Bake Off 2021, German Week: Sophie Ellis-Bextor Realness

It’s no Statue of Liberty but I guess it’ll do.

Welcome to German Week where we do not have fun and games. But there’s a lot of biscuits, yeast and questionably problematic accent work going on. Clearly nobody learned anything from Japanese Week.

Biscuit Week 2: German Boogaloo

Kicking off German Week is a challenge for the bakers to create 2 batches of 12 German Biscuits, which is as vague a name as “Jammy Sandwich Biscuits” – I imagine it’s because if you make Lebkuchen outside of Baden-Württemberg it’s just sparkling gingerbread. From their two batches they wanted one shortbread type biscuits and one made with ground almonds to give it a macaron-esque texture and finish.
Because the biscuits are mostly associated with Christmas, most of the bakers did opt for some sort of a spiced biscuit with George apparently just deciding to make the most joyless biscuit spiced only with nutmeg and aniseed, the final pallid appearance only making it look more like some sort of cold remedy from the middle ages

One biteth of thy spic’d biscuit and thy humeth’rs shalt beest rest’r’d.
The judges do commend him for somehow managing to make aniseed and nutmeg biscuits into a vaguely enjoyable experience but didn’t think the flavours were the right choice for the occasion, should have saved those ones for Cold Remedies Week, huh George? As for his Cherry Marzipan Biscuits, they were alright!

Or you know, they at least tasted like a biscuit that you might want to eat!

Cherry was a pretty popular choice of flavouring for their biscuits, imaginable because everyone kind of wanted to make a Black Forest Gateau biscuit but didn’t want to risk having Jurgen and the European Union’s PGI team swooping in to inspect their chocolate to cherry ratio for historical and regional accuracy.
Freya had instead opted to take inspiration from a Cherry Bakewell for one of her biscuits, evidently being the one she cared a lot more about considering she decorated it like some sort of ancient relic that The Knights Templar would have sworn to protect with their lives

which really didn’t do much to help hide the aesthetic nosedive for her other batch of biscuits

You only have 2 hours, not everything can look like a religious relic of great importance. Unless you’re Giuseppe but I’m currently working on a theory that he might just be the reincarnation of Michelangelo.
There are however issues with both biscuits, namely the fact her Templar Cookies are all missing their bottoms

they’ve been hanging around for 800 odd years, you’d struggle to still be intact too!
As for her balls of overbaked dough and mostly burnt fruit? Well, they’re overbaked balls of dough and burnt fruit, what do you think Paul and Prue thought of them?

Fresh off a stint as Star Baker, Chigs was hoping to retain the title by making sure all of his flavours were distinct and stood out, which he did tell Paul and Prue while he grated the zest of three whole oranges into his marzipan horn dough in that uniquely threatening way that only Chigs’s eyebrows are capable of. His Orange Marzipan Horns were to be accompanied by a batch of vanilla sandwich biscuits filled with raspberry jam and a disc of marzipan and both batches, I think, turned out looking incredibly neat and precise

and they could certainly taste all three oranges worth of flavour which did come to the detriment of the desired marzipanness. Maybe should have just done the two oranges.

Giuseppe was also making a batch of jam-filled sandwich biscuits which in true Giuseppe style involved cutting out a lot of very little intricate details, surprisingly the pomegranate seed manoeuvring tweezers were not brought out for the occasion. His biggest challenge was managing to create jam that set enough to be able to spread within the biscuit, I say that was his biggest challenge but he was also having to deal with Matt Lucas making gravy jokes because he was using a spice mix called Pisto in his second batch of biscuits which, in keeping with the German Week theme, did look like the last remains of a Bergfried tower

both of his biscuits go down incredibly well with the judges responding very positively to the Pisto spice mix in his biscuits of crumbling historic warfare. The perfect blend of orange and strawberry in his sandwich biscuits also goes highly praised – Chigs’s eyebrows twitch in agitation.

Amanda was also going for a shortbread biscuit featuring a cut-out top, although having a significantly less fun time with her jam – the cut from Giuseppe almost chef’s kissing his own jammy perfection to Amanda just about tipping what was essentially mulled wine squash over her biscuits was the stuff of the divine

they didn’t turn out nearly as badly as you’d expect though, she was missing one from the batch of 12 but they had perfectly retained their shape

They’re a much more successful romantic gesture than her Pavlova Heart and the judges rave about them, especially her mulled wine jam which Prue had just about scraped off without actually eating the biscuit

This biscuit eating method is worse than Paul Hollywood dunking a Jaffa Cake, I will be taking them both to court for Crimes Against Biscuits.
As for Amanda’s second batch of biscuits, she talked a lot about how her plan was to get them into the freezer quickly so that when she put them in the oven they would retain their shapes and then gave the second most smug look to camera (second only to Anna Maxwell Martin in Line of Duty)

and well, her biscuits very promptly wilted and lost most of their definition while in the oven

German Week Schadenfreude tastes particularly delicious.
And all throughout this Paul Hollywood stood behind her, ever so slightly out of focus like the monster in It Follows

I just want you all to know, that I did forget the title of It Follows (2014) and had to Google “the have sex or die movie” – which did in turn teach me that there is a movie called “Have Sex or Die” with a suspiciously decent IMDB rating.
Moving on from Carnal Horror Movies, Amanda’s undefined biscuits at least tasted reasonable.

Crystelle caused some controversy in the tent with her biscuit making method, and by “caused controversy” I do mean she did something slightly different to what Paul Hollywood would do and he was a bit pissy about it. Her method being to roll out the full sheet of biscuit dough, put it in the freezer and then cut out the biscuits, rather than cutting the biscuits out and then freezing them. His biggest gripe was with how she would know they were all the same thickness and I imagine it would be a bit like how she would if she rolled the biscuit dough out and then cut the biscuits? What are you on about Paul?
Luckily for Crystelle this very straightforward method didn’t backfire spectacularly and she made some lovely brown butter shortbread biscuits

they don’t look wildly appetising to me despite the pistachio flavour being right up my alley, I think they just need a touch of colour, either some cranberries or dark chocolate but the judges liked them a lot.
Her second batch were a biscuit known as Englesaugen, which translates to “Angel Eyes” and when they were all clumped together like this they sure did look like a biblically accurate Ophanim

she too had gone for a chocolate and orange combination and tried to jazz it up a little with some hazelnuts which worked very well and the judges praised her delicate handling of the orange. *Chigs’s eyebrows continue to twitch*.

While everyone tripped over their pronunciation of the seemingly endless amount of German biscuit names, Jurgen was at least on hand to swoop in and correct them like some sort of GCSE teaching bird of prey – most of which was just him repeatedly saying “Gluhweinplatzchen” to Amanda and her somehow saying it more wrong every single time.
When he wasn’t giving everyone a lesson in German linguistics, he was concentrating on making “his brother’s favourite almond horns” which I imagine they ate a lot of while they played “Brother, may I have more grain?” with their cardboard windmill. In order to add the required extra finish that the judges wanted, he was glazing half of them with white chocolate, which in the artist’s sketch did make them look a bit like a pair of croissants wearing condoms

safe sex education for pastries NOW!
And well, that’s not entirely not what they ended up looking like

he’s mostly praised for the uniformity of his two batches, which is quite an achievement given that they aren’t your average shaped biscuits. As for the flavour, Paul did cough a little when it came to the coffeeness of them but they had nothing on Freya’s near lethal brandy snaps from Biscuit Week.

And lastly we have Lizzie who was making a biscuit known as a Spitzbuben, which means “rascals” or more humorously “cheeky boys” and thus began Lizzie’s war with finesse as she couldn’t quite help herself while looking at the un-iced biscuits she pondered “should I give them eyelashes and lipstick?”

and only one thing could come of this because of course Lizzie piped on some eyelashes and lipstick, thus creating a choir of 👁👄👁

the judges rave about the taste of the cardamom and apple jam filling, which does sound rather incredible but do think the biscuits needed to be in the oven for a little longer because they’re a little pale and under-baked. They might say “pale and under-baked”, I say Sophie Ellis-Bextor realness

Mord auf der Tanzfläche.
As for Lizzie’s second batch of biscuits, they also lacked a little bit of finesse and looked a bit like some sort of insect had covered itself in rocks and debris to armour itself against predators

which to be fair, would be how I showed up to the tent every day knowing Paul Hollywood was going to be hovering about the place.
It’s another highly praised biscuit for Lizzie and Paul makes sure to tell her that if they were neater and the other ones looked less like Britain’s premium kitchen entertainer, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, she might have got herself a handshake.

An Unofficial German Biscuit Ranking

  1. Giuseppe’s Fancy Jammie Dodgers
  2. Die Lieblingsmandelhörner von Jürgens Bruder™
  3. Jurgen’s Subliminal Star Baker Messaging
  4. Mostly Just Amanda’s Mulled Wine Jam
  5. Crystelle’s Marginally Less Terrifying Ophanim
  6. Giuseppe’s Chocolate Obelisks
  7. Lizzie’s Gallery of Cursed Porcelain Dolls
  8. Lizzie’s Caddisfly Biscuits
  9. Crystelle’s Method Defying Shortbread
  10. George’s Above Average Use of Kirsch
  11. Chigs’s Lost Marzipan Layer
  12. Amanda’s Definition.JPEG
  13. Chigs’s Three-Orange Horns
  14. Freya’s Templar Knight Medallions
  15. George’s Joyless Christmas
  16. Freya’s Balls of Burnt Fruit

Not All Princes Become Kings

For their technical challenge the bakers found themselves having to navigate both the trickiness of creating an 8 layered cake but also pronouncing Prinzregententorte in the least offensive way possible – the result being one hell of an apology letter to the German Embassy – both for the bakers and whatever accent work Matt Lucas was doing.
Prinzregententorte (translated to Prince Regent Cake) is named after Luitpold, the Prince Regent of Bavaria in the 1880s – the exact maker of it is disputed and personally I cannot wait for Bavarian Crime Story: Das Große Backen.

Prue’s only advice to the bakers before they began was “remain calm and be methodical” which was pretty good advice considering they only had 1 oven with three shelves each and needed to make 8 pancake thin layers of German Genoise sponge, which was only German because it was German Week, after this Italy can have it back. They had at least all been bought Genoise Sponge Cooling Racks as a treat

shout out to whichever production member had to go to a kitchen store and ask for 8 drying racks, you’re an angel.
One of the main components of the cake is the fact its interior layers are all meant to be the same thickness, a concept that George just completely gave up on

That massive pillowy one on the top <3
Layering up the cake was similarly important because the top of the cake is meant to lie perfectly flat, an effect that Crystelle didn’t quite achieve, hers being so domed that her piped rosettes slowly but surely succumbed to the siren’s song that is gravity

her futile flailing in the background <3
But you know, at least she had rosettes, Chigs’s sort of just gave up the will to live and become ghosts of their former selves

but his ganache was extremely well made and his sponge, despite being a little on the thick side was received very positively by the judges, earning him second place, just behind Giuseppe whose only real crime was not thinking to go around the side of his cake with a palette knife

but it was still a very well made ganache, only made to look better by the fact Jurgen’s was slightly bubbly and Amanda had a royally bad time with just about every part of the wretched cake including a weirdly textured ganache and a chocolate cream that had taken on almost as concerning a texture as Kem’s Dead Marshes Buttercream on Celebrity MasterChef

she did at least have the good sense not to serve it and instead whipped up some plain cream and piped it on, which didn’t look that bad

We’ll call it The German Surrender Cake, or Aufgebenkuchen.

An Official Prinzregententorte Ranking

  1. Italy’s German Take Over
  2. Chigs By Virtue Of Everyone Else’s Failures
  3. Lizzie Probably Should Have Been Second, Actually
  4. Jurgen’s German Week Nightmare Beginneth
  5. Freya Mostly Sighing Her Way Through Another Technical
  6. George’s Occasionally Thicc Regent
  7. Crystelle’s Gravitationally Succumbing Rosettes
  8. Amanda’s German Surrender Cake

The Beast From The Yeast

For the German Showstopper Challenge the bakers had to make a Yeast-leavened Cake inspired by the many varieties that are apparently so popular in Germany. Jurgen is of course very quick to point out that making a tiered yeast-leavened cake is a nonsense akin to asking someone to make a tiered apple crumble and I would kindly ask him to shut up before they start to think that a 3 tiered celebratory crumble inspired by your favourite European monarchy is a good challenge. So as protest for this Jurgen was playing it as straight and unflashy as possible while making absolutely as much noise as everyone’s favourite polite German father can

the result of this doughy violence being an extremely well made trio of plaited chocolate, apricot and stout loaves

and while they appear remarkably well baked, they’re a little too bready for the judges and Prue describes them as “a little breakfast-y” by which she absolutely meant that she was deriving as much joy from it as she would if he had handed her a bowl of plain muesli. You see, Jurgen had made the mistake of not averting the shortcoming of basically making various glorified fruit-breads by layering them and pumping them full of various crème diplomats or icings. How dare you stand up for the historical integrity of German baking? NO STAR BAKER FOR YOU.
It was also a little hard to be overly impressed with Jurgen’s three tiers when Giuseppe’s looked about as close to a wedding cake as three definitely-cakes-not-breads could look

which is doubly funny considering that George was attempting his own wedding themed cake dedicated to his wife as a late anniversary present, the result looking like someone had dressed a stack of farmhouse bloomers up as Miss Havisham

which alone was enough to have him sleeping on the couch for a good fortnight, which George did seem to slowly be realising

but he also apparently doesn’t know how long he and his wife have been married. Potential marriage woes aside, one of George’s layers was a touch raw and the balance between his Tahini and chocolate flavours wasn’t as well balanced as his flavours usually are.

Lizzie was out to redeem herself and supply Paul with all the finesse that he could possibly desire. Which looked like it was going to be an uphill struggle considering she was making a Hansel and Gretel themed fairytale cake which she was painting with all the colours that can legally be stocked in British supermarkets

but her not-so-secret weapon was the fact the whole thing was liberally laced with an orange blossom and mandarin gin

and you know what? For something that’s decorated with pineapple flowers, it’s quite pretty? I’m not quite sure I remember the part in Hansel and Gretel where the gingerbread cottage was built on an active volcano but I’m sure Lizzie was pulling from the original fairytale, we do have to strive for historical accuracy and integrity in German Week.
She gets pretty positive reviews for it with Paul commending her for finally showing some finesse and Prue just really wanted it to be a little sweeter. It seems Prue has finally built up an immunity to booze, it was only a matter of time.

Amanda was also letting her hopes of redemption lie in the hands of the sauce as, and I will transcribe this for full effect:

“I have been… forced… to use… a whole kilo of… raisins soaked in a litre… of very… good… rum.”

Amanda McBake-Off, ‘German Week'(2021) The Great British Bake Off, Series 5, Episode 5. Directed by Jeanette Goulbourn. Channel 4 19 October.

if anyone is wondering where all the rum went, those ellipses are pretty telling.
Somewhere along the line Amanda began to run out time, it might have been the booze break but who could possibly know? And by the end of the 4 hours she had had to resort to icing far too hot a cake-bread and slapping almonds on to it like she was the bad cop trying to draw a confession out of someone on CSI: Miami

clearly Jurgen’s French slap was a bad influence.
I do love that Amanda had chosen Edelweiss as her inspiration for this challenge, a song that is practically the musical embodiment of childlike gentility of which her final cake was nothing of the sort

I mean, it is a great big rollicking lump of breadish cake.
And while the cake’s appearance might not be the most aesthetically pleasing sight, the judges rave about the taste and marvel at the amount of fruit she managed to stuff in there

which is quite impressive when contrasted with the single lone cherry that lay in the slice they cut from Giuseppe’s cake

and in further proof that Amanda may have swigged that entire litre of very…good…rum *hic* was the fact not a jot got said about it despite those raisins ALLEGEDLY being laced with the stuff.
And Amanda continues to inspire the most unhinged of eating habits, or at least there was something very disturbing about Paul just holding a chunk of her fruity-bready-cake with his fingers smeared in crème diplomat

but maybe it’s just Paul’s hands?

A key feature of Amanda’s cake was a layer of caramelised plums in the centre, which Freya was also somewhat utilising as she made a sort of plum and mulled wine upside down cake. And in keeping with the German Week laws, she was using a German wine of which she knew nothing about and almost certainly just grabbed the first thing that came to hand and hoped that because it was made in Germany that meant it was fancy. Given that Germany is mostly known for its white wines, I’m going to hazard a guess that it wasn’t fancy.
And in true Bake Off style she went ham on the wine which she was very happy with and really quite pleased with her cake as it stood there tall, proud and bleeding profusely

only getting more gory when Paul sliced into it

it’s not a wildly successful bake from Freya with the ratio of dough to just about everything else being entirely out of balance and then the loaves being under-baked (BUT NOT RAW) didn’t help her case much either.

Crystelle had fallen back on her usual go-to of “when in doubt pipe roses and hope for the best”

I did love that she was punished with a lack of airtime almost entirely because she kept calling her cake “brioche” and not “German leavened-cake” like she was supposed to!
It really is quite an achievement that she made it all look as pretty as she did, and without using every single colour going! I’m not quite sure about pairing caramelised apples with a chocolate orange crème diplomat but the judges seemed to like it. Not that I particularly trust the tastes of Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith anymore either.

And lastly we have Chigs who seemed to have created a sort of apian wreckage with shards of honeycomb strewn about while frenzied and distressed bees buzzed around it

the slow panning up the cake like the slow pan across the plane wreckage in the first episode of Lost only really adding to the effect.
It’s a tale of two halves with Chigs as the idea is solid and whimsical in the way that Bake Off craves but the over all baking of it just isn’t up to scratch as the judges find it a little too tough to eat.

A German Yeast-leavened Cake Ranking

  1. Crystelle in Piped Roses 2: Crème Pat Boogaloo
  2. Giuseppe’s Leavened Wedding Cake
  3. Lizzie’s Hansel and Gretel Face Volcanic Peril
  4. Amanda’s Well Slapped and Potentially Boozeless Cake
  5. Jurgen’s Hearty German Breakfast of Integrity and Respect
  6. Chigs’s Bid to Save The Bees
  7. Freya’s Sanguineous Plum Cake
  8. George’s Miss HOVISham

I think it became pretty obvious that Giuseppe would be the Star Baker this week the moment that he was the only person who really pulled off the Prinzregententorte. His only real contender by the third round being Crystelle but she had bombed the technical and not done spectacularly well in the signature biscuit challenge because apparently Paul and Prue don’t appreciate a biblically accurate angelic horror when they see one! And then Lizzie is just Lizzie, they’re going to give her NOTHING except an abundance of screen time. And so Giuseppe took his second Star Baker title

The War of The Continental Nice Guys rages on.
As for the elimination, it came down to being between Freya and George and in true George Is The New Laura, he squeaks by another week with Freya finding herself getting the chop in one of the most uncomfortable eliminations we’ve ever had

I really like both Freya and George, however I do think that George should probably have bitten the dust this week regardless of Freya bloodletting her cake to the vegan vampires of Hatfield Heath. I’m very sad to see Freya going home as upset as she was but she’s done phenomenally well on the show and hope for only good things for Britain’s Premium Horse Girl.

And so, 7 bakers move on to Pastry Week

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