Rainbow bagels are the worst Bread Week offense in Great British Baking Show history
Noel and Matt hold the "Paul Hollywood Handshake"
The Great British Baking Show is both a mental health routine and a competitive show, and Bread Week is a major milestone in our journey to a better, more buttery, and British lifestyle. This week we got to know our participants - and our new co-host Matt Lucas - so well that the tent no longer feels like a magical, distant place, but like our second home. This is where we should always be, and this is where this team of ten bakers should be judged by Paul, Prue and me. God it really feels that good to be back doesn't it?
Signature Bake: Soda Bread
Unlike most traditional breads, which are heavily kneaded and leavened with yeast, soda breads are chemically leavened with baking powder, which the British delightfully call bicarb. Essentially, they're huge scones that Paul Hollywood kindly calls scahns. Other British terms to familiarize yourself with before we dive into anything: A scone can be what Americans call biscuits; "Cookies" are biscuits; and "baps" are either soft, pliable buns or breasts. Now you know why Paul Hollywood is a bread man.
If you make me a "Growth in the Loaf" remix, you will receive not one, not two, but THREE whole US dollars
Bread Week gives us another round of short baker bio videos, and since this is the third installment in the series, the producers either run out of ideas or they believe they have already done more with this whole Cockvamie COVID bladder situation than enough for these bakers. Enjoy the fascinating sight of Mark ... working from home! Admire Laura ... still eat the pizza from last week's bio! See the sight of young, beaming Peter ... who is standing next to his brother who does not tolerate gluten! This is Gluten-Intolerant Brother's third appearance in a row as it is extremely important for all of us to remember that Peter's gluten-free baked goods are not all about taste - they are a vehicle for his GI levels Brother to prevent.
We've been blessed with such an extraordinary number of bakers this year that we have three episodes, and I've barely written a word about Linda, despite the fact that she is so damn delightful that I may or may not have several dozen photos of her like her fish for mackerel and drink in a shed attached to the ceiling above my bed. (My husband watches the show too, so I assume he's totally cool with it.) Their sweet soda bread is inspired by the traditional flavors of Wales, which means it has lots of dried fruit in it but no vowels.
But the real star of this round is Hermione, the single mother from West Africa, whose free time is spent knitting on the floor, knitting on a park bench, and knitting with the films of Lupita Nyong'o. As co-host Matt Lucas points out, she “invented a bread” and made a hearty bread with smoked salmon and umami-rich black garlic that Paul Hollywood beats for a ribbon, as well as a sweet soda bread with ultra-strong brandy fruit that makes 80-year-old Prue visibly horny. Hermione's soda bread is so good she deserves the second Paul Hollywood handshake of the season (!!!), but sadly, soda bread isn't much to see so let's enjoy her contribution to Cake Week instead.
Lupita Nyong'o cake
Technical challenge: rainbow bagels
I was born and raised in New York City, which means I have very strong opinions about bagels. I had never thought about what the condition of the bagels on the other side of the pond might be like, but at a time when everything you need to know about good bagel making is available on the internet, at least you would imagine that the British know how bagels should look like.
TO BE SHAMED.
Not only does Paul Hollywood tell bakers to rainbow their bagels (a Shonda, if there ever was one), his instructions also state that they should be boiled in "bicarb" infused water, which is so wrong that I should use it practically want to vomit in disgust. There is only one acceptable thing to add to bagel boiling water and that is malt syrup. The fact that this technical challenge even happened has resulted in my losing respect not just for Paul Hollywood but for the entire UK. Win Linda's Bagels; the rest can burn in hell where they belong.
Showstopper Challenge: bread plates for the harvest festival
This week I learned of the existence of the Harvest Festival, which is like the UK pagan harvest festival. I spent a solid five minutes Googling this ancient tradition so I could tell my fellow Yankee Doodles all about it. The harvest festival (or festival) is traditionally celebrated on the Sunday, which is closest to the first full moon of autumn, during which the village was visited by the "old pig". Similar to Pumpkin Spice Santa Claus, Old Sow is played by two men dressed in sacks filled with prickly cuttings from the bushes. Then the celebration began, or horkey: a cart of corn was rolled into a village while a band was playing, and women were sent into the fields to collect any crops the men had missed. Then they collected dried corn husks to make dolls that encapsulate the feminine spirit of the divine Cailleach (Gaelic for “witch”) who lives in corn and was made homeless by the harvest. Once the spirit was good and trapped, it was burned to mark the death of summer. After that, townspeople ate geese (which would bring them financial health in the coming year) and opened their kegs full of beer. To make sure that the holy occasion was remembered after the whole town fell apart, someone made a harvest table. ~ fin ~
Rowan's Worcestershire pear tree
The best trees are the ones that stare you dead in the eye.
The nicest of all bread bars was from our resident dandy / possible time traveler Rowan, but unfortunately it tasted super lame, and since he also smelled it with his grainy polenta soda bread and limp, wrinkled "bagels", we have to offer him and his nifty west Adieu. This week's star baker is Marc with a C, the sculptor whose strength is baking bread. Well done Marc! I look forward to everything going downhill for you from now on.
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