The Great British Bake Off Week 3 is upon us – and lo it was the time of bread!
Despite the right honourable Mary Berry leaking who was going out this week in an early interview – oops! – there was still plenty of drama in the tent this week as not everyone managed to rise to the occasion.
The signature challenge was all about yeastless bread delights while four identical crusty baguettes were needed for the technical round. Finally the showstopper tasked the remaining 10 with creating extravagant 3D masterpieces out of nothing but bread. And they were very fancy indeed.
It all happened under the watchful eye of Mr. Paul Hollywood – a professional baker specialising in all kinds of bread. And he had many a word for the contestants as they slaved over ovens, mixes and the correct structure of their bakes.
Everyone did really well in the first challenge with only Alvin being accused of erring on the side of ciabatta in the second task. It was only on the showstopper that the cracks started to show, with a full five hours for the arduous creation.
The designs were all very ambitious and other Paul’s lion could have been a disaster but ended up a surprising treat. What wasn’t so surprising was Dorret’s failed attempt at a bed which was poorly made and undercooked. She’s been on the way out for a while and finally took her last bow.
Ian is star baker for the second week in a row, and Paul gets a special mention for the majestic lion.
Nine remain, next up is desserts. But before all that catch up with some impressive recipes from week 3 – here’s Paul Hollywood’s guide to baguettes and other Paul’s best recipe for Cranberry and orange sweet soda bread.
Paul Hollywood’s Baguettes
Authentic baguettes with a crunchy crust and soft fluffy crumb.
For this recipe you will need a freestanding mixer with a dough hook attachment, a 2¼ litre/4 pint square plastic container and a linen couche.
olive oil, for greasing
500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
10g/¼ oz salt
10g/¼ oz fast-action yeast
370ml/13fl oz cool water
Lightly oil a 2¼ litre/4 pint square plastic container with olive oil. (It’s important to use a square tub as it helps shape the dough.)
Put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with a dough hook (don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast). Add three-quarters of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water, then continue to mix on a medium speed for 5-7 minutes, until you have a glossy, elastic dough.
Tip the dough into the prepared tub. Cover and leave for 1 hour, or until at least doubled in size.
Dredge a linen couche with flour and lightly dust the work surface with flour.
Carefully tip the dough onto the work surface. Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible. (This helps to create the irregular, airy texture of a really good baguette.) The dough will be wet to the touch but still lively.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into an oblong by flattening the dough out slightly and folding the sides into the middle. Then roll each up into a sausage – the top should be smooth with the join running along the length of the base. Now, beginning in the middle, roll each sausage with your hands. Don’t force it out by pressing heavily. Concentrate on the backwards and forwards movement and gently use the weight of your arms to roll out the dough to 30cm/12in long.
Lay a baguette along the edge of the linen couche and pleat the couche up against the edge of the baguette. Place another baguette next to the pleat. Repeat the process until all 4 baguettes are lined up against each other with a pleat between each. Cover the baguettes with a clean tea towel and leave for 1 hour, or until the dough has at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger.
Preheat the oven to 240C/220C Fan/Gas 9 and put a roasting tray in the bottom of the oven to heat up.
When the baguettes are risen, remove them from the couche and dust lightly with flour. Slash each one 4 times along its length on the diagonal, using a razor blade or a very sharp knife. Transfer to a large baking tray.
Fill the heated roasting tray with hot water, to create steam, and put the bread into the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the baguettes are golden-brown and have a slight sheen. Cool on a wire rack.
Cranberry and Orange Sweet Soda Bread – by Paul
The texture and flavour of soda bread isn’t dissimilar to scones, so sweet doughs work beautifully.
400g/14oz plain flour
1 tsp table salt
2 tsp baking powder
50g/1¾oz caster sugar
1 tsp caraway seeds
50g/1¾oz unsalted butter, chilled and diced
100g/3½oz dried cranberries
1½ unwaxed oranges, zest only
1 large free-range egg
175ml/6fl oz buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, caster sugar and caraway seeds. Using your fingers, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the cranberries and orange zest.
Mix the egg and buttermilk together then stir into the dry mixture using a wooden spoon. Use your hands to bring the dough together, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball.
Place the dough on the prepared baking tray and cut a cross into the top using a sharp knife. Bake for 30–35 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
The Great British Bake Off airs on BBC One at 8pm on Wednesdays.