There’s a strong custom of cake-based tv. Cupcake Wars, for instance, is tv about small truffles. Cake Wars is about full-size truffles. Fabulous Truffles is about truffles which can be fabulous. Cake Boss is a couple of man who’s the boss of truffles, whereas Ace of Truffles is a couple of man who’s a cake ace. However there is no such thing as a tv about bread.
Bread, by its nature, is inherently uncinematic. It’s sluggish. It’s brown. Largely, it entails ready. In quarantine, this can be a promoting level, the way in which it provides the hours goal, however narratively, it’s a downside. Tv is a visible medium. Bread-making is the method of ready for a beige lump to turn into a much bigger beige lump. And if it doesn’t, nicely … your bread can be type of dense? Bread failures might be devastating — who amongst us has not tried to make baguettes and cried? — however they’re hardly ever spectacular. Unhealthy bread doesn’t explode; it simply doesn’t style good.
That is the problem of the Nice British Baking Present’s Bread Week, which yearly looks like an outlier within the Bakeoverse. It’s so beige, so sensible, so critical, and there’s by no means any fondant, and the way are you supposed to inform out of your couch whether or not somebody’s bread is overproofed or underproofed or proofed simply the correct quantity? The place is the whimsy? The place are the superstar cake-heads? Cake is frothy pleasure; bread is meals.
And but to dismiss Bread Week is to disregard its quiet thrills. Bread Week — the theme of this week’s episode of GBBS — shakes up the sport. Every little thing we thought we knew concerning the potential winners and sure losers is out the window, as a result of these have been the foundations of pastries and truffles and pies and cookies, and child, we’re in a bread world now. Something might occur throughout Bread Week. Rowan might change into Star Baker! We merely have no idea.
Each Bread Week is a singular occasion, just like the Olympics, or Celine Dion reside in live performance, however this Bread Week is especially momentous: It’s the first Bread Week after the bread renaissance of the quarantine period. If this have been The Bachelor, they might name it a very powerful Bread Week within the historical past of the tent, and they’d not be fallacious. We’re all bakers now. We now have been dwelling an uninterrupted Bread Week for eight months.
The Signature Problem for this yr’s precise Bread Week is soda bread, elevating the query of why now we have not simply been baking soda breads for eight months. Like sourdough, soda bread doesn’t use any yeast, however in contrast to sourdough, it doesn’t require establishing a lifelong relationship with a repurposed pickle jar of sludge. Everybody has to make two loaves — one candy, one savory — plus a butter. Paul Hollywood reiterates that that is “a straightforward problem” as a result of “it’s soda bread.”
You may say it’s an uneventful problem, however that’s not appropriate: It’s simply that the occasions are very, very small. For instance, buttermilk splatters throughout Marc’s head and face and shirt, after which all people laughs for a very long time. Linda is doing one thing based mostly on a Welsh tea cake. Mark (nonetheless a unique particular person than Marc) attracts inspiration from his Irish granny, whereas Dave makes an attempt to recapture the flavors of his “favourite nut combine.” Largely, folks use tomatoes (sun-dried), sausages (European), and cheeses (varied, arduous) of their savories, and nuts and berries of their sweets, however Hermine comes up with an “adventurous” salmon-and-cheese concoction — “I don’t even know if that’s a mix!” — Sura goes for za’atar and olive, and Rowan explains that he can be utilizing polenta, which some folks suppose is simply too gritty, however he personally doesn’t. That is what suspense ought to really feel like.
Soda bread is perhaps essentially the most bread-looking bread possible.
Hermine will get the Paul Hollywood handshake for her tacky salmon and boozy fruit loaves — each on the slicing fringe of soda bread expertise — and all people else can also be principally fantastic, even when Lottie’s blueberries are inconsistently distributed. It’s true Rowan’s polenta loaf is “like consuming a lemon drizzle cake in a sandstorm,” however no quantity of justified criticism can hold a very good man down. I’ve come to admire Rowan’s confidence that each one his concepts are good.
The key to at the moment’s technical problem is to “to get your timings proper,” provides Paul Hollywood, deeply, which might be extra helpful knowledge if it was not additionally the key to each different problem, in baking and in life. Paul is forcing everybody to make six rainbow bagels, that are identical to common bagels besides the dough is dyed like rainbows. Considerably shocking, Paul likes rainbow bagels, he says, as a result of they remind him of the NHS.
“What the hell is a ‘rainbow bagel,’” Laura wonders, moderately. “No thought,” trills a delighted Rowan. “I’ve by no means performed coloured bread earlier than, so it’s all a part of the void of discovery, actually!” The principle factor to recollect is that you simply shouldn’t overproof it, however you additionally shouldn’t underproof it. That is the one bread recommendation there’s.
This can be a nice problem, it seems: It’s easy, and but there are such a lot of completely different alternatives for error, and in addition — one thing of a technical rarity — it appears actively enjoyable, and it by some means manages to persuade me that making rainbow bagels at house is an inexpensive factor an individual may do. “I feel the trick with these,” concludes Mark, “is the timing.”
Linda wins, Rowan loses, final week’s star baker Dave is second-worst for his deflated effort, and understated menace Marc is second from the highest. Marc is the human embodiment of Bread Week: He’s both pleasantly forgettable or secretly the very best, however no person can fairly agree on which one it’s.
Okay, this was a very good problem.
To assist reply these and different questions, Paul and Prue roll out the showstopper, which is to make a “massive ornamental bread plaque within the fashion of a conventional harvest competition sheaf.” Within the spirit of harvest festivals, it ought to depict “the one factor you’re most grateful for,” and within the spirit of a bread plaque, it should be made out of bread. Arguably, that is much more private than your favourite superstar cake-head. Bread Week is nothing if not every week of revelations.
Marc decides on a fennel-caraway-coriander dharma wheel as a result of after he misplaced his leg within the accident he was in a foul place and located Buddhist readings useful. Laura makes a pancetta and gruyere focaccia stage with spicy fougasse theater masks as a result of she is grateful for musical theater. Hermine is grateful for her annual London-to-Paris highway journeys, a gratitude she is going to specific within the type of a panorama framed with brioche, whereas Lottie and Dave are each grateful for his or her homes.
Sura is particularly grateful for her mom, who used to develop tomatoes on the vine inside their London flat. Peter is grateful for town of Edinburgh, which he’ll seize in bagel dough, Linda is grateful for her farm-girl childhood, Mark is grateful for his Northern-Irish childhood, and Rowan is grateful for his lifetime of artwork and music within the idyllic Worcestershire countryside. In honor of this, he’s going to make an enormous pear tree.
Paul is worried that Hermine can not do brioche in three hours, however Hermine is betting that with strategic freezer use, in reality, she will be able to.
It’s unimaginable, what you are able to do with bread. It appears to me like everybody goes to fail — You possibly can’t make a highway journey out of bread! — however the pleasure of Bread Week is that no person does. Here’s a doughy portrait of Dave’s pregnant spouse! Right here is Linda’s favourite childhood cow!
The one factor you can’t do, apparently, is make brioche in three hours. Hermine’s brioche is certainly underproofed, however even Paul admits her design is “very, excellent.” Sura’s maternal tomato vine is just not solely “dramatic and efficient” however as soon as once more scrumptious, and Marc’s dharma wheel is a near-religious expertise. “It appears good, tastes good, smells good, it’s good,” proclaims Prue. Peter’s Edinburgh, although, has the feel of shoe leather-based, and Dave’s bread home is dry and uninteresting. How the star bakers have fallen! That is the kind of reversal that may occur in a Bread Week. The predator turns into the prey.
In the end, although, social order is restored. Marc is appropriately topped Star Baker, and Rowan is distributed dwelling for his pear tree, which is so lovely to take a look at and so unlucky to eat. “You’ve gone for all fashion and no substance,” Paul Hollywood tells him, steely-eyed as ever. That is as appropriate as it’s devastating. In Rowan’s reminiscence, could all of us be so cheerfully undaunted by our personal limitations.