The Great British Bake Off: Dessert Week
November 11, 2020 6:00 PM - Season 11, Episode 8 - Subscribe

It's Dessert Week and the bakers tackle a miniature cheesecake signature, a 17th-century technical and a showstopping jelly art dessert cake, for a place in the semi-final
posted by jeather (44 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't really have anything to say about this episode. I found it really dull, and I struggle to really care about the contestants this season. (My favourite was only my favourite because of her cat.)
posted by jeather at 6:02 PM on November 11, 2020

It really feels like somehow they've managed to edit out all of the little baking facts this season - there are times when we get to the end of something and you realize you didn't see a solid half of how a baker made something.

I dunno. It's weird.
posted by Kyol at 7:00 PM on November 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

I am fully rooting for Hermine to win it all after this episode. "It's... Anglo saxon."
Kyol, I feel the same thing! I think we're losing a lot of the decoration and construction to contrived "you have one minute left" drama-making.
posted by Rora at 7:17 PM on November 11, 2020 [7 favorites]

Yeah I am rooting for Hermine but mostly faut de mieux.

I did disagree with her comment on génoise, Laura is speaking English, not French. She is not using the standard English pronunciation, which is more similar but still different than French.
posted by jeather at 8:11 PM on November 11, 2020

Feels like the final will be Hermine, Peter, and someone who isn’t going to win. Dave is boring and Laura has been on the bubble for a few episodes.

Im still finding Matt Lucas just so bad in this role. Fine when cheerily good natured but otherwise he seems to be defaulting to trying to make a three-year-old laugh. Noel’s absurdism is still funny (admittedly that’s the humor that I lean towards) but really needs to lay off the calorie etc quips; he didn’t do that in the past, right? Both getting tiresome.
posted by supercres at 10:54 PM on November 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

My interest has fallen off so badly that, instead of being awake on Friday at 4 am (when it hits Netflix in my area), sometimes it is Saturday before I recall that another episode has dropped. I could weep.

The bakes are so wierd, who would bake or eat this stuff? The lack of hygiene is appalling! Tasting spoons back in the pan or bowl, applying icing with hands, hair all over the counter! God, I hope that doesn't happen in restaurants/bakeries, I will just keep cooking at home.

Just not fun to watch, or imagine baking along. And the hosts! Good grief, where is John Cleese when you need him?
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 11:54 PM on November 11, 2020

where is John Cleese when you need him?

On Twitter being being xenophobic and complaining about political correctness I think.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:47 AM on November 12, 2020 [8 favorites]

Wow, I would have lost money on that one. When Peter said, "I think I've done enough to stay," I was like, oh honey, no. But it seemed like not a single element of that other showstopper came out right, so that must have saved him. Was interesting to watch him crack a bit, this week. He's been so unflappable up to this point.

I actually really enjoyed watching them work with the jellies and the results were pretty spectacular, visually. Most of them must have even been nice to eat, since the judges kept commenting approvingly on the textures and flavors. So it wasn't like the pastry cages, at least.

Definitely rooting for Hermine. I like her so much and she's so good!
posted by merriment at 5:17 AM on November 12, 2020 [7 favorites]

I'm sorry to have lost Marc--if his showstopper hadn't been so bad, Peter would have been gone. Hermine is now my favorite to win. I think she's fantastic. It seems like there's less focus on the bakers' personalities and how they get on with each other. When Laura talked about how sad she was when Marc was eliminated, I was surprised because I didn't see any indication that they got along at all.

I'm not sure what it is that's taking up so much of the time that used to go to the bakers interacting with each other and the actual baking and decorating, but I wish it would stop.
posted by ceejaytee at 1:11 PM on November 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yes Hermine! We're big fans of hers in our house. Such a lovely personality.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:01 PM on November 12, 2020

I know they always do it, but the technical challenge was so dumb. Telling them to steam their cakes for an amount of time, which it transpires is 2 hours, almost the entire time they had to bake! Of course they got it wrong. This isnt like baking a cake, where they can have a feeling for how long something might need, steaming is much less common so they not unreasonly dont know how much this stupid pudding that is somehow Prues favourite needs to steam!

I do know what you mean about sometimes feeling a lack of connection. I think they are all really knackered this year, i think the process must be incredibly wearing
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:42 PM on November 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

When Laura talked about how sad she was when Marc was eliminated, I was surprised because I didn't see any indication that they got along at all.

I don't think this is necessarily bad editing - it's just that they live together full-time this season, so they interact a lot off-camera. And the sadness wouldn't just be "he won't be here during filming anymore," it's "he's leaving the dorm we all live in." There's just a lot we aren't seeing, way more than normal.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:50 PM on November 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

I think the weirdest bit of editing (that I've noticed) is that they show the hosts saying "one minute left" and then they show the bakers frantically doing last-minute stuff that must have taken 10-15 minutes, to give the false impressions that, eg, everyone's only taking the jelly out of the mould with less than a minute left. It's silly.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:32 PM on November 12, 2020 [9 favorites]

I knew what Sussex Pond Pudding was and now I cannot figure out how or why. Maddening.

I would have liked more of the baking in this episode, for sure. And I really wish they wouldn’t run that spoiler reel at the start of the episode.
posted by janell at 10:06 PM on November 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

Christ, yes! I hate that. Presumably too late now for re-editing but sent them a Twitter whinge.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:15 AM on November 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

When everyone fails the technical, I think that points to a problem in the conception of the challenge rather than errors by the bakers. In their desire to be cryptic, they gave just a little too little information somewhere.
posted by QuakerMel at 1:00 PM on November 13, 2020 [16 favorites]

Yeah, you really cannot expect people to just guess the cook time for something like that. Of course none of them knew to cook it for two hours, because what else do you cook for two hours?

I have to admit I'm intrigued by the whole concept of those puddings, as a big fan of lemon-based desserts. I can't imagine trying to make one, but I'm wondering if you could just cook lemons in the filling mixture for hours (maybe in a slow cooker?) and then slice and serve them...
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:32 PM on November 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, if people failed because they didn’t STEAM THE WHOLE LEMON for long enough, that’s not on them, that’s on you.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:11 PM on November 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

I’m fully over Noel’s sexual harassment of the contestants. It’s super creepy.
posted by mochapickle at 5:14 PM on November 13, 2020 [9 favorites]

The recipe for the Sussex Pond Pudding on the GBBO website is clearly a bit different than the contestants' incomplete recipe. It uses vegetable suet (which I presume you could replace with Crisco), and only puts half a lemon in the pudding, with these somewhat confusing directions:

One lemon half at a time, place the cut side down on the work surface and make two horizontal cuts: one quarter of the way down and three-quarters of the way down the lemon half, cutting almost but not all the way through. Rotate the lemon through 180°, still facing downwards, and make a similar cut halfway down, in the opposite direction to the other two – you’ll end up with a concertina-like lemon half

My son wants to make these this weekend, although we'll probably cheat and use pre-made pastry. If we do, I'll report our result.
posted by ShooBoo at 5:45 PM on November 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

There’s also a Mary Berry recipe on the BBC site, and it has a much more reasonable one lemon for a group-size pudding, and steams for 3.5 hours!!!
posted by janell at 7:44 PM on November 13, 2020

Yeah it's an indictment of the technical when they all fail. It's no fun to watch everyone faceplant either, clearly that's on the instructions, do to have them bemoan the failure was a bit rich.
posted by Carillon at 8:02 PM on November 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

I agree with all of you about the weird editing! But the best editing moment this episode was definitely the following (paraphrased):

Hermine, with all the side eye: Jelly is...awfully Anglo Saxon.

David: I'm so excited to eat all this jelly!

As for where all the time goes if they're not actually showing the bakes and the bakers interacting, it's all those bits that Noel and Matt do. The spoon thing didn't work for me at all, and yeah can we not talk about seeing the stressed-out 20-year-old naked thanks? I don't know why all the time calls have to be a skit. It's a relaxing baking competition (well, relaxing for me), not a sketch comedy show!

My main whinge this week is that none of these bakes looked appetizing to me. Yes, I'm a monster who doesn't like cheesecake, but otherwise I'm sure my Americanness is showing. Piles of custard and jelly and mousse, steamed suet with a whole lemon inside...I'll take a brownie instead please?

Sad to see Marc go today. Peter really really wants to win and I could see him relax a bit once Marc got his critiques. I wonder how loopy everyone will be next week for the semifinal! Hermine is the best balance of skill and calm left in the tent, so I think she'll win.
posted by j.r at 8:17 PM on November 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

Yeah, the host bits just aren't working. Sue and Mel and even Sandi most of the time kept things fun but they were more about framing and showcasing the bakers. There was a lot more generosity and charm in that approach, instead of now when it's Noel and Matt constantly calling attention to themselves.

This show is supposed to be relaxing but I just want to stab them with something and make them go away.
posted by mochapickle at 8:40 PM on November 13, 2020 [5 favorites]

(Also I am on weirdly high doses of steroid medication right now and the nurses warned me about random rages so.)
posted by mochapickle at 8:42 PM on November 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

Also why are they still on their bullshit about how a cake needs to be fully frosted? Like maybe I'm insane but there's been a trend for the naked side cake for at least a decade, this isn't new.
posted by Carillon at 9:17 PM on November 13, 2020

I think the naked sides issue with Laura’s cake was because it had been cut into a disc. Un- and underfrosted styles can look great for bakes in round tins because the sides are smooth, but when the layer is cut around the sides, the lovely moist cake shrivels into dry crumbles from the exposure.
posted by mochapickle at 10:13 PM on November 13, 2020 [4 favorites]

I thought Peter was going to go, too. I really liked Marc (although after he introduced himself as Marc/Hamish in the first episode, my partner and I just continued to call him Hamish).

I can't stand Noel. I don't find him funny, and even when he's not sexually harassing contestants he seems very much in the way. It gives me, like, vicarious kitchen hives to see him always standing exactly where you wouldn't want someone in your kitchen at that moment. Matt's grown on me, though. The way he pokes fun at the judges feels a little Mel and Sue-ish. I wish even one of the hosts still provided moral support like Mel and Sue used to.

My partner and I both yelled A LOT while Paul and Prue were judging the technical. Clearly they didn't give the bakers enough time. Weren't Mary's technicals more about demonstrating particular techniques? This one (actually not just this one) seemed like stunt bakes chosen for their obscurity, and nothing else.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 10:16 PM on November 13, 2020 [3 favorites]

Also, is it just me, or do the judges not explain why things went wrong anymore? I used to learn a lot from Bake Off - e.g., it's been a crash course in bread baking. But I was expecting them to explain, e.g., why Peter's cheesecakes collapsed, and they didn't. The critiques seem to be more focused on what went wrong, without any information about how to prevent that in future.
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 10:18 PM on November 13, 2020 [9 favorites]

Totally agree that if all five bakers fail your technical, then your instructions were a failure. It would have been nice to acknowledge that somehow.

I adore Prue, so being reminded that 1) she was 80, 2) loves neon citrus colors and 3) is a "hot-stuff gardener" was fantastic. Also, she's a very youthful-looking 80. Good for her.

Peter is my current favorite, and I was absolutely prepared for him to go home in this episode. He had a very bumpy week. Meanwhile, Hermine seems to have fully solved any problems she had with the time/format. She's definitely my favorite to win, but I still like all of the group who are left.

Mr. Andre Spoon did not work for me. The endless thistle-porn shots did work for me. I love thistles!
posted by gladly at 9:23 AM on November 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

I hadn't seen any GBBO since it left the BBC and lost all the good hosting/judging personalities, but 2020 has been a year that requires extra comfort viewing and I was curious about the quarantine filming. So I started late and I've just caught up.

I do quite like all the bakers, and Prue is better than I expected, but the male judge remains lame and I don't care for the hosts - I hate the prop comedy. Andre the sexually harassing spoon was awful, but the opening sketches are also unbearable. They also seem obnoxious towards the contestants whereas Sue and Mel always felt empathetic if occasionally a bit too underfoot.

I was amazed how well all their showstoppers came out really. Granted, Marc and Peter didn't quite get theirs to work, but they still looked impressive. After the utter debacle of some of the ice cream cakes, I was glad this went better.

I am team Hermine, for sure, but I always love all the contestants.
posted by the primroses were over at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've given up on this season and consoled myself with a re-watch of all the Mel and Sue seasons. Back when the show was lovely and warm and charming and had a heart.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 6:21 PM on November 14, 2020

Yeah, can these creep-o hosts.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:04 PM on November 14, 2020

janell, re: I knew what Sussex Pond Pudding was and now I cannot figure out how or why. Maddening.--maybe from Laurie Colwin? She wrote about it in Home Cooking.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:21 PM on November 14, 2020

Two more thoughts:

1) Based on Marc's bakes in previous weeks and his comments, I gather he's a vegetarian. I get that you probably can't be a viable contestant on GBBO if, say, you're vegan or need to be gluten-free, as dairy, eggs, and flour are expected parts of baking. But do they give any accommodations for religious dietary restrictions? Allergies? There have been a few contestants who observe religions where you don't eat pig, so would they have avoided assigning things that require it? Maybe Marc tried to use vegetable-derived gelatine but it could be like baking gluten-free where it's just harder to get the texture and balance right, hence all the issues he had. And then he had to use animal fat in the technical anyway.

2) Do the non-showstopper bakes even count anymore? It's been multiple weeks in a row where it seems like the person cut and the star baker have been determined purely by the showstopper. What is the point of the whole first day then?
posted by j.r at 9:40 PM on November 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Every single lemon in the technical challenge was raw. This was a problem that could have been eliminated with a simple “steam for approx. 2 hrs.” The fact that they didn’t give any guidance whatsoever is a travesty. Probably the worst episode of GBBO ever. (With the exception of the Showstopper.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:14 AM on November 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

I knew what Sussex Pond Pudding was and now I cannot figure out how or why. Maddening.

I dunno about you, but I learned about it from No Reservations: Narnia and I want to try one very badly. (I feel like steamed puddings are poor candidates for gluten-free flour substitutions so I haven't tried.)
posted by restless_nomad at 7:13 AM on November 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

I really like Matt Lucas and don't find him creepy at all. Noel I could take or leave, but don't see him as creepy either.

The steamed pudding technical reminds me of the povitica challenge in Series 5 where the bakers needed to get the bread in the oven ASAP and basically all of them failed because they didn't know--except Chetna who had made a variant for her signature. You could really argue that was MORE unfair because UK bakers are more likely to be familiar with a classic British recipe like that pudding than a Central European one. And I guess I give Prue the benefit of the doubt here and imagine she was thinking "What a classic British recipe, they should know this", not "aww yeah, this is really going to screw them all over". Like, on the Bake Down podcast Ian (from a past season) mentioned he had a "12 Classic British Puddings" poster or something that featured that pudding so it can't have been THAT wild? Though as the show gets older the contestants are less and less likely to be familiar with these more old-fashioned recipes. I guess it is a issue of whether you think they should be familiar with British baking history, modern fancy baking techniques, or more esoteric (for the UK) baked goods. I feel like whichever way the show goes there are always complaints.
posted by Anonymous at 5:08 AM on November 16, 2020

Personally, a lot of modern (or at least Instagram-friendly) baking I see are trendy unicorn and rainbow cakes and stuff that looks good but does not appear to require much technical aptitude unless you decide to use a jaconde or genoise or something. One of the most disappointing bits of Japanese week was that it really offered a chance for challenges that WERE new and modern (outside of Japan) and I feel the judges are so Europe-focused that they really didn't have the creativity for that.
posted by Anonymous at 5:18 AM on November 16, 2020

Sorry to spam, but one more thing: now that I think about it, the fact that Paul and Prue did not go "come ON" to that unicorn cake in a past season is an indicator that they are TOTALLY not plugged into the Instagram baking scene, because otherwise that should have been considered an immediate creativity fail.
posted by Anonymous at 5:27 AM on November 16, 2020

I really want to try making the Sussex Pond pudding! It looks strange but delicious. I think it would be good with a Meyer lemon.
I do agree though that it was ridiculous to not give them more time. I think English bakers would reasonably know that steaming a pudding takes for-freaking-ever, but even two hours would probably not be enough to really soften a lemon.

I actually enjoyed this episode—I usually hate the showstoppers, it’s a bunch of elaborate nonsense for no reason, but the gelatin cakes turned out so lovely!
I so don’t care about the fake drama and failed bakes—I want to see people do well, and some of them doing exceptionally well! #teamHermine

I also miss the little segments where they’d go see a historical dessert or regional specialty being made. I agree with I Love Bananas, I think I’d rather rewatch the old Mel and Sue seasons from now on.
posted by exceptinsects at 8:09 AM on November 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

I made a single Sussex Pond Pudding following and halving GBBO's recipe yesterday, although I used pre-made pie pastry which I just folded over the top and used dark brown sugar instead of muscovado. It was meh. The pastry was soggy and not browned (likely due to the the pie pastry not as conducive to steaming as the suet based pastry in the recipe), and the filling, which is just butter, sugar and lemon, was ok. It was easy to put together, wasn't horrible, but not something I'd make again, especially with the long two hour steaming time.
posted by ShooBoo at 3:33 PM on November 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

Feels like the final will be Hermine, Peter, and someone who isn’t going to win. Dave is boring and Laura has been on the bubble for a few episodes.

I wanted Marc to stick around. Hermine is a deserving finalist, though. Peter is obviously really good but in a way that makes me inexplicably dislike him.
posted by atoxyl at 9:45 PM on November 16, 2020

Def. Team Hermine! Though I will miss Marc. I like that they have contestants with limb differences without making a huge deal of it, plus he just seemed nice (and vegetarian!). I think the final will be Hermine, Peter, and Dave--Laura has seemed too iffy to make it to the end (I was shocked when Lottie went instead of her).
posted by n. moon at 10:30 AM on November 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

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