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American Baking Competition Review: Bread Week Blunders

Last week we said goodbye to firefighter Jeremy. Only seven bakers remain, and this time they have to tackle what judge Paul Hollywood is apparently known for: bread!

Bread is pretty finicky due to environmental factors and the quality of ingredients, so even if these guys make great bread at home it’s possible to have complete failure in the tent kitchen. I’ve had professional bread lessons and I still have trouble at home sometimes, so good luck bakers!

For the signature bake, the contestants must make a freeform, hand-shaped bread of their choosing.

American Baking Competition Host

Effie is making challah, and if her home interview is any indication, it’s going to be gorgeous. I’m looking forward to Darlene’s pesto bread as well, even though Marcella comments how “weird” it is that she isn’t using pine nuts. Marcella has obviously never spent time on food blogs. Francine insists on going weird with crushing up Red Hots and pecans for her bread… sorry, but that sounds terrible. I’ll take James’s prosciutto and pepperoni bread instead.

Brian complains about the mixer bowl (a gorgeous glass KichenAid bowl, by the way) and then in his home interview tells us how great he is at exercising. Then he goes a step further by trying to appeal to the judges for Star Baker. Maybe stop making things they don’t like, Brian? Also probably stop saying stuff like “I’ve been very humble.”

Most of the bakers do really well, although both Kolette and (surprisingly) Effie’s breads are underbaked and get manhandled by Paul to prove it. Harsh, Paul.

Soft pretzels are up next for the technical challenge, using the limited instructions they should be used to now. Everyone except Francine appears to have issues forming the pretzels, and then many of them have issues with the boiling process.

Brian stares lovingly (read: creepily) at his pretzels while James manages to burn his fingers trying to quickly transfer them from pan to hanging rack, and from the voiceover it seems he runs out of time to get all eight on the rack. He suffers by getting last place during the rankings. Darlene does the best, making her two for two in bread today.

The showstopper is, of course, croissants! Laminated dough is pretty time-consuming, so they get two hours one day and three hours the next. They fold and fold and fold dough into the darkness, each of them waxing poetic about their fate thanks to how they did on the previous challenges. I really don’t want James or Effie to go home, but they seem to be the ones most on the line.

Elaine put her dough in the freezer instead of the fridge, which might be disaster. Kolette put in twice as much butter for her dough, and all I can think is that they will be an oozy mess. She also appears to be smooshing her filled croissants to death before baking, which will really kill the flaky layers.

Thankfully James knocks it out with his croissants, but much to my disappointment Brian also does well. Darlene grabs Star Baker, though, thanks to her success on all the challenges.

Glittery Kolette is headed home, and she interviews that she can’t wait to see her cats. Maybe the cats like underbaked breads? I know mine are fans of crackers.

Next week: The contestants work on fruit and cream filled cakes. Francine rants about Brian and we might get a throwdown! Finally.

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