Rolling, Glazing, Jammin’ And Oh, NUTS: The Great British Bake Off Episode Eight

It's advanced dough week and we're so excited we might actually be sick, but that might just be the entire packet of HobNobs we ate whilst watching


by Debrief Staff |
Published on

It’s the quarter finals of The Great British Bake Off, and we’re down to the final five. The famous five! Last week’s challenges brought many disappointments, but like that other famous Five, our quintet of bakers have to get on up when they’re down, baby, take a good look around… and keep on moving on anyway.

Wait, which famous Five did you think I was talking about?


No more flighty Euro themes or flaky concepts – this week, we’re made of sturdy stuff. It’s advanced dough week.

Given that the original dough week featured Martha’s whole cheese baked inside a loaf of bread, Norman’s first foray into the uncharted waters of pesto and Luis sticking gold leaf on his olives, we can only imagine this ‘advanced’ level will end with the bakers crafting their own animated clones out of brioche, who must then go back in time and kill their own grandfathers.

Because it’s the quarter final now, everyone is taking things a little more seriously. We know this, because they are playing some serious music. Martha is haunted by her eclairs, Richard is worried the curse of star baker will trip him up him a third time, and Nancy thinks 'it’s important that you go in and execute everything perfectly,' which might mean she’s getting her tiny guillotine out again.

We’re kicking things off with fruit bread. It sounds deceptively simple but is apparently very hard because it involves ‘enriched dough’, which means the heavy fruit could weigh down the yeast and stop everything rising. Doreen never had these problems with her Soreen.

Luis has gone fully Enid Blyton with a cherry tree made of Bath buns (what ho!) while Chetna has taken inspiration from Croatia, with a fruit bread that sounds like pizza but isn’t a pizza. Putizza? Potiza? Povitica? I’d just make a pizza if I were you, Chetna. Everyone loves pizza, whereas your thing has walnuts in it.

Appealing yet again to the half-arsed Harrys and Slovenly Susans among us, Nancy is skipping the arduous proving process and microwaving her dough instead. 'That’s a very dangerous thing to do,' says Paul, oracle of doom. But Nancy feels the fear and does it anyway, which is why she is our queen.

Martha is creating ‘Christmas crossed with Chinese New Year, in a bread’ – a flavour combination I can personally vouch for because my family has a Chinese takeaway every Christmas Eve. While drinking mulled wine. Next to a cinnamon scented candle. In a clear attempt to bridge the generational gap between herself and the judges, she’s putting prunes in it too – which sadly backfires when her loaf comes out of the oven looking like a comedy poo.

Onto the judging, and Nancy’s Lincolnshire plum braid has expanded like something Rick Moranis might invent in a film. But her crafty shortcut turns out to be a fast track into Paul’s bad books, and the loaf is too squidgy inside.

Proof that you can’t polish a turd but you can glaze it in apricot jam, jammy Martha earns praise for her lumpen loaf, while Chetna subjects Paul to the cinnamon challenge and just about gets away with it. Luis and Richard are both vying for the title of Lord Fancy Pants with their beautifully presented bakes; Richard gives good nuts with his Swedish tea ring (we call them ‘Party Rings’ over here), but by hiding a booze-soaked sugar cube in each of his buns, Luis has truly proved himself to be Enrichie Rich of dough week.

Can boozy sugar cubes be a thing now, please? 'Brb just "enriching" my lunch!' I will trill, popping a row of gin-soaked lumps into my lunchtime panini.

READ MORE Puff, Gooey Chous and a Pastry They Just Made Up: The Great British Bake Off Episode Seven

Dough ja vu

Next, a first in the history of Bake Off: the obscure thing Chetna made for her signature bake is also the obscure thing they’ve got to make for the technical challenge! She’s out-obscured Paul and Mary! She’s foiled them at their own confusing game!

(Obscure, unless of course you are from Croatia, home of the povitica, in which case I apologise. Perhaps you eat povitica every day. I’m just bitter; all I’ve got in my baking heritage is Sussex pond pudding.)

We don’t know much about this nutty, swirly bready confection, but we do know that the secret to its success is long dough. Very long dough.

What follows is a series of short monologues around the theme of ‘very long dough’. Readers of a classy disposition may wish to look away now

Chetna: 'It’s doubled in size, and that’s all I wanted.'

Luis: 'As large as you can… that’s where the clue is.'

Nancy: 'It probably needs to be the length of this cloth.'

Richard: 'I am going to go as big as I can.'

Nancy: 'That’s as big as I dare go without ripping it.'

The next challenge presented by the povitica is spreading the walnut and cocoa filling across the dough – a trick that Martha has mastered using cling film, and Nancy has nailed with her old friend Mr Microwave. If there’s not a sponsorship deal with Panasonic in this for her, it’s a crime.

Chetna has the advantage of literally saying, ‘Here’s one I made one earlier’, so it’s hardly surprising she’s the only one who gets it right. Everyone else fails to bake their breads for long enough in the stingy timeframe, and they’re all raw in the middle. Paul enjoys this immensely; telling people their bakes are raw is his favourite thing. Even better than underrrrproooved. 'I wouldn’t eat that, Mary!' he warns, assigning himself designated guardian of Mrs Berry’s delicate stomach.

She is woman, hear him: raw.

Doughs and don’ts

Finally, we’re back from the abyss and nestled warm in the bosom of a bake we’ve ALL heard of: doughnuts. Technically they’re a fry, not a bake, but when there are Baileys-filled syringes in the vicinity, who are we to be pedantic?

Martha is using laminated dough to make a cross between a croissant and a doughnut (if you’re thinking ‘Er, don’t you mean a cronut?’, it’s actually illegal to say the c-word on the BBC), while Nancy has thrown all caution to the wind and is busy icing grumpy Paul Hollywood faces onto her chocolate rings. Perhaps Nancy isn’t actually a contestant at all, just the manifestation of Paul’s repressed conscience. He probably wakes in a cold sweat in the night, dreaming she’s plunging his face into a deep fat fryer.

Meanwhile, Richard is playing up to his role of Default Tent Hunk and making 'affair-inspired doughnuts.' Oh no, wait– 'FAIR-inspired doughnuts.' It’s OK Paul, you can come back! He just meant toffee apples, not saucy infidelity!

Richard may be giving Mary his doughnuts hearts but, of course, we all know she doesn’t want romancing – she wants a wee nip of the stronger stuff. Luis provides it by sticking a straw straight into the boozy heart of his doughnut, a move I plan to replicate immediately on anything with a liquid filling. Profiteroles. Scotch eggs. Chicken and mushroom pies. Lovely.

**READ MORE: Caramel Castles, Continental Drift and the Princess and the Pea Green Cream Cake: the Great Briitsh Bake Off Episode Six **

Dough, a dear

Poor Martha’s doughnuts taste great, but she’s over-proved everything and her laminated dough is as flat as… well, the other kind of laminated. Chetna’s South African twirls are too syrupy, and her chocolate doughnuts not moussey enough. Tip: they should consider taking alternate bites of each, to balance out the moisture levels.

Nancy has delivered on flavour but fallen down on proving yet again, while Merry Berry’s the one falling down after a round of Luis’ Irish cream dreams. In the end though, the judges just can’t resist the fun of the fair, and Bricky Dicky is star baker for the FOURTH time. A quadruple run! It’s a hat-trick… with another hat on top for good measure!

Then, alas, the average age of the marquee increases significantly as it’s home time for lovely Martha –the closest thing modern entertainment has to a Malory Towers character. It’s OK though, the internet informs me that since departing the tent she’s been made Head Girl at school. Jolly good show old bean! That’s better than a book deal, right?


Next week: We’ve got a very stiff semi… final, you absolute perverts.

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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