The first-ever German week requires most of the bakers to step outside their comfort zones.
It’s a historic week on The Great British Baking Show, as it’s the show’s first-ever German Week! The bakers will tackle batches of German biscuits, a regal torte, and a yeasty showstopper. All eyes are on Jürgen, the German baker in the tent. Will our flavor king be crowned Star Baker? Or will another baker steal the title? Let’s dig in!
As the bakers load into the tent, there’s much chatter around German Week. Amanda, in a confessional, exclaims “What is German week?” Jürgen, cool as a cucumber, wishes everyone “Viel Glück” (“Good luck”) and “Hals-und Beinbruch” (which loosely translates to “break a leg and break your neck.”). The bakers are a bit shocked at this classic German phrase, but that shock doesn’t last long as it’s Signature time.
In the signature challenge, the bakers are instructed to bake two batches of 12 German biscuits in two hours. Their biscuits must be decorated with precision and have great flavors. German biscuits are popular around Christmas, so some of the bakes might give off American Christmas cookie-swap vibes. Far from Christmas is the temp in the tent, as the bakers worry their bakes featuring marzipan, jams, and icing might suffer from the heat. Suspiciously, they never mention the actual temperature in the tent, which leads me to believe the producers were tired of online comments roasting them for thinking anything above 60℉ (15 ℃) is a heatwave.
At the end of the signature, Paul and Prue make their rounds, accompanied by Matt and Noel. Giuseppe’s look lovely, and his pecan and coffee biscuit is deemed “perfect.” I thought Crystelle’s brown-butter shortbread was going to get her a Hollywood Handshake, but alas she’ll have to be content with hearing they’re a “triumph.” Prue loves Lizzie’s decorative twist on Spitzbuben (known as “Cheeky Boys” due to their resemblance of a face, Lizzie transforms hers to “Cheeky Girls with eye-popping colors), but her chocolate biscuits had too much chocolate (but is there really a thing as too much chocolate?).
Amanda accidentally left one cookie behind, but the judges love her mulled-wine jam-filled shortbread hearts (Amanda, drop that recipe for mulled wine jam!). George’s biscuits had great flavor, but his anise biscuit was too rushed (traditionally it takes much longer than the allotted 2 hours). Freya’s vegan twists on German biscuits were overbaked, featuring burnt raisins and glace cherries. Jürgen’s traditional “Tee-Sterne and Milch Kaffee-Gipfele” (loosely tea and espresso-flavored biscuits) are praised for their uniformity and flavors. And just like that, Jürgen gets another Hollywood Handshake! The Reign of the Flavor King has arrived!
Next up is the technical, as assigned by Prue: the Prinzregententorte. Personally, I think Noel deserves all the awards for being able to pronounce the cake in one fell swoop. This torte, created to honor Prince Regent Luitpold, features eight layers of German genoises sandwiched with smooth chocolate cream, all coated with shiny chocolate ganache, and finally topped with decorative rosettes and chocolate crowns. The bakers have 2 hours 45 minutes to complete their royal tortes.
The bakers set off to learn how to create their tortes and practice the pronunciation. A request from this writer: can one of our lovely Spool readers splice together all the pronunciation attempts of “Prinzregententorte” and put it online? Truly, it’s a marvel to see everyone stumble. Everyone that is except Jürgen, who in typical Jürgen fashion, effortlessly and perfectly pronounces “Prinzregententorte.” He also admits he’s never had one nor has he baked one, so this challenge is really anyone’s to win … or lose.
A request from this writer: can one of our lovely Spool readers splice together all the pronunciation attempts of “Prinzregententorte” and put it online?
There’s a lot that can go wrong with these layers. The eight German genoise layers require the bakers to precisely measure out the amounts of batter, then batch bake all under a watchful eye to achieve uniform layers. If the layers are too hot, they risk melting their cream, ganache, and cake decorations. Excelling at the layers is Italian baker Giuseppe, who seems to have fashioned a baking tray assembly line, lining eight trays with eight equal amounts of batter. Poor George mismeasures his batter, ending with layers of differing heights. Amanda over whips her chocolate cream rosettes and ends up piping out white cream so she has something to offer.
Overall, the bakers all end up with Prinzregententortes to present, albeit they’re all a bit messy to the eye. The technical rankings are as follows: Amanda (8), Crystelle (7), George (6), Freya (5), Jürgen (4), Lizzie (3), Chigs (2), and Giuseppe (1). Giuseppe’s torte had the best design and lovely, even layers of sponge. Giuseppe is shocked he’s won the technical. Jürgen’s not bothered by his middle-placement in the technical, as he’s really not that into chocolate cakes. Yes Jürgen, speak your truth! It’s not you, it’s the chocolate cakes!
It’s now onto the showstopper: a yeast-leavened cake featuring two tiers. Instead of baking powder, some German cakes use yeast to achieve a rise in the bake. The bakes will be somewhere in-between bread and cake. Also noting here that unfortunately Noel fell ill, and wasn’t present at this point in the episode, so it was up to Matt to lead the hosting duties. Poor Noel!
Back to the bakes. I was pleasantly surprised that most of the bakers were infusing their bakes with hefty amounts of booze. Jürgen soaks his bake in beer. Lizzie’s pouring gin into her Bavarian cake. Freya’s soaking plumbs in wine for her upside-down plum cake. Amanda may be the booze queen of them all, soaking a kilo of raisins in a liter of rum. Amanda, I like your style! With the yeast, decorations, and a timer clicking down, the bakers are all in a bit of a rush to assemble their tiers, but everyone puts out some spectacular yeasty cakes.
I’m loving the Giuseppe/Jürgen dynamic in the tent! I think they’re going to be neck and neck and end up in the semifinals.
At the judge’s table, Lizzie’s up first. Paul and Prue thought she improved on the finesse, and her cake did indeed have cake-like texture and taste. Crystelle’s up second, and her brioche-style cake had a nice look and good taste. Chigs’s London and Mixed peel cake looked quite pretty but was overbaked. Amanda’s cake looked effective, had fantastic flavors (I mean a liter of rum probably packed a lot of flavor), and had a spot-on bake. Freya’s plum cake looked messy due to the bleeding wine-soaked plumbs, and her tiers were underbaked. George also had raw dough in his chocolate-tahini cakes.
Giuseppe brought up his three-tiered Amarena Cherry Cake. In a shocking moment, the top tier fell off the table, and was caught by Matt! The excitement in this tent just never stops! After that moment, Paul and Prue tuck into Giuseppe’s cake, and Paul deems it “Better than Pannetone.” Not a small feat, Giuseppe! Finally, it’s Jürgen’s turn. While his cake looks beautiful, the dough is a bit dry. Paul delivers the final blow: he likes the cake but doesn’t love it.
At the end of the episode, it’s final judgment time. Giuseppe is crowned Star Baker for German Week. His bakes were fantastic, all containing the taste and decor expected halfway through bake-off. Sadly the baker to leave this week is Freya. She was pretty emotional in the tent, but at 19 she is proud she made it this far, all while baking vegan signatures and showstoppers. Heck, she even got me, a non-Vegan, searching for recipes with aqua faba! Getting back to the Star Baker of this week, Giuseppe is shocked but very happy he excelled at his bakes. And Jürgen, never the sore loser, even says Giuseppe deserves the Star Baker crown this week.
Predictions and Other Thoughts:
- I’m loving the Giuseppe/Jürgen dynamic in the tent! I think they’re going to be neck and neck and end up in the semifinals. I still think Chigs will join them, as again he put up a strong showing this week.
- It wasn’t too shocking for me that Freya left this week. I think she put up some strong vegan bakes prior to this episode but was reaching the limits of her expertise and experience. While I love George (how adorably awkward was it when Paul and Prue were asking him how long’s he been married and he couldn’t do the math?), I fear he’s dangerously close to leaving.
- Sad to hear that Noel fell ill! Especially after earlier moments in the episode when he said that if GBBS ever went the German route (i.e. only having one host), that we should all remember he was hosting before Matt.