Bake Off 2019: From pert buns to bread dread

Fans of ASMR (that’s people who enjoy certain visual or auditory sensations) would have been thrilled with last night’s episode of Bake Off.

There was the satisfying sound of crusts being cut and dough being slapped to the somewhat less thrilling noises of Paul Hollywood chomping his way through a white bap and veggie burger.

The latter is definitely something I can live without. I was disappointed, however, at the lack of bread sniffing. If I’ve learnt one thing from filming the Britain’s Best Loaf competition for the past two years, it’s that aroma counts for a lot. (Also, it’s fun to watch people inhale the heady scent of a freshly-baked loaf.)

Anyway, enough of my fetishes. The bakers were first tasked with creating a filled tear ‘n’ share loaf. It could be sweet or savoury, as long as it was yeasted.

Cinnamon rolls were a popular choice, with Helena and David (pictured above) opting for the American classic, while Rosie whipped up a chilli & Manchego loaf with Mediterranean veg, which Prue described as “perfect”. Priya’s smoky jalapeño tear ‘n’ share was praised for its flavour and texture, as was Michael’s chilli-spiced bread with coconut chutney, which earned him the first Hollywood handshake.

Things were less successful for Amelia, who made a chorizo brunch loaf with a trio of dips, which nearly killed Prue with its spiciness, while Steph’s sundried tomato & pesto creation was “bone dry”.

Henry, who again insisted on wearing a tie, whipped up a chicken and pesto checkerboard loaf. “They do look like breasts,” he said before popping them in the oven. You can’t say breasts on Bake Off. Buns, sure. Baps, of course. But breasts? That’s really quite brazen.

Thankfully, the technical presented many opportunities for bap- and bun-related innuendos as the contestants were tasked with making eight floured white baps with veggie burgers.

Here’s a quick-fire round of smut from the technical:

  • “I like quite a pert bun” – David
  • “I’m about to shape my buns” – Michelle
  • “I’m a meat man” – Phil

Turns out Paul’s warning of “it’s not as easy as you think” rang true as many of the bakers produced underbaked or underproved loaves. Amelia came last, followed by Phil, Rosie, Helena and Alice. Hollywood handshake recipient Michael came middle of the pack while Michelle secured fifth place, Priya fourth, Steph third, David second and Henry first.

Going into the showstopper, many of the bakers were in a precarious position, with Paul and Prue threatening that this could be the week two people went home.

“It’s go big or go home. Or go big, make a mistake and go home,” said David.

The judges weren’t going to make it easy on the bakers as they challenged them to create a display of artistically scored loaves. Themes ranged from tribal masks to caterpillar transformations, victory wreaths, bread safaris and a herb garden. Of course, Helena kept things spooky with a pumpkin and cauldron (see below).

This is where things got tense. You know it’s a good episode when you’re genuinely nervous for the bakers, even if it is over a trivial thing such as making sure they don’t cut too deep.

A common theme among the critiques was lack of flavour. Maybe Action on Salt’s messages have made headway with the home baking crowd because Alice, Helena, Priya, David and Amelia all needed a flavour boost for their loaves.

Things got worse for David and Amelia. “All style, no substance,” Paul said to David, while Amelia’s offering lacked finesse, flavour and had a terrible bake. Ouch.

Rosie’s bread safari, complete with grey elephant loaf, was praised for its scoring and flavour, while Phil’s bold victory wreaths were beautifully baked, even if they could have used a bit more scoring.

“Bread can take a hike,” said Henry at the end of the challenge. Such attitude.

All in all, it was a lacklustre week. Amelia (below, right), rightly, exited the tent after struggling in all three challenges while Michael (below, left) was crowned star baker. It’s not that he did badly, but unlike previous weeks there was no standout winner from the group.

A few titbits based on this week’s episode:

Most likely to win: Henry

Who should have gone home: Amelia

Most fun to watch: Henry. His sassy looks to camera made it like watching an episode of The Office.

Quote of the week: “I quite like a pert bun” – David

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