GBBO 8: tears in the tent (not to mention the delicious. office)

GBBO 8: tears in the tent (not to mention the delicious. office)
After Bake Off virgin Hugh’s first foray into writing about the nation’s favourite (baking) soap last week, the obsessive is back. And I’m upset this morning. Yes, I am. Ever the fan of the modest (but also talented) contestant, I’m gutted to see the tearful departure of the sweet-natured Martha, with her air of innocence that belongs to a bygone age.

It’s farewell to Martha, GBBO’s youngest ever contestant

But, after weeks of cheery sweetness, where she blossomed in confidence, not to mention doing some excellent baking, the 17-year-old’s time had come. You can’t serve a loaf that’s raw in the middle, followed by over-proved doughnuts, and go through to the semi-finals of the Great British Bake Off.

BUT, on that topic, I have an issue with old blue eyes and Queen Mary. What’s all this getting contestants to bake things that, quite plainly, there isn’t enough time to make? Not to mention fancy-pants bakes that no one in the country (apart from Chetna) has ever heard of? I’m talking about the povitica, a sweet, enriched-dough loaf of such complexity that it has about as much appeal as foam three ways on a fine-dining dinner plate. The technical challenge needed two proper proves, but even Chetna – who’d made it before, of course, and knew an hour in the oven was essential – realised the only thing for it was to cut the time of the second prove. Hmmmm. I call it setting people up for a fall – which, of course, makes great TV. Slices of swirly madness completely raw in the middle, just waiting for Mr H to plunge in his finger and pull out the doughy goo lurking in the centre? Viewers love it.  

So what did we learn this week?

– That you can prove bread in a microwave (thanks, Nancy). Despite Paul’s sinister warning that it can destroy the protein structure of the flour, it seemed to work. And, as Sue pointed out, if you microwave-prove the dough, 500g of flour grows into a loaf big enough to feed a village. 
– That you can make doughnuts in the shape of a heart (thank you, Richard, you old romantic). 
– That Mary’s a bit of a lush (Paul might not have been a fan, but she was swooning for Luis’s cocktail doughnuts with a shot of Baileys in the top).
– And, of course, we were reminded that Sue is the master of the corny but brilliant line (“Hope your Croatian loaves don’t split”).
If you want to have a go at making doughnuts just as good as the ones on last night’s GBBO, here’s the recipe. One just isn’t enough…
And before I sign off, I couldn’t believe it when a press release arrived in my inbox yesterday telling me about a new range of merchandise created on the back of Iain’s Bingate. Fast work from notonthehighstreet. I guess you can’t blame them…

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