The 7 Best Bread-Baking Tips We're Stealing from the New Season of "The Great British Baking Show"
Each week of challenges on The Great British Baking Show is like a singular event in the decathlon. Cake recipes, breads, cookies and more utilize a unique set of skills and kitchen creativity, and we love learning from the chef-testants as they present their best bakes for all of the baking recipe categories.
But due to the banana bread and sourdough renaissance of spring 2020 (or hey, maybe 2020 has just been one huge "bread week" for you—no judgement!), we were more interested than ever to tune into the Netflix series' latest season's bread challenges. What lessons could we learn to continue to step up our slices with the holiday baking season ahead?
Below, the top seven bread tips we snagged from the hosts and home baker contestants. Study up and prepare to create a loaf worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake.
Best Bread-Baking Tips from the Great British Baking Show
1. Work quickly with soda bread.
Since this dough starts rising almost immediately, the sooner you can get it into a preheated oven, the better.
2. Find flavor inspiration from different cultures or cuisines.
The first challenge involved creating two unique soda bread recipes, one sweet and one savory. If you're not sticking with regular white, wheat, sourdough or rye, follow the lead of the reality show bakers. Many of the most successful combinations came from the home countries or ancestral heritage of the contestants. Irish cheddar bread or Turkish-spiced bread, anyone?
3. Ease off the kneading.
Overwork the dough and it will be too dense and won't rise as well as if you handle it just enough to combine the ingredients evenly. (Or try no-knead bread to remove all of that guesswork!)
4. Preheat a pizza stone.
This will offer more even heat distribution and score you a "crusty bottom," according to one contestant. Follow her lead and shape a loaf on a parchment-lined sheet pan, then slide the parchment and dough onto the pizza stone (something like this Unicook Heavy Duty Ceramic Pizza Grilling Stone; $34.99, Amazon, will do the job beautifully) in the oven to bake.
5. Rainbow bagels will never seem all that appetizing.
For the second challenge of bread week, the challenge was to create homemade unicorn-like bagels. Can we all agree that everything bagels > wildly colored, less flavorful rainbow bagels once and for all?
6. Measure your dough.
But getting down to the actual bagel tips, here's a handy one from the episode: Roll and shape a rope of 24 centimeters (about 9 ½ inches) before forming it into a round shape.
7. Room temp your toppings.
In the elimination challenge, bread "plaques" or decorative breads were on parade. If you're mixing in or adding toppings, these are best integrated after the first rise, the bakers say. But to guarantee the second rise will go off without a hitch, bring these bonus ingredients (like cheese, fruits, sausage pieces, etc.) to around room temperature.