Great British Bake Off S8:E03 Bread Week! Recap

It’s my favourite part of the whole season on the Great British Bake Off, it’s Bread Week woooooo! I love baking bread, I do it every other day and have yet to meet a bread I didn’t want immediately in my face. Let’s roll into it after the break, ha get it? We’re gonna roll okay you got it, here we go into our GBBO S8:E03 Bread Week Recap!

Last time we had a back to back Star Bakers for our talented Steven Carter-Bailey and sloughed some more dead weight in the shape of Chris Geiger going home. Oh, I’m kidding, he finished top 11, he and Peter last week are magic.

But as of now are both at home watching the shenanigans on the telly.

Hosts Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding introduce the challenge in fun hats and slightly less-funny bits (oh you know they were and that’s okay, the bits before were usually kind of —) and we’re on to our bakers!

Sophie Faldo has not been waiting for Bread Week with bated breath as Julia Chernogorova and I have, it’s not her forte. It’s right up Flo Atkins’ alley, she’s been baking bread for 4 decades but is now concerned she’s jinxed herself.

Stacey Hart makes bread for her family, it’s not the same as rolling out a couple for judge Paul Hollywood, is it?

*I also bake bread for my family, and with all the COVID madness I am scrambling to replace income and have applied for one million jobs, including as a baker. I know it’s not exactly the same, but I was a baker in a commercial kitchen when dinosaurs roamed the earth so wish me luck!

We don’t waste any time jumping into our Signature Challenge of the week, the bakers are directed to make 12 tea cakes in 2 hours and 45 minutes for breadmaster Paul and fellow judge Prue Leith.

The tricky thing about tea cakes is the enriched dough; the extra fat tends to inhibit the rise. They also have to make sure the dried fruit is distributed evenly, if the dough is too thin everything sinks to the bottom.

Kate Lyon and her blueberry buns.

Liam Charles didn’t know what a tea cake was and know he are one! Okay, he’s making Jamaican-inspired ones with…Irish beer. Okay!

I love watching James Hillier knead dough, it’s very soothing. I will be making my basic sourdough tomorrow, with probably less kneading. ANYWAY, he’s making a Nordic bun, basically the complete opposite of Liam’s.

Oooh now everyone’s kneading, woooo! It’s so relaxing, honestly, it’s partly why I bake bread. The other part is three growing boys who love toast more than breathing.

Julia’s been married three years, aww, she seems so young. I am sorry that I was happy to see she’s married to someone close to her own age, I think I’ve been reading too many 90 Day Fiancee tweets lately.

I know I mentioned that Sophie was in the army, but she’s retired from there and is now training to be a stuntwoman. I bring it up because this is the first time I’ve realised how tall she is, she’s much higher above her workbench than some of the others and I’m guessing kneading isn’t as relaxing for her.

Just…everyone’s dough is so wet. Maybe sprinkle some flour on the board, there you go, love.

Time to proof the dough! Remember Paul and Prue told us it needed to proof a little longer than usual dough because of the fat.

*I’m going to call it proofing even though they call it proving because there’s no judgement here, only love.

Steven is using vodka in his butter and I am sad.

I like Yan Tsou and I dig that she rides a scooter to work (were there not any Vespas?) but I would not like to eat any of her tea cakes, thank you very much.

Flo likes bread week because bakers typically spend a lot of it sitting around, but it’s making our Scot Tom Heatherington worried. It’s just that every other week you’re working on decorations or something and here, all you have to do is let your yeasted dough rise gently. It’s magic.

She’s got booze in her jam again! I’m not having sammies with her ever, I’ll be kneewalking by 3!

Tom is baking his tea cakes in a very precise fashion, even as he adds white chocolate and I sigh deeply.

Stacey makes bread weekly for her family (like…once? A week? Is it all that burnt challah we see in the vignette?), she likes a bit of fruit on top of her tea cake even if literally nobody else does.

Everyone re-proofs their dough loaded with fruit as long as possible, Flo who cracks first and pulls hers out for baking. Ah poor Steven, his are flat and fallen, perhaps over-proofed?

There’s only one minute left but Stacey’s still got her buns in the oven, they’re not ready! No time, we’re on to juddddggginngg!!

Kate is up first with her slighly over-baked blueberry buns

James gets kudos for his excellent texture and precise proofing, fantastic flavours. Do not sleep on James, he’s an excellent baker.

Remember what I said about the fruit being buried within the dough? Liam left his to fall willy nilly and Prue chides him gently but the real problem? Raw tea cakes.

I didn’t think Flo’s buns were quite dark enough, but she gets dragged for everything from not enough salt to an oven set too low. Leave Flo alone!

Sophie’s are well baked but lack flavour.

I like the orange whatsit on Tom’s tray, Paul has a slight problem with the lack of fruit but calls it the closest thing to a tea cake he’s had so far. I immediately feel bad for everyone who’s gone before and I hope they didn’t hear that. Fun fact: there are not tea cakes in Scotland.

Alright Stacey! She looks so worried, not helped by Paul’s “I think you’ve baked it okay” as an opening salvo. Honestly. She does alright, look at me, Stacey! You’re a fantastic baker and this tent does things to your head and a bit of egg in your eggwash would have done wonders. YOU GOT THIS.

Julia gets middling reviews, good this and that but slightly under-proofed dough.

I want to want to eat Yan’s tea cakes. The judges enjoy them, aside from a bit of doughiness from the overload of fruit.

Did Steven’s turn out alright after the proofing disaster? They did not. He chose to use the oven for proofing which made sense for space, but the heat killed some of the yeast. By all accounts, the vodka butter is amazeballs. He has a real sense of display.

On to the Technical Challenge where the Gingham of Mystery shall take no prisoners. Bread baker Paul has set the challenge this week, he reminds the bakers that they expect perfection. Helpful! Off he and Prue toddle, Sandi and Noel fill us in on what we’re baking today. A cottage loaf!

You know, one of these!

Stacey and Flo know what it is at least, Steven and Sophie look stressed right out. I make most of my dough by hand (save a ciabatta and a cheese bread) but I’m guessing not everyone does as people are squawking about their hands hurting already. Toughen up, buttercups!

Wait, I think I said everyone should be kind. You’re fine, just keep going!

What’s interesting to me is the great variance in proofing times chosen by the bakers. We’ve got everything from 40 minutes to an hour. They’re all using the same ingredients and baking the same bread. Some bakers like James don’t know what the rise is supposed to look like but I can’t say I like Kate asking Steven if hers looks right. We know what it says in bold red letters at the top of the page, Kate!

Some of the dough is done the first proof, now it’s time to split it into two parts of unequal sizes but nobody’s quite sure how exactly how to do that. The key to joining the loaves is to drive two floured fingers down to the bottom a couple of times, I almost gagged watching Stacey do that. Go easy, lady, this here’s a family show.

Kate’s going to hurt herself if she doesn’t stop rubbernecking around like that.

Flo and Julia seem to be the closest so far but James and Yan are in trouble. Their dough is sad and laying down. We’ve got a couple of bakers steaming their loaves (I do this with my sourdough!), everyone is baking because we’ve less than 45 minutes to go.

All bakers are crouched down staring in their ovens, nobody wants their top to pop off like…Kate’s.

That’s why the two-finger action that Stacey demonstrated so graphically for us.

There are only five minutes left so a bevy of loaf bottom tapping is followed by the sound of 10 ovens being cranked to their highest heat. Every single loaf is left in the oven until after the 1 minute call. I don’t remember it being so tight before!

Time for judging:

From last to least worst:

  • 10th – Kate – no finger action
  • 9th – James – wet dough
  • 8th – Yan – tough and flat
  • 7th – Flo – underproofed and underbaked
  • 6th – Sophie – underbaked and wet inside
  • 5th – Liam – decent
  • 4th – Tom – underbaked but well done
  • 3rd – Steven – decent
  • 2nd – Julia – well done
  • Woooooo Stacey wins the Technical!! She needed that boost of confidence

We’re on to the Showstopper Challenge, what are we doing today? We’re making a coloured bread sculpture because of course we are! Four and a half hours, we’re away, making our sculptures with at least three naturally sourced colours.

Flo is using squid ink in her Davy Jones’ Locker theme.

Kate is too, damnit, lady, flour that board! It’s sticking over and over and now I’m watching through my fingers.

I like Liam’s!

It looks as though Sophie is sort of going the Steven-Chess-Game route with her intricate picnic basket, let’s see if I can be slightly less petty about hers.

But if there’s fondant, all bets are off.

Julia’s doesn’t look phallic whatsoever, stop saying that!

James’s owl will be yummy, he even manages to chop up some walnuts without me squawking.

Stacey is making the challah again…but woven so okay.

Tom’s making a flower garden!

I’ve not seen a baker using PlayDough to test a design before, but I like it, Yan!

Wet.dough. Hm. Yan says time management is her superpower, figuring she’ll have 15 minutes left over to sit around and now we’re all gravely concerned about an underbaked dragon on a coriander loaf.

WAIT. Steven is using Manchego and chorizo, and all my allegiance has shifted to the young man with the lisp and abundant facial hair.

We’ve got woven bread in the oven, I repeat, woven bread going into the oven! Disaster strikes Liam but my PVR cut out and I missed part, so sorry!

We cut to ten minutes left, I’m waiting for them to show me Yan sitting enjoying a cuppa but instead we’re rushing around assembling picnic baskets and the like. Everything looks so cool! Flo agrees.


Is Yan’s dragon underbaked or is that just me? Prue is sad he’s so little.

Lookit Liam’s!! The apricot flavour doesn’t carry through but everything else is fantastic if underproofed.

James’s saffron has overwhelmed his cinnamon and walnut. It’s extremely well baked except it tastes awful.

I adore Stacey’s hat and so does Prue. The challah is excellent (not burnt!) but the turmeric weav-y bit is underproofed. She looks devastated after.

Why did I think this was Tom’s? It’s clearly Steven’s. Paul calls it unbelievable so I stare at his hands waiting for the shake that is surely incoming.

Instead, Paul directs Steven to stand next to Prue and sits at Steven’s bench.

Clearly, Steven will win this season or die trying. I’m not sure he’ll get Star Baker this week with that wobble the first two challenges.

Flo’s work is amazing, even if Prue calls it clumsy. To be fair, she had to follow Steven’s masterpiece.

On to Kate’s squid-ink sculpture, how gorgeous?! She gets all the kudos for her excellent bake.

I was hoping to get a good overall shot of Sophie’s but here’s what I got. Paul isn’t impressed with her colouring and her dough is underdone.

Wow, I like Tom’s so much less than I thought I would.

Erm. Paul likes Julia’s snail? He’s brought to tears.

He pulls himself together, great flavour, excellent bake, nice crust. Really good bread, well thought-through design and now she’s crying.

The judges deliberate, and come up with some surprising answers:

Star Baker: Julia! Total shocker for me, I knew her obscene sculpture was delicious but she was completely under the radar for me.

Going home: Flo

Awwwww, she’s such an excellent baker, though! I thought her Davy Jones locker was amazing, boooooo. She’s not surprised but I think the issue was that everyone sort of did alright, you know? Nobody really scraped the bottom of the barrel except Steven that first day and his ridiculous handbag saved his behind in the Showstopper.

Until next week! Cheers!