarly not great results

sure, it looks a little bit like a display case in a small village museum about buried object they’d found in a Roman settlement but the fact that birdcage is standing after Rochica gleefully noted “The cage is at least standing on its own” while clearly leaning against the mixing bowl is rather impressive

Paul was very hung up on the realism of the concept as the bird would never have laid eggs that size and if Rochica was a savvier ornithologist she’d have explained brood parasites to him in the same manner he explained how smaller things need less proving time than bigger things to her.
She is at least praised for how cinnamon-y and sweet it all was, if perhaps not entirely looking like she spent 4 hours making it.

Lastly we have Giuseppe and Chigs who had both had the idea to make a basket full of food and I would quite like to know how miffed Giuseppe was to find out that Chigs had gone so far as to make his basket

and which I might hazard a guess stayed standing mostly because of the intense death glare that Chigs gave it throughout the leadup to his judging

to reiterate, my love of Chigs is as unwavering as his intense stare.
His basket of goodies, which did include bread rolls made out of bread, are all praised for their well-provenness, giving the whole thing a nice rounded, soft feel. However, the orange blossom flavour is a little lacking and he could have taken a little leaf out of Giuseppe’s book and laden his with 5 oranges, the zest of an entire orchard and as much orange liquer as was humanely permitted to create his (non-bread) basket of bread fruits and vegetables

I do love that he flavoured it all with orange despite none of the fruit actually being oranges, but it was all fantastically well made and had he made his own basket, he could potentially received a second handshake and we’d have been able to declare this a national holiday. DAMMIT GIUSEPPE.

An Unofficial Milk Bread Display Ranking

  1. Giuseppe and His Non-bread Basket
  2. Amanda’s Battle Scarred Octopus
  3. Crystelle’s Ode to Beige
  4. Freya’s Sea Criminals
  5. George’s Flatpack Koala#
  6. Chigs Made a Basket
  7. Lizzie’s Mango Tea Flavoured Tudor Roast
  8. Jurgen. Baked. A. Baby.
  9. Maggie’s Rashy Octopus
  10. Rochica’s Barely a Birdcage

There was absolutely no suspense as to how the results of this episode were about to pan out with the obvious Star Baker of Unofficial Italian Bread Week being Giuseppe

Continental Father Domination continues, apace.
And on the other end of the spectrum after three dud rounds and finally feeling the consequences of serving up raw technical challenges was Rochica

She came, she kind of baked, she wore nice clothes, she left.

And so, 9 bakers continues on to Dessert Week

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2 thoughts on “Bake Off 2021, Bread Week: Tentacles Were Rationed

  1. Jill Sleight

    Between the focaccia toppings and the one dance on Strictly that had a honeycomb pattern graphic projected onto the floor it’s not been a great couple of weeks for me, trypophobia-wise

  2. Rachel

    I was surprised so many breads were basically regular bread 3-D and nothing special and the judges didn’t say anything. To me 3/4 missed the brief.

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