Bronya Smolen looks at the quarter-final highlights in TV’s favourite bakery contest. 

There is more than one way to prove a loaf, but one of them is apparently not in a microwave! “It’s a dangerous thing to do,” said The Great British Bake Off (GBBO) judge Paul Hollywood, but Nancy did it anyway. You have to admire her integrity.

This week’s GBBO quarter-finals saw the contestants tackle ‘advanced dough’ techniques. Chetna’s choice of recipe in the enriched dough challenge gave her an upper hand in the technical challenge - a povitica. The filled loaf requires the dough to be rolled extremely thin, spread with filling, coiled, then baked for a good hour. 

Patience seems to be key when working with dough, and every recipe requires a different nurturing. When I went to visit Lee Smith, last year’s Britain’s Best Loaf winner, his winning recipe took a total of 27 hours to get to the end result. I admire you bakers and your patience! Nancy proved that, while microwaves may save you time, cutting corners can ruin the final result.

The show-stopper challenge opened my eyes to a whole new way with doughnuts. The ones which stood out to me being Richard’s rhubarb and custard hearts, and Luis’ cocktail doughnuts. Alcohol doughnuts are not something I have come across before, but I can see it taking off. The National Cupcake Championships allow bakers to enter a cupcake made with alcohol - always a popular category - so I’m sure the same goes for other products, especially if your core customer base is comprised of Mary Berry clones.

This time we saw Martha Collison, The Great British Bake Off’s youngest-ever contestant, take the crumble at elimination! But something tells me it’s not all over yet for the 17-year-old. So many of the top bakers I have met started when they were young - either on their own accord or as part of a long family business, learning from their elders. She is young, confident, and has clearly shown some skill. While there is much more to learn for the teen, my advice would be ‘watch this space!’ But first let’s leave her to pass her A-levels…

Next week - patisserie! The remaining bakers will be making baklava, schichttorte and two entremets. Will Richard make it a fifth week at the top?