The first contender for the Christmas No. 1 has emerged.
Wanna see 8 people turning making pizzas into a Herculean feat? It could only be Bread Week.
You Wanna Pizza Me?
We’re down two bakers this week as Abdul and Rebs were both feeling poorly – and honestly, I too would have pulled a sicky knowing that I was going to have to be working with industrial amounts of cream cheese and smoked fish.
For the bakers that hadn’t managed to successfully forge a doctor’s note, they had the task of making two sharing sized pizzas and you might think the biggest controversy in a challenge involving pizzas was pineapple as a topping, and yet I feel we need to talk about how how big “sharing sized” is because I would argue that the only thing that made these pizzas “sharing” was the fact there were two of them and even then I reckon I could dispute that. If it’s not over 12 inches, it’s not getting shared. Rise up pizza size queens.
Having turned the macarons challenge into a savoury challenge, I did have reasonably high hopes that Syabira would bring around another bout of chaos and decide to inflict a Yellow Starburst and Toffee Penny pizza upon Paul Hollywood, but alas her twist on the pizza was to once again use Malaysian flavours and make a Prawn Sambal Pizza, with the base being a beetroot dough. She did have to unfortunately abandon the beetroot dough as halfway through making it, it didn’t look so much like dough as it did she had stolen someone’s pancreas
Hun, you’re gonna have to wait until episode 6 for Cannibal Week.
Having to restart her dough did mean that she lost quite a bit of time, but she did have a dastardly plan to help her catch up and impeded the other bakers by flooding the tent with more smoke and steam than the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom on Halloween Week
at least she wasn’t going to have to worry about the quality of her fleckerls, her pizza however was not going to escape critique
I have to say, I LOVE the sound of a Sambal Pizza but the problem was always going to be the balancing the chilli base that she had done, which in the end the judges felt overwhelmed everything else, which is quite something considering she had also topped the pizza with Stinky Beans, thus meaning Paul Hollywood was going to have urine that smelled like a fox for the next few days, but at least you’ll know where he is.
It was Kevin who was instead embracing sweetness, forgoing a tomato base entirely in favour of Chilli Jam, pairing it with toppings of Halloumi, Rocket and Figs – which is a great combination of flavours and I’m pretty sure was a vegetarian starter on every gastro pub’s menu in 2015 so I can see why he thought it would work, the problem is when that’s scaled up to pizza size and it all becomes a little bit too sweet
but really, Kevin only made it so he could do the pun because he is after all only on Bake Off to try out his stand-up comedy material, the actual baking is entirely peripheral
and it looks like he’s about to go the full Arthur Fleck and become the Joker of the tent after Paul said his dough looked a bit dead and Kevin looked like he was about to make Paul a little bit dead
sleep with one eye open, Hollywood.
There were two pizzas featuring pineapple, James’s being the most traditional as he attempted to upscale the Hawaiian Pizza, mostly by treating his dough like it was an 80 year old woman called Mildred
unfortunately Mildred did fail to rise during the proofing process, not that this really affected the pizza much considering that Paul like the texture of it, but did sadly body shame Mildred for being a little bit lumpy and dry – SHE’S 86!
but they did like his toppings and didn’t complain about the very specific 14% spelt flour he had used in the dough recipe. He’s a scientist through and through.
Sandro was also using pineapple on his pizzas, with the general theme of the pizzas (and the whole episode really) being how much he loves a Texas Barbecue, so much so that he was making the pizzas into heart shapes, a fact that Paul seemed distinctly less than thrilled with
but this is a man that for most of the challenge loomed behind the bakers critiquing their dough kneading choreography and offering less helpful advice than Donny Osmond bluffing his way through being a guest judge on Strictly.
Sandro was also the only baker doing a stuffed crust, filling it with a distinctly unbarbecue combination of camembert and honey
despite the amount of conflicting flavours and the fact Paul Hollywood is averse to anything that alludes to human emotions, they praise his pizzas as “ingenious”.
Dawn was going for similar flavours with her Tex-Mex inspired pizzas which somehow she forgot to put cheese on and so had to kind of just fling chunks of mozzarella onto her pizzas while it was in the oven like she was playing a traditional parlour game from the foothills of the Dolomites
and in order to up the Mex side of her Tex-Mex Pizzas, she covered them liberally with sour cream and guacamole and five whole rings of thinly sliced deseeded chillies to ~up the heat~
it wasn’t a great round for Dawn as her dough wasn’t puffed up enough and both Paul and Prue thought the whole thing was a little bland because of the fact she had used stewing steak instead of beef mince, which does explain the Kevin-like look she gave when they both praised Maxy for her lamb mince pizza
sleep with 2 eyes open, Hollywood
The risk with Maxy going with lamb was just how much oil the mince would release over time, with the centre of her pizza very much becoming…. I tried to look up something to use as a joke here but all I found was people feeding their racing pigeons sheep fat and I wasted 20 minutes trying to find out why to no avail
but she had managed to dab it all away by the time it came to serving the pizzas
her base was a little on the thick size but they really loved her Lamb and Rosemary topping.
Janusz was going for a very British approach and topping his pizza with a Full English Breakfast, the Baked Beans sadly not confined to a tiny ramekin on the side where they would remain IGNORED. Although before Italian Twitter could get their pitchforks and tie up their gladiator sandals, at least he was making the baked beans himself and not opening a tin of poorly debranded Heinz beans
it is a small mercy, but I’ll take it.
In order to add the egg, he as having to place it on top halfway through the cooking process, much like Dawn and her mozzarella and then clearly having witnessed many a breakfast score on Four In A Bed coming crashing down around a slightly gloopy looking egg, he took to it with a blowtorch before serving
He’s a genius! The Bed and Breakfast world will never be the same!
while the egg was absolutely perfect and still slightly runny, the pizzas weren’t really impressing the judges with the bases being a little overdone and the whole thing being a little bland – but to be fair a Full English Breakfast is kind of bland, it’s literally just meat flavoured, you don’t eat it for its culinary prowess, you eat it either because you feel terrible or you’re on the continent and the idea of a fresh croissant for breakfast sends shivers down your spine.
For her pizzas, Carole was taking inspiration from the French dish Tartiflette which is made by layering potatoes with Reblochon Cheese and is commonly served as an apres-ski meal, which is fitting because Carole did seem to have topped her pizzas with enough tartiflette to feed everyone staying at Méribel
and I loved how she glowered at the pizzas as though they had betrayed her trust and done this to themselves while she wasn’t looking
it did it at least taste wonderful though – it’s hard to mess up an ungodly amount of cheese and potatoes but it did mean that her base hadn’t cooked properly and was suffering from performance anxiety
it happens to the best of them, big guy.
An Unofficial Pizza Ranking
- Have Another Pizza My Heart
- Maxy’s Super Lambzza
- Syabira’s Smoke Bomb Pizza
- Kevin’s Punzza
- Janusz’s Hangover Pizza
- Carole’s Pizza betrayal
- Mildred, The Honolulu Dry Spell
- Dawn’s Tex-Mex Villain Origin Story
For their Bread Week technical, the bakers were having to make a batch of 12 Pain aux Raisins, with Syabira very much looking a little bit like she was planning to just serve up a frying pan of raisins
and who could have blamed her because for what was quite a demanding and very specific bake, the instructions were particularly unhelpful, and thus began Kevin’s descent into an existential crisis the likes we haven’t seen since Laura had to go and have a little cry in the fridge
but while he wasn’t confident with the dough recipe – and who could be when the instructions were “make the dough” – he was very confident he could do the creme pat
a little too confident in fact
oh Honey, the basic rules of Bake Off are never show any signs of confidence and never make creme pat with your eyes open, that way you don’t feel guilty as you pummel it into submission… apparently?
But after the Creme Pat Incident, Kevin had very much decided he had no skin in the game and he was not going to be following even the vaguest of instructions
there was truly no soul left in this poor little man and so he sat back and sipped his tea like he was Nero playing the fiddle while he watched Rome burn
and yet despite the fact his Pain aux Raisins could only be described as “leaky” he didn’t finish last, that dishonour being left for Carole whose biggest sin was placing all of her Pain aux Raisins on one tray when baking them, meaning they had fused together into a bit of a melange that she had to surgically disentangle
but to be honest it wasn’t a great technical challenge for anyone, there were issues throughout from under-proofing to sub-par lamination – it’s almost like it’s not a great idea to make an enriched dough in under three hours. But Janusz did take the top spot, mostly because he had instead found a better way to take out his frustrations in life than Kevin had
a significant amount of pain aux raisins were harmed in the making of this challenge.
An Official Pain Aux Raisins Ranking
- Janusz’s Beaten Out Emotions
- Maxy’s By The Virtue Of Everyone Else’s Failures
- James’s Wagging Tails
- Sandro Showed Off His Biceps And I Forgot Everything Else
- Syabira’s Pan o’Raisins
- Dawn’s Contemptable Creme Pat
- Kevin’s Descent Into Madness
- Carole’s Botched Surgery
The Desolation of Smörgåstårta
For this week’s Showstopper the bakers were undertaking the task of making the Swedish dish Smörgåstårta, a sort of sandwich cake that is apparently by all account their equivalent of a Christmas pudding in that nobody truly enjoys it but tradition dictates you have to make it and eat it while wishing you had just bought the M&S Novelty Chocolate Bombe Dessert instead.
If I had, by some unfortunate accident, had to to this challenge I would have recreated the Smörgåstårta helmet that Tove Lo wore on Drag Race recently
I would have insisted that Noel model it.
Smörgåstårta being a word with many an accented letter, did mean that Matt and Noel spent a considerable amount of the challenge making fun of it, because nothing is funnier than making fun of foreign words, and they shaved off 6 months of Maxy’s life every time they did it
this challenge was a hate crime, I’m so sorry.
Having been born in Sweden, Maxy was recreating the traditional Smörgåstårta that she had grown up with, only briefly running into trouble when she realised she hadn’t had the oven preheating
and while at this point Kevin might have sat back and let himself be consumed by the distressing amount of cream cheese in the tent, Maxy forged onwards and while her Smörgåstårta looked like she had wallpapered it with knock off William Morris wallpaper, it was at least a complete Smörgåstårta
the judges were just very thankful for a taste of normality because my God were most of the others suffering from severe cases of Bake Off Brain with their increasingly absurd twists on the challenge.
There were a few ways you could choose to stand out – bonkers fillings or unique breads with Kevin and Dawn going for unique varieties of flour – Kevin had his emmer flour and Dawn had a miscellaneous ancient grain grown by her son’s friend the name of which she did not specify, which does make it sound like it might have been illegal to own without a special license and thus Dawn is a wanted criminal.
Dawn had opted for her ancient grain bread because it would complement the (few) Greek flavours that she was going with, filling her Smörgåstårta with chicken souvlaki, tzatziki, olives and feta
it was a bit of a risky approach considering Paul spent so much time in Cyprus and will use any opportunity to flex this upon someone and you could see Dawn visibly die inside as he began to list all of the typical Greek herbs and spices that she hadn’t used
and in that moment Dawn began to question if she had ever actually been to Greece.
For his fillings, Kevin was drawing inspiration from a fish pie because his wife taught him how to make one and the best way to thank her was to make a giant sandwich cake apparently, and it’s genuinely impressive how much height he got out of the Smörgåstårta considering his emmer flour bread had come out of the oven a little flat
and in keeping with the fish theme, his final Smörgåstårta did look a bit like it itself had crawled out of the ocean
and there’s a brilliant picture that the Bake Off twitter account posted of him and his Smörgåstårta that has the exact same energy as a family photo in which the children have been forced to have their photographs taken with a terrifying Easter Bunny
but the decoration is a tale of two halves because the little fisherman that he had made out of a cucumber and a cherry tomato would have impressed even MacGyver
I think that’s pretty neat, we’ll just pretend the bread wasn’t overbaked.
Carole had also gone for a fish heavy Smörgåstårta pairing her fillings with white seeded bread that she had had a great time shearing into the right sizes
sadly her maths wasn’t quite right and she was one bread layer short and thus forced to loom together the bread fleece into a makeshift fourth layer for her Smörgåstårta that looked like an altar that Fanny Cradock might sacrifice a devilled egg on
but at least the bright colours somewhat distract you from thinking too hard about the room temperature cream cheese, and by all accounts Carole’s fillings were lovely save for maybe needing a touch more seasoning but sadly her bread was a little too dry.
Janusz was drawing his inspiration from another classic British dish: Fish and Chips, including a curry sauce flavoured frosting, the yellow colour of which only added a new layer of dread to the experience
Prue however was more concerned with his fillings because someone’s clearly never had a fully loaded fish finger sarnie and it showed
and it is a little rich coming from somebody that made 11 people dip Garibaldi biscuits into chocolate for no sane reason, but at least she was converted to the right side of a fish finger sandwich after tasting Janusz’s Smörgåstårta.
Syabira was sticking to her Malaysian guns and flavouring her Smörgåstårta like Nasi Lemak, a fragrant coconut rice dish and once again the judges were bowled over by her flavours and presentation
I think she, out of everyone, probably did the best in terms of presentation, mostly because she managed to cover most of it with bright colours and interesting shapes – the whole thing looks like a high fantasy garden, it’s prettier than a Smörgåstårta has any right to be.
Sandra also did quite a good job with his Smörgåstårta, mostly because it could have feasibly been a wedding cake
however lurking beneath the elegant facade were the flavours of an American diner you probably got food poisoning at, with various barbecued meats and a sloppy joe filling all featured within a swirling mix of barbecue sauce that did look a little grim when you cut into it
but given that he had to cook up three different kind of meats for his Big Bad Barbecue, it was quite impressive that he had finished with enough time to clean up his work bench while everyone around him descended further into cream cheese covered chaos
He’s the perfect man.
From one endangered species to another, James was making his Smörgåstårta as an ode to the panda bear and their success of being brought off the Critically Endangered Species List and as adorable as his little bread pandas were, and they really, really were
this did remind me of that brief time in like 2012 when Chris Packham went around doing interviews about how we should just let panda bears go extinct and threatened to eat the last one, which was particularly funny because he was meant to be promoting AutumnWatch and instead decided to call for a panda genocide to a very bemused Bill Turnbull at 8am on BBC1, and so I’m sure there was at least one person who took great joy in seeing Prue tearing into one of James’s pandas like an apex predator
his breads were all beautifully baked, and the marbling on his two toned milk loaf worked out absolutely beautifully
unfortunately his Chinese flavours hadn’t managed to stay distinct enough and it was a little bit one note in terms of flavour.
An Unofficial Smörgåstårta Ranking
- The Smörgåstårtas That Rebs and Abdul Didn’t Bake
- Jessie J Singing Nobody’s Perfect for Live@Home at DisneyLand.
- Rachel Green’s Beef Trifle By Any Other Name
The only bit of post-baking protocol that we have to get through is Star Baker because rather predictably in the absence of two bakers, nobody went home – however there will be a double elimination and I would just like to nominate Noel and Matt before Mexican Week
OH GOD IT’S TOO LATE.
It was pretty much a race between Maxy and Janusz to get their second star baker but with Maxy having fallen a little short in the Smörgåstårta challenge and Janusz redeeming himself of any pizza-related blandness, he took his second win
it’s Janusz’s world and we’re living in it.
And so, still 10 remain
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