Oh, Prue. Prue. I sympathise, I really do. We’ve all had that heart-shrinking, teeth-grinding ‘Nooooo!’ moment when we realise we have sent a message about a person to that person, or misdirected a work email, or foolishly texted an ex when drunk. You try, desperately, to recall the message you’ve put out into the ether, but it’s too late. Everyone has seen it. What is done cannot be undone.
I happened to be on Twitter when Prue casually revealed the winner of the Bake Off about nine hours before it actually aired, so I was ‘spoilered’ immediately. I didn’t really mind though. As anyone who knows me will know, I always want to know the end of everything. And I was glad that Sophie was our winner. It definitely seemed like the right choice out of the final three bakers.
I can’t quite believe I’ve managed to make it all the way through this year’s bake off bake along. It has involved a lot of rushed early morning baking in a panic. I’m glad I’ve limped through to the finish line, though, because it’s given me some very good weeks. Let’s not talk about the bad weeks. My particular favourites have been the peanut butter fondants and the cannoli. Happy days.
Fittingly, finals week was actually the trickiest week for me in terms of choosing a challenge. I didn’t have the kit (and I’m not sure I have the skill, to be honest) to go for an entremet. I wasn’t feeling inspired by the technical challenge. Ginger biscuits are fine, but very fiddly icing is not up my street – all about the look, not at all about the taste. So, somehow, making twelve loaves of bread started to seem like the sensible option.
I could have made my life slightly easier and done three full size loaves, or one batch of four small ones. But, in the end, I decided to make a proper go of it, safe in the knowledge that it will be at least a year before I put myself through this process again.
And actually, it went surprisingly well.
When you put your mind to it, it’s quite astonishing how much bread you can make in a morning. And because I was bound by the constraints of the Bake Off challenge – i.e. I had to make one spelt bread, one filled bread, and one shaped bread – I ended up making up some new recipes. Which I am often too lazy to do.
My final loaves were spelt boules with almonds and dates, wholemeal walnut loaves filled with blue cheese, and simple white plaits. I’ve never actually made a plaited loaf before, and even though it seems a bit pointless – since the fancy shape doesn’t in any way make the taste more interesting – I admit it was quite satisfying. I don’t think my bread would have been accused of being underproved or overworked. The walnut and blue cheese bread was stupidly delicious: James and I ate an embarrassing amount of it very quickly. And I’ve always liked baking with spelt, and fruit and nut bread is very satisfying. So, three thumbs up. If I had three thumbs. You know what I mean.
I’m not going to post the recipes here because three recipes in one post would be a bit much. Also, I was kind of winging it. But if you are particularly interested in any of the three, do let me know and I will send a recipe your way.
Goodbye for now, Bake Off. See you next year. I hope. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with all my free weekend time now. I mean, probably still baking, to be honest. But in a less structured way.