Very VERY belatedly, it’s bread week! It’s my favourite staple week of the series, and this is the first great episode of the season. I wish I’d been able to watch this live, it was so much fun. After a couple of weeks of what I can only guess was post-lockdown “how do you people?,” the bakers are more relaxed and able to joke around with Mel and Claire more.
Speaking of Mel and Claire, they’ve realised that they’ve used all the bread puns. There are none left! So they decide they’ll need to rely on funny faces, silly voices and Matt Moran bald jokes. I thought Matt looked like an academic with his glasses.
The bakers are excited. Aaron and Haydn are bread people and stop just short of saying the cursed phrase, “this is my week.” Hoda is not a bread person and utters the phrase “empty calories,” which made me furious. This is a baking show! Much like the limit, empty calories do not exist.
Signature: Savoury bread rolls
Love this challenge. It’s a great way to see the bakers’ creativity in what appears to be a simple bake. Also they have to shape 12 identical bread rolls, which isn’t easy.
Haydn made cheddar, camembert and rosemary knot rolls using the Tangzhong method, which involves pre-mixing part of the flour and liquid and cooking it to get a roux. He remarked that two weeks after flailing, it’s nice to know what you’re talking about. Matt and Maggie said it had really good dough and that it was a great bread, fluffy and had good salt content. Maggie’s only suggestion was to take the skin off the camembert.
Hoda made tsoureki flavoured with mastic and nigella seeds and it’s been so long since I watched the episode that my only other note for this one is “quite delicate.” I guess they didn’t show a lot of Hoda this week.
Ashley made pretzel rolls with a sundried tomato mix as the filling. She used string to make the rolls look like tomatoes, but the dough was over proved and she wasn’t able to get the string off. Matt and Maggie said the flavour was great, but they prefer their bread with “no strings attached.”
Aaron made “babka ganoush,” aka babka rolls with eggplant filling and topped with za’atar. Matt and Maggie said that they were fantastic – crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The only criticism was that maybe there was too much baba ganoush.
Blessing was excited for bread week because her dad makes bread. Her herb pesto vegan twists had vegan garlic butter and black truffle oil in addition to the herby pesto. During the challenge, Matt and Maggie warned Matt and Maggie said that they were nice and fluffy, but there was a lot going on and they couldn’t taste all the flavours.
Nurman made squid ink rolls with garlic three ways: raw, roasted and garlic powder. Matt and Maggie were concerned about the raw garlic, and when they tasted the rolls, Matt said “woah”. The dough was great, but there was too much garlic.
Jawin made a Laotian version of sausage rolls with pork floss, lemongrass curry paste and spring onion. My first note after the flavours is “I want to eat them.” They sounded amazing, they looked great and Matt and Maggie loved them! Maggie liked the way that the lemongrass lifted up the pork.
Ella made challah rolls with za’atar and fresh hummus. When Matt and Maggie come to talk to her, Ella says that she makes a great challah in 5 hours. It’s always like that. The rolls were beautifully uniform, but the dough was slightly tight and needed to prove for a bit longer. Maggie is gunning for a dinner invitation, saying she’d like to try Ella’s challah when she’s had the time to make it properly. Me too, Maggie.
Carmel made olive and feta rolls. We didn’t get a lot of Carmel this challenge, but the judges said that the rolls had a good crust and that the olives and rosemary lifted the feta.
Nav made my other favourite rolls for the week, Afghani lamb and onion rolls flavoured with coriander. There was a bit of concern about cooking the lamb in the pressure cooker, but it was fine. Matt was excited to try them. They were really good, the lamb was beautifully cooked and the sweetness of the onions came through.
Technical: Swedish cinnamon and cardamom bread
I’ve heard of cinnamon, I’ve heard of cardamom, I’ve heard of bread and I’ve heard of Swedish”Jawin
Matt’s hints for this one are “prove it to me” and “you need to get on a roll.” I want to make this bread. it sounds delicious (recipe here), but having the oven on at this time of year is horrible. Matt tells Maggie that the biggest pressure point for this one is balancing the cinnamon and cardamom. The cardamom goes in the bread dough, while the cinnamon goes in the filling. Maggie also puts her piece of bread down and you can’t tell me she didn’t polish it off, it looked delicious.
Back in the shed, the bakers are trying to pronounce kanellängd, which is the Swedish name for the bread, which is a complete disaster, punctuated by the line of the night from Carmel: I think that’s how Abba would say it. Callling it now, we need a Swedish week, just so we can have more Abba references.
Meanwhile, Mel is going around asking the bakers who their best friend in the shed is. Blessing mentions Hoda and someone else before Mel hints that maybe it should be Mel, but Nav knows where she’s going immediately – “It has to be Claire.”
Oh, you want me to talk about the baking? Nav was ahead of everyone else from the start, there were no issues there. Meanwhile, Aaron and Hoda had different approaches to fixing mistakes. Aaron decides to start again from scratch and stresses himself out, saying “I make a breakdown look fabulous,” and “the sky is crying because I can’t right now,” while Hoda added cinnamon to her dough instead of cardamom and just keeps going. Spoiler alert, it works out a lot better for Aaron than it does Hoda. He knows exactly what he did wrong and that he needs to restart. Hoda already admitted she’s not a bread person and I’m still mad about that empty calories comment a week later. It’s a technical challenge and Aaron showed a lot more skill than Hoda.
So it comes to judging and the order from last to first is: Hoda, Ashley, Jawin, Carmel, Blessing, Haydn, Nurman, Aaron, Ella and Nav. Two things here: I’m absolutely thrilled for Nav, I think he’s been judged a little harshly so far. Also I knew he was a bread guy when he wanted to remove the air bubbles from his sponge batter. That’s such a bread guy move. The other is I’m really proud of Aaron. I wanted to wrap him in a warm blanket and comfort him, but he emerged triumphant.
It’s time for tea and it’s a nice change to see Haydn and Nav on the list of people who are doing well. Aaron is up there again after his excellent showstopper last week. Meanwhile Hoda, Ashley and Blessing are in trouble, and the judges specifically mention that they’re worried Blessing is trying to do too much.
Showstopper: Garden focaccia
This showstopper was an art/landscape/edible masterpiece challenge. Make a focaccia and decorate it into to something beautiful with vegetables!
Haydn went analogue with his focaccia making and had a bread tub. That takes me back to the days of working at Bakers Delight. His focaccia was a triptyc of harvest fields, decorated with beetroot, basil and capsicum, as well as a blueberry sky. The judges said it was visually stunning, and the dough was great with a good level of salt and a good crust.
Hoda made a dill and sea salt focaccia, decroated with the face of a woman. The judges loved how it looked, but there wasn’t quite enough height. There was good crunchiness and use of salt, but it needed to be thicker and they couldn’t taste the dill.
Ashley made a garden bed with roasted beetroot, capsicum and pumpkin, as well as salt dough ladybirds. The focaccia cut beautifully, had an amazing looking crust and fabulous dough. She’s done enough to save herself for the week and I’m relieved.
Aaron made a sunflower painting (for Maggie), which was inspired by Van Gogh. He made the flowers with yellow and orange capsicum, and he also made a frame from grissini. Also his sourdough starter is called “The mother gum,” which is excellent. The judges said that the focaccia was perfect with a fabulous rise. It looked beautiful and the sourdough starter added another dimension “like an unpasteurised cheese,’ in Maggie’s words.
Blessing had a giant pile of vegetables on her bench that she turned into her dad’s garden. When Matt and Maggie went to her bench, they asked if she was going to use all the vegetables and warned her that they’d add a lot of liquid. Blessing also made another pesto with parsley, basil, oregano and rosemary. The judges said that the focaccia was a bit damp. It didn’t have the rise and the flavours didn’t come through.
Nurman‘s purple flowers were mde fromm beetroot and onion. He also used oregano and rosemary to flavour his dough. Matt and Maggie said it was simple an elegant and a beautiful picture. The focaccia was nice and fluffy, the flavour was great and they loved the acidity.
Jawin made an Ode to Canberra, which I loved. You can always separate the public servants/public policy fans from everyone else when you talk about Canberra. I am a Canberra fan. My parents have just come up to Sydney for the weekend and they stayed in Canberra for two nights. Anyway, it had the Floriade ferris wheel and parliament house. Jawin used zucchini, onion, char siu and Chinese sausage for his flavours. Matt said it reminded him of the Easter show. The focaccia had good rise and colour and the flavour was outstanding.
The first thing we see from Ella in this challenge is her asking how to fold a focaccia. Cat, fold and spin is apparently the method. Anyway, she made a fairy garden with a mushroom shaped focaccia, decorated with capsicum fairies, toadstool and flowers. The judges said that it ate well and asked Ella to keep telling them stories.
Carmel made an antipasto vase that looked delicious. There were tearaway garlic salami swirls on the outside, grilled capsicum flowers and a pot made of prosciutto. The judges loved the scrolls, and Maggie started handing them out to people. They said it was fantastic.
Nav made a kids in the garden focaccia, decorated with tomato and capsicum. His focaccia dough was flavoured with sundried tomato, garlic and pecorino cheese. The judges said that he had two beautiful orange daughters. The flavour was great, but the sundried tomato made the focaccia too dense.
Other highlights from this challenge were Claire doing her own garden art by drawing on a capsicum, which is incredibly relatable, as well as the contestants turning the pina colada song into the focaccia song. This is the most I’ve enjoyed Haydn’s singing by a long way.
Over in the potting shed, Matt and Maggie said they loved the creativity, colour and stories from the showstoppers. Aaron and Haydn were in contention for Star Baker, while Blessing and Hoda were in trouble. Haydn was Star Baker, while Blessing went home. I’ll miss you Blessing, you were wonderful.
- Thanks for waiting nearly a week for this, I’ve been unexpectedly busy.
- And this week’s recap is also going to be late because my parents are visiting this weekend and I’ll be joining them once I’ve packed.
- I’m working on the picture situation. I hope I’ll have figured something out by next week.
- I love bread week!