This week's opening sketch is a throwback to the really good old days of Sue and Mel, as Alison Hammond peppers Noel Fielding with questions he can answer about The Great British Baking Show, from what's the difference between flan and tart to defining an even bake to if he finds a "soggy bottom" funny. (Of course, he does, he's Noel Fielding, he'll never not find a soggy bottom funny.) As for anyone being injured by a Hollywood Handshake, Paul Hollywood probably wishes that were true, and yes, if you want to know anything about baking, Prue Leith is the only one who knows anything. Everybody knows that
Just like everybody knows, if it's Week Three in the Tent on The Great British Baking Show and the Channel 4 version of the series, you can bet a good solid quid it's Bread Week, as it has been ever since the show moved from the BBC. (Hell, it was Bread Week nearly every Week Three when the show was on the BBC, but occasionally, they'd switch Bread, Cake, and Biscuit around just to screw with people.) For those who have been struggling (ahem, Nicky), this is the week to prove that they have one of the foundational skills, while for those like Dan, who have knocked it out of the park twice already, it's time to prove if they have triple threat status.
As for everyone else, it's time for Paul to pretend he's the King of Bread and walk around swinging his.... baguette around, shall we say. (Don't worry, it's a small baguette.) Let's move on from the pain to the Signature Challenge.
This week's signature challenge is the Cottage Loaf, the traditional semi-two-tiered round loaf of bread people think of when they think of "homemade bread" you buy at the bakery. Creating it is actually making two loaves and popping the small on top of the large, and as seems to be the case all season, there are no rules about flavor or fillings or toppings, allowing the bakers to go for as easy or complicated as their comfort levels dictate. In many cases, since this is one they practiced ahead of time, the bakers brought ingredients from their home gardens to help create unique flavors that speak to who they are. As always, the Signature is graded on a Pass/Fail metric.
- Saku Cinnamon & Orange Loaf (Pass) It's a good-looking loaf inside and out, and Prue says it smells divine. Paul says it was underproofed by a few minutes
- Matty Olive & Tomato Loaf (Pass) Paul calls it "Rustic," and the filling's not even, but it's not bad, even if the chili is a bit much at the end.
- Dana Bread-ley Cooper Loaf (Pass) Puntastic name, underproofed, but only by a few minutes, but good bake and flavor on it
- Rowan Olive & Tomato Loaf (Fail) It's hilariously huge, Paul says it's monstrous, and Prue hates the design.
- Nicky Roast Garlic & Rosemary Loaf (Fail) Dense, salty, and sad
- Cristy Cranberry, Rosemary & Walnut Loaf (Pass) It's missing salt, but otherwise it's not bad
- Abbi Country Kitchen Loaf (Fail) It's a collapsed loaf, like a volcano that's given its all. She calls it "Flat Janice," it's got too much garlic and not enough salt.
- Josh Nduja Pizza Loaf (Pass) The flavor is good, the filling is well-distributed, and it's good-looking.
- Dan Wild Garlic Loaf (Pass) His filling all fell to the bottom, but everything else is tasty
- Tasha Roast Garlic & Rosemary Malted Loaf (Pass) It's dense, but Prue says she'd be proud if she'd made it. Paul calls it a 90% success.
Oh, we found Abbi's weak spot, which isn't good. Nicky is definitely a triple fail, which means, by rights, she should go home but will probably overstay her welcome. Rowan says it's better to be monstrous than mediocre, and let's be real, he's not wrong.
Since this is Bread Week, of course, Paul Hollywood sets the Technical Challenge, which, once he leaves the tent with Prue, is announced as a dozen Devonshire Splits. If you're wondering what those are, they are Victorian Chudleighs, sometimes called Devon Buns, baby buns that are split in half, filled with a line of jam and a line of clotted cream, and eaten at tea time. They're also something The Guardian declared unfashionable circa 2010. That means this is the first Technical of the season where the entire tent isn't intimately familiar with the item being asked for, which will make a big difference.
10. Dan: Flat and small and crumbly
9. Rowan: Too small and way underproofed
8. Abbi: Way too small, really dense
7. Matty: Too dense, underproofed, the split is more of a rip
6. Cristy: Neat and round but small and dense
5. Nicky: A little small, but not as bad as some
4. Josh: Too big, underproofed but tasty
3. Dana: Underproofed, but most are correctly sized and soft inside
2. Tasha: Good texture, just slightly underproofed; forgot the sugar
1. Saku: The size is right, well-proofed, and the cream's just a bit funny-looking
The judges were disappointed to see Dan was the owner of the worst of the buns. That might be enough to get the Technical tossed at judgment time; Paul never likes it when his favorites fail. (Let's hope that's the case, for Abbi's sake.)
The Showstopper Challenge for this week is a Plaited Centerpiece featuring two different types of flour. Not just two different types of bread but two different types of flour. That's a serious request there since that means you have to plait breads that are of completely different makeups (or plait twice as much). However, these breads can be sweet or savory, baker's choice. Most people think of Challah when they think of plaited bread in America, but in the U.K., it's really thought of as a Swedish and Nordic tradition done during the holidays, so don't be surprised if some Christmas comes calling. (Also, apparently, this is why Tasha's been braiding her hair as practice.)
Josh’s Tiger Mascot I'm going to be real with everyone. I think this is what the show was hoping to get, something that was the equivalent of Paul's Bread Lion from Nadya's season. Congrats if they were because they've done it. Paul is probably kicking himself for wasting the Showstopper Handshake last week right now.
Nicky’s Angus the Highland Cow A small miracle that Nicky, for once, did not completely fail a Showstopper challenge. It's because she made something that played to her stretches and minimized her weaknesses. As I said above, she's one who is going to be here longer than she probably should and go further than people better than her.
Matty’s The Hammers Thank heavens the show told me what team's symbol this is because I never would have known, and Paul is right that he better hope he's allowed back on the grounds after this. One of his breads is bone dry, but the other's good.
Saku’s Peacock on a Branch Her centerpiece is so huge Noel has to help her carry it, but good lord, is it gorgeous. Sadly one of her breads is gluey, and the other is dry, but as "bread art," it's a stunner.
Rowan’s A Bread Rowan Tree Like his earlier loaf, Rowan's tree is huge, but he also got it to stand upright, which is a feat of engineering to make the brain boggle. It's sadly raw and over-curried in the trunk, and the leaves are also over-flavored and didn't rise. Paul hates it and calls it hideous.
Dana’s Tea Beside the Sea It's such a happy little bread basket, that Paul does the only thing an orge could think of and overturns it, sending her breads flying so he can eat the basket itself. Prue loves the basket breads, and though Paul notes there's a bit soggy, he does too.
Cristy’s Honey & Chocolate This is not really impressive the way the others are. It's just a pair of braided rings. Prue overpraises her as she admits Cristy didn't finish, and the whole thing is very odd.
Abbi’s My Favourite Tree It gets even odder when Abbi's tree, which is not great, sure, but at least is *finished* and like *a design* comes up, and Paul starts sneering "rudimentary" and how it needs "more stilton" and "too dense."
Dan’s Stuffed Crust Pizza Okay, let us be clear: This is a 100% failure. He failed at time management. He failed at the Technical. He's not the triple threat the show was hoping for. He does not bread. His showstopper is *raw.* Literally, he served the judges *raw dough.* I cannot think when the last time that happened. This is startling.
Tasha’s Medusa Her Medusa is pretty damn cool. I'd put her, Josh, and Saku as the three best pieces of bread art today, and of them, she and Josh are neck and neck as to which should win for best in show for taste. But it's clear which one has Paul's heart: "Stunning," he says. "You understand bread." (Tasha is slightly unnerved.)
It's pretty clear it's down to Tasha and Josh again, and though I would argue it's Josh's turn since Tasha got it last week, Paul's "You Understand Bread" already answered who is getting Star Baker, if not who is going to win Season 14. However, when it comes to who goes home, it's not Cristy, Rowan, or even Dan (though it would never be Dan)...it's Abbi?!?! Well, that's the first genuinely inexplicable exit of the season. Guess we're in the meat of the season now, kids!