The Great British Baking Show: Season 3 “Bread Week”

Our third round in the tent finds us confronted with Paul Hollywood’s specialty: Bread Week. Every time the show does Bread week, Mary spends the week deferring to Paul Hollywood, and the episode spends every chance they can reminding us that this is Paul’s domain. It also means that Paul lords over the contestants with his knowledge and his great non-advice like “Well, it could be fantastic, but it could be a disaster.” Helpful!

This is the week where we also get a preview of who is the real deal and who is going to spend the rest of their time in the tent not actually pulling off whatever it is they’re aiming at. Also, for the first time in the American airing, we get a glimpse of how this show isn’t quite the fair shake it seems. When it first started airing over here, one of the things that bowled me over was that the contestants got to go home and practice over the week, and then come in and bake on weekends.

Flora oven kneeling

But for the first time we see how that really favors a certain kind of contestant: the stay-at-home mum or dad, or those who have jobs that are willing to give them half days to stay home and practice. Those who still have to go to work and have long commutes? They’re just not as able to keep up.

This week, the Signature Challenge was the “Quickbread” Challenge, where everyone makes what is called a “Soda Bread.” IE: breads made with baking soda instead of yeast. The Technical Challenge went French a second time with Baguettes. Our final Showstopper was one of the most difficult so far with 3D Bread Sculptures made out of at least three different types of bread, though in some cases, the types of bread seemed to border on several dozen.baker line


For the second time in two weeks, Ian brought ingredients from home for the Signature, as he brought wild garlic that he went forging for the day before coming out to the tent. (He also showed himself to be quite the metal artist, with a mold for his 3D sculpture that looked like it might be in the window of a local artists show.) The Signature Challenge also featured a head to head Mexican Bread Stand Off between Nadiya and Mat, a chocolate bread from Ugne, and our first “Hollywood Handshake” as Paul impressed Paul.


Ian quickbread

  • Alvin Prosciutto, manchego&balsamic onion soda breads Pass, with flying colors.
  • Ian Wild garlic pesto soda breads Pass, Mary loved the wild garlic.
  • Dorret Walnut&Stilton soda breads Fail. Cheese did not come through.
  • Nadiya  Mexican bread with warm tomato salsa Pass, but Paul was not happy with the appearance.
  • Mat Jalapeño, Mexican cheddar&smoked salt soda breads Pass (barely), but not as good as Nadiya’s. It’s OoVerWERKED, drawled Paul.
  • Tamal Fig, cheese&walnut breads Pass. Paul loved the goat cheese.
  • Sandy Soda breads with smoked bacon&onion Pass, Paul liked it, but complained it crumbled on touch.
  • Flora Fig&hazelnut rye breads Pass. Paul called the hazelnut flavor “bang on.”
  • Ugnė Chocolate quick breads with salted caramel sauce Pass, to the surprise of everyone, including Ugne.
  • Paul Cranberry&orange sweet soda breads Win. Earned Hollywood Handshake.

All Technical Challenges that come from France mean that Sue wanders around speaking French, or at least in a heavy French accent, which add extra delight to the proceedings. And that was before she told anyone who did know what a baguette was to pack up and go home. For those who don’t know, the show made sure to emphasize that the secret ingredient for this challenge is STEAM–sadly some of the contestant focused more on whether or not the “proofing drawer” setting on the oven was the key, and the value of doing things as one does at home in glass bowls, or following the instructions and using the plastic containers.

Bread technical

10. Paul: “Half baked ciabatta” in the words of Paul Hollywood.
9. Nadiya: No steam, were basically ciabattas.
8. Mat: Underproofed and underbaked.
7. Sandy: Top cuts were wrong, color was bad.
6. Dorret: Too many top slices, underproofed, different sizes.
5. Ugne: Outside colorless, inside fine.
4. Alvin: A little fat, but otherwise ok.
3. Tamal: Underbaked, but otherwise not bad.
2. Flora: Underproofed, but otherwise not bad.
1. Ian: Mary “Can’t fault that!”

The Bread Sculpture Showstopper really required practice at home. And as I said earlier, those who had time to spend time thinking this over and practicing over and over all week did better than those who did not. Ian, for instance, not only spent his time at home figuring out how to bake in a flowerpot, but he made an entire metal sculpture to bake his creation on. Nadiya had also practiced over and over, and one got the sense if her dozens of home failures hadn’t happened, she wouldn’t have pulled off this end product.

Alvin Bread Shop

Then there was Paul, who didn’t need no stinking metal sculptures. Though he failed the baguette technical badly, his understanding of how bread rises and bakes up meant that his lion face was created completely from simply using the right breads in the right places. And then there was Dorret. I’m not sure what possessed her to change her mind last-minute and do a sculpture she had never practiced at home once, ever. Perhaps it was the fear that too many of her competitors were doing flowers? But her excuse that she works a full day and her commute doesn’t get home until 7pm each night resonated. Even if she had done her practiced idea, how can that compete with a dude who sat at home and wielded a metal sculpture to bake on?

Grab some cheese, let’s hit the doughverload.

Tamal Beadcycle

Tamal’s Breadcycle Very impressive. All three bakes were stunners, Paul praised the Chelsea bun wheels especially.

Sandy Poppies

Sandy’s Basket of Bread Flowers with a walnut&blue cheese centre Mary thought it was a bit clumsy, and the poppy petals were deemed more chip-like than bread.

Alvin Cornocopia

Alvin’s Cornucopia Holy heck, talk about a Hermione type overachiever. Half a dozen different breads, all of them perfect. Paul said not to quite go so overboard next time though.

Ugne easter basket

Ugnė’s Easter Basket Paul didn’t like the truffle oil on the brioche. Otherwise, everything was tasty.

Ian Flour power

Ian’s Flour power Mary called it “Truly magnificent.” Paul even liked the flowerpot bake.

Flora herb couture

Flora’s Herb couture Mary loved how delicate it was. Paul said the pesto flavor of the corset was amazing for how thin each piece was.

Nadiya snake

Nadiya’s Snake Charmer’s Basket Paul loved the snake color and flavor, but her basket was slightly underbaked.

Paul Lion

Paul’s King of the Jungle It’s rare to see Paul Hollywood bowled over. But he was so over the moon about this creation. “THAT is one of the best things I’ve seen in bread. Ever.” He said he wouldn’t have attempted it.

Mat Brighton

Mat’s Curry inspired Brighton Pavilion Paul called the visual effective, but the breads were all underproofed and underbaked.

Dorret Unmade Bread

Dorret’s Unmade Bread In the words of Paul Hollywood: “Is that five hours work? No.” And that was before they got to the middle of the sculpture, and the mattress was raw. It was the nail in the coffin for a very bad day for Dorret.

Paul Hollywood would have given Star Baker to contestant Paul this week, if it hadn’t been for the complete failure of the Technical. But they couldn’t overlook that–especially with Ian acing all three challenges. So Paul got the show’s first Special Commendation, for his Lion sculpture, while Ian took his second Star Baker. To no one’s surprise, Dorret was out for her unpracticed, uncooked, unmade bread sculpture.

Next week: Dessert!


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