‘The Great British Baking Show’ Season 11, Episode 3 Recap: “Bread Week”

17 Min Read
Courtesy of 'The Great British Baking Show'

There are spoilers about the episode in this article.

Welcome back to The Great British Baking Show! This week is “Bread Week,” the most feared of all the weeks. This is because judge Paul Hollywood is the king of bread and he judges harshly. The bakers must compete in three challenges to try to earn the title of “star baker” and avoid being eliminated whilst being judged by Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.

Signature Challenge

The signature challenge this week asked the bakers to make two loaves of soda bread – one savory and one sweet. They could use any flavors they wanted but the loaves had to be made freeform (not in a tin). They had one hour and 45 minutes to make the two loaves and butter to go with them.

Several bakers were inspired by places for their flavors. Linda was inspired by Wales and made a cheddar, parmesan, and chilli savory loaf and was inspired by Welsh teacakes with her brandy-soaked dried fruit and mixed spice sweet loaf. There was a lovely moment where she used homemade money made by Mak, the contestant eliminated last week, because she knew he hadn’t had the chance to showcase it. The judges thought her savory loaf had a lovely flavor but unfortunately it needed longer in the oven. Similarly, her sweet loaf was soggy and because of the way her bread had been shaped, her fruit ended up all on the outside of the bread and burnt.

Rowan was inspired by Italy and made an Italian sausage, fennel, olives, and capers loaf and a polenta, lemon, and raisins loaf. The judges thought he was being a bit ambitious again with the amount of flavors he was including. Both of his loaves hadn’t quite risen enough and his savory loaf was criticised for his sausage being too big. His sweet loaf had too much polenta in, which made it gritty – or as Paul poetically said “like eating lemon drizzle cake in a sandstorm”.

Marc was inspired by Cornwall with his beetroot and Cornish kern loaf and chocolate and dried cranberries loaf, where he used mostly Cornish ingredients. His bake didn’t get off to a good start when he shook his buttermilk and the lid came off, leaving him covered in it. His loaves went down well, as they were delicious and rustic-looking. His only criticism was that the judges wanted a little more cranberry flavor in his sweet loaf.

Sura went with Middle Eastern inspired flavors with her za’atar and olive loaf and a dried fruit and walnut loaf. The judges thought her loaves were delicious, but unfortunately what stopped her loaves being perfect was that they were too pale. She needed to have cooked her loaves at a higher temperature to get them brown and crispy on the outside.

Lottie made a red onion and smoked applewood cheese loaf and a blueberry and maple bacon loaf despite Paul’s skepticism about her use of whole blueberries. He seemed concerned about the moisture from the fruit, which led to an amusing conversation that left Lottie guessing whether she should include more or less blueberries. However, the only criticism she received for her blueberries was that they weren’t evenly distributed through her loaf. Her loaves had a good texture and flavor, but the judges wanted more bacon flavor in her loaf as it was crumbled on top and most fell off.

Peter made a black pudding and walnut gluten free loaf and a ginger beer loaf. Unfortunately, the judges did not like his gluten free loaf because it was gluey in the mouth and falling to pieces – a large chunk had actually fallen off before judging. However, they loved the texture of his sweet loaf and the flavors of both. He also succeeded in making the judges feel old by telling them that the show had been around for more than half his life.

Hermine was the stand-out of this challenge. She made a smoked salmon and gruyere loaf and a cinnamon and dried fruit loaf. I was skeptical of the flavor combinations but surprisingly the judges loved them. They thought the salmon was amazingly original and was like a sandwich. Her fruit had been soaked in orange liqueur for a couple of weeks and was very boozy (no wonder the judges loved it). Her flavors were so unique that she earned herself a Paul Hollywood handshake, which is incredible for Bread Week. She hasn’t stood out in the last couple of weeks so it was great to see her shine.

Technical Challenge

This week’s technical challenge asked the bakers to make six rainbow colored bagels. They had to follow the recipe from Paul to make the five colored doughs, layer and shape the bagels before boiling and baking them. Yes, apparently you boil bagels! They had two hours and 45 minutes.

Courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

There were several pitfalls that the bakers could fall into during this challenge. If the bagels were under-proofed before boiling them, then the bagels wouldn’t rise. However, if they were over-proofed, then the bagels would puff up too much during boiling and then flatten in the oven.

The bakers were also unsure how long they needed to boil their bagels. Rowan boiled them twice and regretted it immediately when his bagels ended up looking wrinkly. Sura also had problems, as she hadn’t sealed her bagels properly and so they opened up during boiling.

The technical challenge is judged blind and the bakers are ranked from worst to best. Unsurprisingly, Rowan came in last with his soft and wrinkly bagels that were over-proofed and under-baked. Dave came in ninth as his bagels were also over-proofed and were very flat. Sura came in eighth due to her problems with sealing and her bagels not being twisted properly. Next came Hermine, Laura, Lottie, Peter and Marc. Marc came in second as his bagels, although delicious, were a bit large. Linda won because she had great colors and smooth bagels that were soft but crispy on the outside. It was great to see her do well in the challenge. Bread Week seemed to be turning the tables on the bakers as those who had been in the middle of the pack were excelling, whereas past star bakers weren’t faring well.

Showstopper Challenge

For the showstopper challenge, the bakers were asked to make a decorative bread plaque in the style of a traditional harvest festival sheaf. It needed to portray something they were grateful for and they had three hours to do so. The bakers all chose to make multiple types of bread and needed to show off their skills in plaiting, twisting, and spiralling.

After their success in the signature and technical challenges, I was interested to see how Linda and Hermine would fare in this challenge. Linda made an interesting black olive and tiger bread tribute to her uncle’s farm, which included a cow made of bread. The judges loved her design but not her execution. They thought her bread needed more flavor and proofing because it was quite dense.

Hermine was the most ambitious with her bread as she aimed to use enriched dough to create a brioche, alongside her mixed herb focaccia and parmesan bread sticks to honor her journey through France. Paul was skeptical about her brioche, as the dough normally needs to chill overnight. This was a huge risk and proved to be her undoing as she was running behind the whole challenge because of how long it took to make. She did manage to finish on time, even though her brioche only went into the oven with 15 minutes to spare. Unfortunately, Hermine’s risk did not pay off because Paul thought her brioche was not right and lacked flavor.

Laura made a pancetta and cheese stuffed focaccia alongside fougasse bread in honor of her love of musical theatre. It looked incredible with large red curtains and plaited ties, and the judges agreed. However, her style was great but not her execution. Due to the heavy fougasse bread on top, her focaccia could not rise and became dense and looked raw, although it was good around the edges.

Courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Marc made a tribute to Orchard County in sweet apple, hazelnut, and wild garlic breads. In a reverse to most of the bakers, he did quite well on execution but not on design. The judges loved his textures and apple and cinnamon flavors, although felt that the wild garlic could have been stronger. Unfortunately, his design was a bit basic and clumsy.

Lottie made her house out of pesto and sun-dried tomato and chorizo breads. She cleverly decided to cover her loaf in a proofing bag so that she could prove her bread whilst working on it simultaneously. The judges were impressed with the appearance of Lottie’s design, as it had risen well but kept the definition of the design. Her chorizo bread had a lovely flavor but unfortunately her pesto bread didn’t seem to have any.

Dave made a cute tribute to his family, showing himself, his dog, and his pregnant wide in front of their house made of hibiscus and guava bread and mango and chilli bread. Despite getting star baker last week, Paul was not impressed with Dave’s bread. He was not impressed with the plaiting for the roof or the clumsy figures and thought the breads were dry and over-baked. The judges liked his unique hibiscus and guava flavor as they had never had anything like it before.

Peter paid tribute to the Edinburgh cityscape made of bagels and multi-grain bread. He hoped the bagel would hold the precise shapes. He decided to learn lessons from the technical challenge the day before and change his bagel to make it light, but this did not pay off as the judges thought his bagel was dense and tough. The curse of the star baker struck again, as they had very high expectations of him. The judges thought his design was effective but he could have done more, although his flavors were nice.

Rowan created a giant Worcestershire pear tree, in honor of his home, using Worcestershire blue cheese and pear bread, chestnut bread, and a potato and truffle oil bread. He was convinced that he was going home this week but was determined to have a nice time baking his creation. The judges’ critiques of his bread seemed to seal his fate. They said he was all style and no substance. Although his pear tree looked great, most of his breads lacked in flavor and did not rise properly.

Sura made a tribute to her mother’s tomato vine that she used to harvest as a child, using olive bread and sun-dried tomato and feta bread. The judges thought her design was very dramatic and they loved her flavors and texture. They thought it was beautifully seasoned and celebrated tomatoes well.

Marc made a Dharma wheel in caraway, coriander, and fennel seed breads to honor his reading a book about Buddhist philosophy that helped him get through the trauma of losing his leg. His design was neat and colorful, however, it was slightly under-proofed and so ripped slightly around the edges. This did not eclipse his intricate and neat centre and the judges liked his flavors.

When discussing the challenge afterwards, Paul was rather brutal by stating that the standard of this challenge hadn’t been great. I have to say that I was impressed, even if he wasn’t. Many of the bakers seemed to run out of time and didn’t manage to get those final details completed, but they were all very impressive.


Sura, Marc, and even Hermine were in the running for star baker this week. They all did very well in the challenges, however, Hermine didn’t do quite as well in the technical and Paul didn’t like her enriched dough in the showstopper.

Marc received a well-deserved win this week. Bread was what got him started in baking and it brought a tear to our eyes when we watched his daughter engulf him in hugs as they had obviously been allowed in the bubble with him.

Courtesy of ‘The Great British Baking Show’

This week Peter and Dave saw themselves in a bit of trouble but it was obvious that Rowan was going to be eliminated. Rowan knew this was going to happen and was content with the result. We will miss his style but it was definitely his time to go.

Make sure you tune in next week for “Chocolate Week” and check back here for the latest recap!

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By Lynette
Lynette has been a lifelong nerd and over the last few years finally learned to let her freak flag fly. She likes to dip her toe into almost every fandom but is particularly passionate about Supernatural, Stranger Things, Marvel and Disney. When she isn’t binge watching programs, she loves to swim, sing and (true to her Ravenclaw nature) read. Lynette joined the Nerds and Beyond staff in 2019 and loves sharing her nerdy knowledge with the world.
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