The Great British Bake Off: Danish Week
October 17, 2018 7:05 AM - Season 9, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Velkommen! In the Tent's first Danish Week (a theme apparently suggested by host Sandi Toksvig) the five semi-finalist bakers kick things off by making rye bread in the Signature, which is then used to produce two Smørrebrød. For the Technical, bakers were asked to produce fourteen Æbleskiver. Lastly, in the Showstopper, the challenge was to create the traditional Danish birthday treat, Kagemand.
posted by PearlRose (27 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Poor everyone this week. I definitely feel like Manon was the right choice though because no one did great but she's been doing pretty poorly for a couple of weeks. Will they ever forgive Sandi for doing that to them?
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:26 AM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

Remember last week, when I was happy that there'd been no major calamities and I liked it when nearly everyone's bakes were successful on some level? Yeah. I'm eating those words right now. This week was a terrible mess, and it was pretty rough, seeing all of them so upset.

I'm glad that Ruby received Star Baker, though! She's, I think, shown the most improvement over the past few weeks, learning how to bake within the time limit with her skills.

I never knew that there was a Danish birthday tradition of screaming while cutting the head off of a pastry in the shape of a child. That's pretty awesome -- I wish they would bring back some of the history segments, especially with these challenges rooted in other baking styles and cultures.
posted by PearlRose at 7:44 AM on October 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

I just found my aebelskiver pan yesterday, Kid Ruki is going apple picking after school today, and now this post. Clearly, the universe wants me to make aebelskivers.
posted by Ruki at 8:01 AM on October 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

Oh no, Rahul not understanding how cast iron works!  Deep breath little guy, remember your science!  Man he really…er…crumbled this week.  He really flaked under pressure.  Come on, little buddy, science the shit out these things!   I would have hoped his surprise at the sheer weight of the pan would remind him of its thermal mass, but I guess he was too rattled by his first challenge performance—I know I would have been.  I was sure he was gonna be the one to go until they announced Manon, and then I thought, Oh of course!  His bakes went poorly, but she got called out more than once for baking French goods rather than their Danish counterparts.  And as usual, getting the missive wrong is a bigger sin than underperforming while producing the correct goods.  So au revoir Manon, you will always be this season’s star French baker to me

The Danish gags were all very fun.  Sandi looked like a Tolkien dwarf there at the start though, up against Noel.

On a tangent but still show-related:  Watching from the West side of the Pond, the dominance of the American-made KitchenAid mixers has really surprised me.  I mean, they’re ubiquitous here too and for legitimate cause, but for some reason I always thought their market was more domestic.  On the other hand, noticing the season they vanished—to be replaced by the obvious knockoff from Kenwood— did lead me down the rabbit hole of the Great British Bake Off Mixer Scandal.  I’m guessing they’re even more of a status marker than over here though?  I grew up with the other American standard mixer of the time, but you can pry my KitchenAid from my cold, dead fingers.  It looks like the basic version will set you back the equivalent of $500US in the UK, or about three times as much as they cost here.

Fun trivia:  the KitchenAid design we all know has been essentially unchanged since it was introduced in the 1930s (which explains that timeless and beautiful streamline moderne shape), and all external attachments ever made are still compatible.  Even better and with delicious(!) irony, the designer, Egmont Arens, was an early proponent of planned obsolescence, and thus of our planet-dusting consumer economy, but is also responsible for a mixer design that has lasted essentially unchanged for 80 odd years—so long a stretch that its iconic siilhouette is trademarked.*  You could build a good FPP about all the cool things Egmont Arens did, along with all his sins for what he accomplished as well.

*You’d think with all the trivia I’ve picked up on the KitchenAid—so much that I didn’t have to consult Wikipedia before writing this—I’d have remembered they get sold lots of places around the world.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 9:31 AM on October 17, 2018 [9 favorites]

I did not find this week relaxing.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 9:42 AM on October 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

Yes, I was very worried the entire time. Do not like seeing Rahul and Briony particularly being so upset.

But the Hawaiian shirts were a nice shout-out to Jon, I did appreciate that.
posted by rewil at 10:22 AM on October 17, 2018 [8 favorites]

I am so irritated with Manon for making French bread and pain au chocolat in DANISH WEEK and keeping Rahul with his "inedible" bread and burnt spherical things and absolute mess of a showstopper (sorry, it looked terrible) in. I like Rahul, but come on, how did that week not result in him leaving?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:54 PM on October 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh my gosh. I spent the second half of this episode in floods of tears. And next week looks stressful as well, from the preview. I was hoping for some light relief, but I got bogged down in Danish tragedy.

Was convinced Rahul was going. I mean, all three of his bakes looked dreadful and had some fundamental error: underproved, burnt and burnt? Seemed a bit harsh on Manon, though she has had some 'flavourless' feedback from the last couple of weeks, so perhaps it was the final straw when she strayed so far from the brief.
posted by doornoise at 2:01 PM on October 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I don't ever want Kim-Joy to be upset again. Her little sad face about broke my heart.
posted by doornoise at 2:03 PM on October 17, 2018 [16 favorites]

Weirdly when everything is going to hell, Rahul's self deprecation seems to have an undercurrent of cheerfulness. He almost sounded stoic at times. He was lucky to get through but I hope next week they just let them bake. I want "Sponge week".
posted by DoveBrown at 2:18 PM on October 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

It was a near thing but I do think there's an argument to send Manon home based just on this week's performance, not that of previous weeks (which is purportedly how the judging is meant to go). Rahul's signature loaf had some serious issues, but it was still a rye bread, and his Smørrebrød was overtopped, but it had the proper savoury elements. Manon had better bread, but it wasn't rye bread, and her Smørrebrød were essentially both the same (non-Smørrebrød) thing: cheese-with-sweet-accompaniments. Making a proper tasty rye in the short time frame allotted is a miserably difficult task, so I think they gave higher points for Rahul's failed attempt at traditional rye. It feels weird to give him the edge when Manon made a lovely-looking Pain de Campagne, but two elements of the signature failed to follow the brief.

Manon did have the advantage on the Æbleskiver, but I actually think they were not so far apart there, since Manon ran low on batter to make hers, indicating resource-management issues -- a lesser sin than burnt pastry, but then they were all working with cast-iron, and once that overheats there's no good way to address the problem when you're on a tight clock. (I was mostly surprised they didn't knock Ruby a bit harder for ripping hers open to fill them? Yes, they were more edible, but that's not Æbleskiver, that's a fancified Timbit.)

Manon's showstopper pastry looked better, but in terms of texture/edibility I think she and Rahul were closer to tied than the camera made them out to be. Manon had tough sheets of flash-fried dough peeling off the bottom of her pastries; it looked less obviously burnt on-camera than Rahul's, but it still had some serious problems. Had she chosen to use at least one filling, I think she would still have beaten out Rahul, but again, she went a bit sideways from the brief, after already getting dinged for that same issue in the signature bake. Pain au chocolat as one element would have been fine, but the rest of the pastry was basically just a plain croissant. Given the issues she had with the butter, it wouldn't even have been a good croissant.
posted by halation at 2:24 PM on October 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

My biggest bafflement of the week: how has Rahul never heard of Star Wars. I refuse to believe this. He has advanced STEM degrees and in my experience it is literally impossible to be in the company of STEM majors for any length of time and encounter zero Star Wars references. HOW. Is he too busy to have exposure to popular culture? Was his "chocolate rain" quip mere coincidence? I HAVE QUESTIONS.
posted by halation at 2:28 PM on October 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

I thought Rahul made fundamental baking errors in all three bakes and should have gone home. I also think Ruby, who I generally believe has really improved by leaps and bounds, should have been more harshly judged for faking her aebelskiver. Of course they are more uniform, she didn't fill them while cooking!
posted by oneirodynia at 9:02 PM on October 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

When I started watching this show, I was so surprised it was so upsetting to watch. The unconcealed distress was distressing and I did not know if I was going to make it with this supposedly "gentle little baking show."
Now it's all old hat and I pegged Kim Joy from the start as someone who was not going to take the more negative end of the emotional spectrum well, although I think I worry more overall for Sandi's well being.
As for Rahul, the whole function of worrying is to cope with the unknown so once something seemingly becomes somewhat knowable, there's the "comfort in preparedness." I have been hoping he avoids freaking out and just giving up. He freaked out but he did not give up.

I remember when Æbleskiver and their Japanese counterpart were all the rage, which I guess is now a generation out of fashion?

Noel went to Copenhagen on Travel Man and had Smørrebrød, which from all the ways it's been said I no longer have any idea how it's suppose to sound. One of my earliest "internet friends" was Danish and she said the hardest phrase to say was "strawberries in clotted cream."
posted by provoliminal at 1:57 AM on October 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I understand why Manon went home, and overall I suppose I agree - Rahul did some terrible baking, but to let Manon off when she effectively side-stepped the baking categories by making FRENCH bread and FRENCH pastries would have set a precedent where if you didn't like what you were supposed to make you could just make something different. What's annoying is that Manon made that decision to go off-piste.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:48 AM on October 18, 2018

I mean imagine if Jon had, on purpose, made something non-vegan last week?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:49 AM on October 18, 2018 [5 favorites]

That was a very stressful episode of GBBO. I did not enjoy that in the slightest.

I thought it would come down to Rahul and Manon as the exiting baker and basically as soon as she said she was making pain au chocolat and croissants instead of danish pastries, on top of her not!Rye bread, I started waving her goodbye. Which is a pity as I enjoyed her but she did make those decisions herself.
posted by halcyonday at 5:29 AM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I feel like everything was working against them for all three challenges today. Rye bread in 3.5 hours is intense (my husband says he's never done a loaf in under 6 hours); I'm guessing Ruby's going for a smaller loaf was really the only way to do it. I remember in a couple of the earlier seasons, they would do things like let them prep dough the night before to give it time to rise, and I kind of wish they had done that.

Then they only had an hour (!) for the technical with a new and kind of weird technique. Rahul's issues with pan heat would be really hard to correct in that time frame--not enough time to cool things down.

And finally, for the last challenge, it looks like they all had enough time, but the heat just wrecked everything.

I was so happy last week with the preview for this week when I saw them all in the Hawaiian shirts and figured it was in honor of Jon, and then to have it be this stressful for everyone was a bit :(
posted by damayanti at 6:21 AM on October 18, 2018

I agree that this week seemed maliciously difficult. There was a section where Paul was saying that because they are close to semi-finals, they need to get harsher and harder. But I dunno man, I think it was too much. (Also, I love how Ruby openly dunks on Paul.)

I also agree that I miss some of the more educational trivia that they had when it was on BBC and so it was nice to have some of that back in this week's episode.

I thought Briony was a pretty good contender for Star Baker but pleased that it went to Ruby. I like both of them very much. I waffle on Kim-Joy because sometimes she's a bit too twee for me. I was ambivalent about Manon. I've already made my feelings about Rahul known so I won't bring things down further on such a tough week.
posted by like_neon at 9:21 AM on October 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yeah, most of the above. I'm pretty happy for Ruby getting SB after how rocky her start was, and I'm sort of surprised Prue and Paul didn't go for another series first and kick both Manon and Rahul off. Manon for going off brief, as noted above, and Rahul for his seeming inability to bring anything edible to the plate this week.

I'm kind of coming around on Rahul's fatalism compared to the trembliest lip ever when Kim-Joy's showstopper went slightly sideways after a a couple of great compliments - great piping! impeccable design! Ok, the butter leaked out because the weather wasn't cooperating (which frankly nailed all three of the lowest ranked Showstoppers) and whoa hey everything's falling apart!

I mean, at least Rahul is expecting the worst all the time anyway, so.... And I mean I agree with Paul, at this point in the competition, the bakers should be aware of the challenges they might face baking in the tent compared to baking at home, and adjust accordingly.

My wife was surprised by how much headfakery Paul was giving Ruby, and how little of it she was having.

Are there any other unwritten rules? I mean, I was aware of the "present something, anything" rule after bingate, and I was sort of aware that they frowned on going too far from the spirit of the bake, are there any others?
posted by Kyol at 2:10 PM on October 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

My wife was surprised by how much headfakery Paul was giving Ruby, and how little of it she was having.

Yeah, what was with that "only two-hundred mill? Is that all????", when Ruby seems to have had the best rye overall! Did she change her recipe? Was Paul being a dick? Was Paul just completely wrong?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:03 AM on October 19, 2018 [2 favorites]

I mean imagine if Jon had, on purpose, made something non-vegan last week?

Paul Hollywood's idea of "French baking" is entirely subjective. Vegan baking is not.

Pain de Campagne is just a round, rustic loaf. there's nothing wrong with rye bread being round. Here's Paul Hollywood's recipe. Manon did not fill her rye bread with seeds, and it wasn't a dark loaf. That doesn't make it "French" any more than Briony's enormous, non-seedy swirled rye was... whatever you want to associate that type of rye with. Certainly neither fit the brief for rugbrød, but Paul decided Manon's was "French". Paul also doesn't seem to realize that wienerbrød can be made with chocolate and therefore Manon's Danish pastries were also "French". That's a made up distinction with some bias behind it as well. Now ding Manon for leaky butter and fried bottoms, yes. Is that a worse baking issue than pulling your wienerbrød out of the oven, and then thinking you should burn it for ten more minutes while you make filled chocolates? I think that's arguable.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:13 AM on October 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh, this was a stressful one! I understand that Kim-Joy kind of fell apart at the smallest amount of criticism, but I think she believed she was lower on the scale overall than we knew she was, so she probably thought there was a chance she'd be going home.

I think Manon probably should have stayed, since I didn't see the egregious errors between Danish and French cooking that Paul saw, but I also know that every competitive reality show is also an entertainment show first and foremost, so I think Rahul got a second chance that others may have not.

Hooray for Ruby! I just love how snarky she stays in every situation, whether she's having a good week or a bad week, and that carries her through. She and I are alike in that way.
posted by xingcat at 8:39 AM on October 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

I wished they had done patisserie week this week and danish week next week. Patisserie week seems far more expected to me and putting the week that was challenging to so many bakers-I mean I don't remember a more abysmal showstopper performance from all of the competitors-later seems like it would be a better idea.

I also suspect if they reversed the order of those two weeks, Manon would still be with us and my biggest sadness about her leaving is I really wanted to see what she could do with patisserie.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:01 AM on November 15, 2018

The wikipedia page for smørrebrød gave me this wonderful factoid: a traditional topping combo is a layer of liver pâté topped with a slice of salt beef and a slice of meat aspic. The name of this smørrebrød is "veterinarian's midnight snack."
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:04 PM on November 26, 2018 [6 favorites]

The name of this smørrebrød is "veterinarian's midnight snack."

oh my god
(also i want this)
posted by halation at 10:32 AM on November 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

I thought it was very sweet that everyone wore Hawaiian shirts in honor of John.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:16 PM on January 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

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