Zip yourself into your sourdough onesie and relax into your ciabatta couch, because it’s Bread Week, my little GKBO doughballs of happiness. Tara Ward power-ranks episode four.
Bread is both delicious and a science, which means eating lots of it makes you smarter. Don’t question me, my research is flawless and if anyone needs me I’ll be in the par-baked roll aisle at your nearest Countdown.
This week’s Technical Challenge was a Braided Challah, a four stranded piece of bread. It was a task more complex than the time our bakers had to turn a sponge into a tree, so imagine their joy when Dean asked them to also make lemon curd and butter. What is pressure, without another heavy layer of stress chucked on top, covered in a thick coating of sheer panic and then drizzled in a sickly stream of flaming anxiety to finish?
The mood was tense. Our bakers were staring directly into the firey gates of carbohydrate hell, but Dean advised them just to “keep things tight”. Be right back, just off to get those timeless words of wisdom tattooed across my own set of overbaked buns.
The second challenge was a scone showstopper like no other. Our bakers went batshit crazy, chucking in everything from pepperdew to mandarin to Lebkuchengewurz, whatever the FleischlSchneider that is. Condiments were drizzled and smeared all over the kitchen, and the Lord of the Rolls was not impressed. I mean, Clayton was making scone sandwiches, ffs.
“It’s a scone challenge, not a chutney challenge,” Dean scowled. For the last three weeks Dean’s been as solid as a two-day old baguette, but this week his true feelings seeped out like the ganache on Sonali’s chocolate log. Nobody pisses around with a scone and gets away with it, but Dad wasn’t angry. He was just disappointed:
Let’s cheese ‘n bacon roll into this week’s power rankings.
“I always thought it’d be nice to go out on a disaster,” Vanessa said, and tonight her dream came true. She might be the Mayor of Disastertown, but the lovely Vanessa departed on a high. She vowed to get boozed afterwards, and the spotlight gave her a halo like the true baking angel that she is. I’ll miss Vanessa. Scone, but not forgotten.
“Bummer!” Hannah said, after she came last in the Technical Challenge, even though she nearly died making her own butter. She puffed, she sweated, she was persistence personified and did her Challah Bread thank her for it? It did not. Bummer, indeed.
For someone who’d never made bread before, Stacey played a brave game by taking on the entire foundation of Western society with her classic ‘Battle of the Sexes’ scone situation. As Stacey separated her Man Scones from her Lady Scones, I held my breath in anticipation for the patriarchy to be finally taken down in a gluggy mix of tomato and smoked cheddar.
Sadly, the revolution was not won in a single bake. But Stacey did add so much salt to her butter that Duchess Sue let out a naughty giggle, which in my opinion was worth a thousand hot Lady Scones.
Jeff was nearly toast after his dough strands were “undefined” (WTF) and his scones were “underbaked” (OMG). For the love of all things warm and yeasty Jeff, JUST KEEP IT TIGHT.
Banish thy chutney from thy kingdom, Larissa, and never let that tomato sludge darken your door again. Larissa’s sticky buns were sticky and her pinwheel scones were pinwheely and if I were John the Rabbit I’d be rolling over and wiggling my tiny paws in doughy ecstasy. Alas, I am only human. Let’s move on.
I love a good scone sandwich as much as I love a t-shirt covered in iceblocks, and Clayton delivered on both counts this week. He pushed the sconevelope with his choice of baking (“they’re not as bad as they look,” Dean said), but at the end of the day he was just a man, standing in front of a pinwheel scone, asking it to love him.
Joel refuses to stress, can’t be arsed reading the recipe and has no idea what he’s supposed to be baking. And he nails it, every single time, with ye olde flavour combos that hark back to a simpler, more innocent New Zealand. “That’s the way I like my scones,” Joel said. “Plain, like my personality”.
How is this happening? How can someone so chill about baking be so bloody good? “It seems like he’s off with the fairies,” Madeleine reckoned, which could be the secret to Joel’s success. Is less really more, and how much more ‘less’ can Joel do?
She’s only 18, but Annabel’s already schooling a bunch of grown men on how to follow instructions. Long may you reign, Queen.
STAR BAKER: Sonali
“I could sniff this all day,” Dean said, as he lifted Sonali’s winning loaf to his face and inhaled all her sweet, bready goodness. Sonali kicked carbohydrate arse this week, baking her way to crusty glory by winning the Technical Challenge and slaying the scone competition. I too would like to sniff Sonali’s buns all day, because she’s on a roll, she’s the toast of the tent, she’s the best thing since sliced bread.
Join The Spinoff Members for as little as $1 to help us hire more journalists and do more investigations. Or get a free Toby Morris-designed tea towel when you contribute $80 or more over a year.
The Spinoff Daily gets you all the days' best reading in one handy package, fresh to your inbox Monday-Friday at 5pm.