Another episode of The Great British Bake Off and another week of puns and innuendos... This is, of course, part of the Bake Off's charm but for a contestant it acts as a welcome break from the stress and tension of filming. When I walked into that tent for the very first time I was a bag of nerves, but as soon as Sue and Mel started bantering I instantly relaxed and it seems to be doing the job for this year's contestants.
This week was all about bread challenges, from flatbreads to bagels, which the contestants seemed to handle well - whilst there was the odd dodgy bake, there were no real disasters.
For me, bread week was all about making a good impression on Paul - bread is his thing and doing well in this week marks you out as someone to watch.
Baking bread is one of the show’s trickier tasks as the time allotted is very short; baking a white loaf in two hours as they did in the technical challenge is very hard - it takes time and rushing is risky.
But the one benefit the bakers have is a proofing drawer – a nice warm environment which helps the bread rise. It’s very different from baking at home in the kitchen as the tent can be a cold place and it takes a couple of weeks to feel at home.
Add to that the stress from Paul and Mary whilst you’re baking and it’s a tough experience. Paul has a habit of wandering around the tent and glancing over with a questioning look but not saying anything, which makes you constantly wonder if you've done something wrong.
So who stood out? Who should we be watching? Well, in my mind there were three or four bakers who made an impression. John opted for a flavoursome chilli and corriander roti and was named ‘star baker’ after his eight-strand plaited loaf won the technical challenge.
And Shetlands-based James instantly stood out with his use of sourdough, which he apparently started baking with aged 12 – impressive! Making sourdough takes so many more hours than regular bread baking, so no wonder Paul was impressed by the bagels he knocked up in four hours.
Cathryn seems like a solid, consistent baker which will stand her in good stead. Paul and Mary are looking for an all-round baker so doing well each week is very important.
And this week’s dark horse has to be the unassuming Brendan, who quietly worked away to produce an intriguing middle-eastern taboon flatbread, baked on hot stones - an adventurous choice with an interesting twist.