Bread week on The Great British Bake Off started with a request from the judges for 12 identical bread rolls made with rye flour. I really do think that getting everything to look exactly the same is basically the opposite of home baking! I’ve never used rye flour before and honestly when I’ve tried rye bread I did not like it all, but the bakers were adding some interesting flavours that made it sound a lot more appetising. Rye is a healtheir alternative to regular wheat flour, however because of this it has a low gluten content and as Paul tells us it is “extremely difficult to work with” as you have to work the dough much more than usual to build up the gluten.
Most of the bakers stuck to fairly traditional flavour combinations such as Kate’s Orange & Cardamom Rolls, Martha’s Date & Walnut Rolls, and Jordan’s Lemon & Poppyseed Rolls. Diana and Chetna went down the savoury route with Cheese & Walnut Rolls and Onion & Pine Nut Rolls. It was Luis who really experimented with flavour with his rolls which contained two types of dough; one flavoured with Fennel & Parsnip and the other with Coffee & Chocolate.
The rye rolls needed steam in the oven to stop them from drying out. Because of the dark colour of the dough, and the egg washes added by the bakers, it was difficult to tell when they were done baking. Nancy’s, Martha’s and Richard’s were under baked. Iain finally did well, I was pleased for him and I think it is clear that bread is his strongest area. The judges loved Luis’ flavour combination and overall bake. Kate also did very well.
Of course for the technical challenge it couldn’t be anything except a Paul Hollywood recipe! And this week it was Ciabatta. Crisp on the outside and filled with air holes on the inside, this Italian bread requires patience to make according to Paul. No proving time was given, and despite an instruction to prove at room temperature, some of the bakers put it in the proving drawer.
They had trouble handling the sloppy dough and turning it into something ‘ciabatta shaped’ without knocking all the air out of it. When Paul and Mary tried the Ciabatta’s it was clear that putting them in a proving drawer and/or handling it too much was not a good idea as it made them flat and more like pitta bread. Kate, who waited the longest to prove her dough, won the challenge. Luis, Martha and Norman also did well. Jordan came last with Iain and Chetna in ninth and eighth place.
This week’s showstopper was a filled bread centrepiece. It had to be spectacular both inside and outside, and taste delicious too. Paul warned against using too much moisture as this can cause large air holes in the bread. Luis, Norman and Richard all went for Meditteranian flavours such as roasted vegetables, pesto and saffron to fill their breads. Jordan was the only baker doing a sweet bread, with his Strawberry & Raspberry Cheesecake Brioche.
I really liked Martha’s Sunflower Bread. The middle was filled with Epoisses cheese, and the ‘petals’ with fig and apricot chutney. It sounded delicious and looked great! Nancy made a Full English Stromboli which sounded amazing but sadly didn’t have a very impressive apperance.
I love how matter of fact and old school Norman is, I absolutely love him! Best quote of the episode from him was “for me, this is very exotic, you know – pesto”. Bless him! Iain made a fantastic Moroccan Plait which Paul called a ‘success’.
Jordan left us this week. He came last in the technical and his showstopper was very underbaked. Mary said that he was a creative and flamboyant baker, and she was sad to see him go. Next week – desserts! And it looks like a rather dramatic episode!
Bread is probably one of my more weaker areas in baking so I do like to try the technical challenges in order to learn more about bread and get more experience. So I decide to try Ciabatta this week. As you will see the shape of my Ciabattas did not come out very neatly! But it tasted good and I enjoyed making them. If you’d like to give it a go, here’s what I did…
I used a Paul Hollywood recipe, which I think it is the same one the baker’s used. So I started with strong white bread flour, yeast and salt in my food mixer bowl. Then I added olive oil and tepid water.
I oiled a 5 litre square tub, then set the mixture to combine with the dough hook attachment on a slow speed for a minute or two as I poured in tepid water slowly. I then turned the food mixer up to a medium speed and mixed it for 8 minutes.
When it was done the dough was very stretchy.
I poured it into the oiled tub, covered it with a tea towel, and left it to prove at room temperature for 2 hours.
It rose a lot! The 5 litre tub was almost full.
I covered my work top very generously with flour and semolina before tipping the dough out onto it. The dough ‘slopped’ onto the work top and it was very difficult to cut it into strips as it was so sticky and light. I had to keep sprinkling flour between the cuts I was making to make sure the pieces stayed apart.
I had to use my cake lifter to get the pieces of dough onto the baking sheet. It was a very tricky operation and left me with messy looking strips of dough. I was tempted to neaten them up, but I was terrified of pushing too much air out of them! I left them to rest for 10 minutes.
They baked for 25 minutes, until golden brown.
Obviously the shape of my ciabatta was far from perfect, but there were a decent amount of air holes when I cut into. Who knows what Paul Hollywood would think, but I was satisfied with it for a first attempt! Most importantly, it tasted good! Ciabatta is fab dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or used as a sandwich bread filled with grilled vegetables and cheese.
The traditional Italian bread
- 500 g Strong White Bread Flour
- 10 g Fast Action Yeast
- 10 g Salt
- 40 ml Olive Oil
- 400 ml Tepid Water
- Flour & Semolina to dust
Put the bread flour, yeast and salt into a food mixer bowl
Add the olive oil and 300ml of the tepid water
Oil a 5 litre square tub
Set the mixture to combine with the dough hook attachment on a slow speed for a minute or two
Pour in the remaining tepid water slowly
Turn the food mixer up to a medium speed and mix for 8 minutes
Pour the dough into the oiled tub, cover with a tea towel, and leave to prove at room temperature for 2 hours
Cover your work top very generously with flour and semolina before tipping the dough out onto it
Cut into four strips without handling the dough too much
Put the strips onto lined baking trays
Leave to rest for 10 minutes
Bake on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 25 minutes, until golden brown
Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place and eat within 2 days