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The Great British Baking Show Episode 3: Bread!

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Allison Robicelli will be recapping each episode, week-by-week. Catch the next one tomorrow, and tune in to the show on PBS.

Welcome to bread week, boys and girls! It’s a big one for personal revelations, so let’s jump right in.

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Chocolate Swirl Brioche
Chocolate Swirl Brioche

Signature Round: Chocolate Bread

If you know what you’re doing, breads stuffed with chocolate are a lot of fun to make. When you have only two and a half hours to do it, they’re not quite as fun. Everyone is anxious, except for everyone’s new favorite granny, Val, who is exuding confidence. Mary Berry was everyone’s old favorite granny, but she’s gotten way too commercial.

Most everyone is doing some sort of monkey bread, babka, or crown. The only one departing from this is Andrew, the young man from Northern Ireland. Andrew’s hair is a supernatural shade of orange that’s comparable to a radioactive carrot, and his skin is so pale that I’m nearly certain he’s bioluminescent. Looks aside, he’s an utterly adorable boy who makes me want to put on some sunglasses and hug the shit out of him. Paul questions Andrew’s chocolate Barmbrack bread, but it turns out to be quite good.

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Kindred's Milk Bread
Kindred's Milk Bread

Technical Round: Dampfnudeln

First, you should know that writing this recap took an hour longer than usual because I couldn’t figure out how to spell dampfnudeln for the life of me. But I fully intend to make them immediately, because they looks irresistible: balls of sweet dough steamed on the stovetop in a poaching liquid of milk and sugar. Their tops are light and fluffy and their bottoms richly caramelized, and to gild the lily they’re served with plum sauce and creme anglaise. I’d never heard of them before, and neither have the bakers, which is unfortunate because now they’re expected to make them perfectly with nothing but a basic list of ingredients and minimal instructions.

The predictable routine of fumbling and fretting ensues, but Girl Scout Kate appears almost unnaturally calm. When this is addressed, she says there’s no reason to be worried, that she has never tried her hand at this before, so no matter what, they’re going to be the best dampfnudeln she has ever made. What a genius perspective! Think of all the times your fear of failure keeps you from trying something new. Well, the next time that happens, I want you all to remember Kate and her fearless dampfnudel-ing. How she boldly forged ahead, knowing in her heart that the act of trying was, in itself, a success.

Know what wasn’t a success, though? Her dampfnudeln. They were both raw and burnt and totally sucked.

Joan Nathan's Chosen Challah
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Joan Nathan's Chosen Challah

Today I learned that “plaits” are what they call braids in Britain. This episode is just chock full of fun facts.

As if making a showstopping bread sculpture made of braids isn’t enough, the bakers must also use not one, not two, but three different types of flours. As Mary points out to Paul, no two flours rise or bake at the same rate, and braiding different doughs together will result in utter disaster. Of course, they don’t tell anyone this. More nefarious shenanigans: Paul states that this challenge is extra important because in every previous season the winner has gone to the final. If you go back to my recap of last year’s bread challenge, you’ll see this a complete and utter lie. (You should also check that episode on Netflix if you haven’t, because it’s one of the best episodes they’ve ever produced.)

Girl Scout Kate shows off her plans to make a bread version of a corn husk doll, and it looks completely bananas. I have, on more than one occasion, gotten my fingers trapped in my own hair while attempting a braid, so there is no way I could ever pull any of this off. She nails it, just has she did during last week’s showstopper, but still doesn’t win. Girl Scout Kate is now my favorite. Sorry, Andrew.

There’s some very nice entries from completely unmemorable people. Benjamina gets a “gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous” from Paul, but I honestly couldn’t tell you what she made and I took notes on this entire episode. Jane also made something nice. Sexybeast Selasi has gone from enthralling to boring and I might have to leave him for this week’s Star Baker, Tom, who has piercing blue eyes and wowed Paul and Mary with his seaweed-stuffed penis shaped bread.

Going home is Michael, who I’ve already forgotten about. The next episode—batter—should be a bit more exciting because it’s a theme they’ve never done before. I have absolutely no idea how exciting batter can possibly get, but if anyone can make extreme pancaking captivating, it’s this show.

Tags: bread, great british baking show, baking