Bake Off: Bread Week (#GGBO)

Great British Bake Off fever has gripped the nation again, and I’ve decided to do a mini series of posts linked to the show. I’m hoping I’ll develop some new baking skills and that it will encourage me to try some new things. I’m going to take inspiration from the theme of the show each week (bread, desserts, pies etc) and try baking something that I’ve never made before. I’m not brave enough to promise to attempt any of the challenges that they do on the show – I’m just not that good! But by the time we reach the final, hopefully I’ll have extended my repertoire slightly and learned a few things.

Making bread

Well I already missed Cake Week, but I’ve decided that’s ok as cakes are pretty much the only things I ever bake anyway. So I’m starting this series with Bread Week. All I can say is that I have never ever attempted to bake bread. It just seemed like an awful lot of effort for results that are not as delicious as cakes. I’ve even got a signed copy of Paul Hollywood’s Bread book, which has only ever been looked at! So my baking project for the week was very simply to bake some bread. Not special bread – just bread. And I chose to make the white bloomer loaf from Paul Hollywood’s book.

Actually I should say that this book is really very good for a beginner. It makes it very clear what the pitfalls for a bread newbie are likely to be, and tells you how to avoid them, and I think I ended up with a half-decent looking loaf! Here’s what I learned:

  • There are very few ingredients in bread, and it doesn’t take long at all to make the dough. I mixed by hand (inspired by Paul).
Bread dough
  • I kneaded by hand using Paul’s technique, and because he says beginners often don’t knead long enough I kept going for longer than suggested. This was the right decision as the bread turned out well. Pretty tiring though, and I ached the day after!
  • It’s the proving stages that take all the time. But that’s fine as you can just be doing other things while you wait. And it’s fine to just prove at normal room temperature.
Bread proving
  • I knew I was on the right track when my I saw the size my dough had grown to after the first proving, and I was very happy when, after baking, I tapped on the base and heard the “I’m ready” hollow sound. This makes me feel confident that this book will be a good one for me to keep using – the instructions and oven temperatures etc all seem to be spot on.
  • I reckon I cut the slits in the top all wrong. I’ll do better next time!
Homemade bread
  • It was very difficult not to eat while warm (Paul suggests you need to let it cool completely). Our patience paid off though and I made some delicious sandwiches with it.
Homemade bloomer loaf
DIY bloomer bread
Homemade bloomer bread

Overall it was very delicious loaf indeed and I certainly feel much braver about trying other breads.

Apparently next week’s #GBBO is all about desserts… exciting!

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