It was the scariest week so far in The Great British Bake Off, as the amateur bakers tried to rise to the occasion for bread week.


Our hopefuls were tasked with a tear and share signature, a burger-based technical and one of the toughest and most artistic showstoppers we’ve ever seen on the show.

But what’s it really like to take on bread under the steely gaze of bread master Paul Hollywood? We asked columnist and Bake Off 2017 winner Sophie Faldo to share her thoughts...

“Bread Week is the scariest week”

It was absolutely terrifying for me personally as this was the thing I was, by far, the least experienced in. Bread is the big thing as you’ve got Paul, and his knowledge of baking is absolutely at the top.

Paul is harsh in bread week, but he’s harsh every week, every year! He already knows what the issues are the moment he cuts into the loaf. If it seems like he was more brutal, a lot of that has to do with the editing. I’m pretty sure he’s like that all the time on the show.

“Big congratulations to Michael…”

Bake Off Michael (Channel 4)

Michael got the first Hollywood Handshake of the series for his tear and share, so big congrats. If he doesn’t make it all the way to the top he’ll go home knowing he got the Hollywood handshake, and that’s a special thing.

I got mine in my first week, which was a total shock because I was just trying to get used to everything. Paul was quite liberal with them in our season, but I think maybe he’s pulled it back a bit. If people feel he’s doing it too often, it loses its value, but he feels like it has to be something quite special for him to give it. It’s definitely one of those things which you do covet. I don’t know how it became a thing, but it was quite special to get one.

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Is this the dirtiest Bake Off we’ve ever seen?

I mean with all the baps and bun puns, you’re asking for trouble during bread week! But I wouldn’t say it’s dirty, it’s definitely still cheeky and light-hearted.

“The cutaways are all filmed in advance…”

We saw a cutaway of Steph working in a shop, but what people don’t know is that the producers can’t use strangers when filming as they’d have to reveal details about Bake Off – so they usually use friends or family or colleagues.

Right from the start when you have your telephone interview, you talk to the producers about what you like to do outside of work. You then put down a couple of things you think you can do something with as a cutaway – me for example, I said I was a track cyclist and a rower. When I said I was a track cyclist, producers were like, 'we’ve done stuff in a velodrome, can we put you on a river?' I said I didn’t really row anymore and they were like 'it’s fine'. They’re all filmed before we start the competition, but if you get through to the finals they film a little more.

“All the bakers have a few weeks left in them”

Bake Off Priya (Channel 4)

Michael had a mostly good week, as did Priya. This is the first week where I think everyone has got more to give. I don’t think you really have a good grasp of who the top bakers are until the semi-finals, because I think you are focusing on different aspects each week so you’re highlighting different skills. And especially with the group we have this year, I don’t think we’re going to be able to tell until much later on.

“Dairy week should be interesting…”

Dairy is so intrinsic to baking you don’t think to highlight it. I think it’s important to do something a little bit different every year and I think they’re probably running out of ideas. I absolutely love cheese and cream and use lots of it in my baking, so I think it’ll be a good one.


The Great British Bake Off continues Tuesday at 8pm on Channel 4