The Great British Bake Off: Patisserie Week
November 17, 2021 7:13 AM - Season 12, Episode 9 - Subscribe

It's the Bake Off semi-final, and time to test the remaining bakers' abilities in patisserie. There's a delicate layered slice that demands precision, a regional French classic, and then the bakers must create an opulent entremets display.
posted by ellieBOA (48 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What a shocker!

I thought these were good, interesting challenges for the semifinal (the showstopper only a little contrived to add complexity).
posted by janell at 8:30 AM on November 17, 2021 [5 favorites]

Huge shock! I was spoiled for the result this morning unfortunately but still a good episode, thrilled for Christelle!
posted by ellieBOA at 8:58 AM on November 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed Jurgen just deciding to walk away from Noel when he was trying to riff with him. Always a bit awks when those two are together. (Jurgen was full of praise for Noel and Matt on Twitter though).
Seems like the right result. Chigs and Chrystell knocked it out of the park and Jurgen seemed bottom of the pack on the main two bakes (the technical rarely seems to count). But man, it feels like any other year, any other day even, he’d have been in the final.
posted by chill at 12:43 PM on November 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

Yes, I was surprised but, technically adept though Jurgen's bakes were this week, they lacked joy and the sense of fun the other bakers brought to the table. I am happy at the final three and any one of them can win and I'll be happy (although, as a Frank Zappa fan, I am leaning towards Giuseppe...)
posted by essexjan at 1:50 PM on November 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

Honestly I wondered for a minute if they might just bring all 4 to the final, but I guess that would be too much of a format break. It didn't feel like there was much to choose between the bakers this week, they are clearly excellent.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:33 AM on November 18, 2021 [6 favorites]

Also... Chigs has some experience before this, right? I just don't know that I believe he has become this good in a year. He must at least be a proficient chef...
posted by Cannon Fodder at 2:33 AM on November 18, 2021

That was surprising. Not over the course of the episode, it was clear where it was going with the dumb handshake stuff (I hate the handshakes), but over the course of the season.

I know I complained about them deciding based on overall skill last week, and I'm not complaining about them not doing it this week, just pointing out that they do it not based on anything in particular (and this probably doomed Jurgen, who surely would have not lost to Lizzie).
posted by jeather at 6:19 AM on November 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

I think the baker who should have gone home this week is Paul Hollywood. He really turned me off this week, with the terrible 3 handshake snub, what seemed (to me at least) talking over Prue, and generally being, well, Paul Hollywood. I watch the Canadian and Kiwi versions of this show and the judges, especially in the Canadian show, are so much better it's making Paul harder and harder to take.

I'm not quite sure why Jurgen got sent home over Chigs or Giuseppe. I love them all, honestly, but Prue loved Jurgen's signature and he won the technical, while Chigs made total hash of it. They agreed that the flavors of his entremet were excellent and complained about the pale green color? They complained that Giuseppe's entremet was flavorless except for the center but his green was brighter so that made it better? Jurgen's centerpiece was the best after Crystelle's--Chigs's tree was basic and Giuseppe made a couple of cylinders out of puffed rice and the glaze on Chigs's apples was pretty rough while Jurgen made perfect little entremets. It doesn't add up for me. Crystelle was clearly at the top, no doubt. But the guy who got sent home made the one bake that only Paul didn't care for.

In a better world, all four would have made it to the final, with Crystelle at the top and the other three too close to separate.
posted by ceejaytee at 7:03 AM on November 18, 2021 [16 favorites]

He must at least be a proficient chef...

I think so. Whenever there's a savory bake I always track how they hold chef knives, and what size they use. The people who are at sea with savory tend to use tiny paring knives and hold them like they're scared of them. IIRC Chigs used a proper knife with a pinch grip.

Color me surprised as well. I thought for sure Giuseppe was in trouble, and also had the thought that they'd all go through.
posted by supercres at 9:43 AM on November 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

That long, long pause between "The baker who's going home is..." and the name being announced. Based on past occasions when that's happened, I thought for sure it was going to end with "nobody! We're going to have all four of you in the final!" so it felt downright cruel when he announced a name instead.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 9:58 AM on November 18, 2021 [3 favorites]

I dunno, all I can say is Chig's signature made me _uncomfortably_ hungry for something I only saw on TV.

And yeah, I guess Jürgen's problem this week was that when everybody else stepped up just that little bit extra, he kind of kept on keepin' on? But yeah, between Jürgen's technical and Chig's signature, I don't envy having to judge.

Also it sort of seemed like the showstopper was entirely reasonable in this episode. Yeah, it's a lot of fussy repeats of a fussy desert with a lot of fussy little layers, but it's something that _damn straight_ I see two dozen of when I go to my local patisserie. Yeah ok the baked centerpiece was a bit of extra frill, but that seemed like everybody knew the requirement was the entremets and not the centerpiece. Also Crystelle was 100% right that a couple of colors in the merengue looks super impressive.
posted by Kyol at 12:49 PM on November 18, 2021

> In a better world, all four would have made it to the final, with Crystelle at the top and the other three too close to separate.

I really thought they were going to do that. I was expecting Matt to be like, "And the person going home this week is... no one." That would have been a nice change but then I remembered anytime this show does something out of the ordinary, like booting two people, they broadcast it.

I defended the handshake (previously) but I thought the three this episode were overkill. Prue also made a comment about how she'd give a handshake if she could and I don't see why she can't. Maybe she should come up with her own thing, like handing the person who just got a handshake from the Bread Man some hand sanitizer.

This Eater article touches on the show turning into "The Paul Hollywood Show" and how fans can't stand Matt Lucas.

Talent wise, Matt is actually my second favorite part of the show after Prue Leith. Noel I find grating. I waffle on Paul week to week. It has kind of become "The Paul Hollywood Show" in a lot of ways but he is the only remaining element from the original show which is probably one of the reasons he stayed while the ladies left. He probably knew it would gradually become his show, but in some ways isn't it kind of earned? I don't know.
posted by guiseroom at 10:03 AM on November 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

I did not see that coming, honestly. The three handshakes bit leaving out Jürgen felt like the kind of dumb thing they do to try to create suspense - I liked Chigs interview bit afterwards saying "handshakes mean nothing this week" or similar. And then when Paul gave his speech about the journey Chigs has been on during the showstopper, I thought for sure that was the nail in the coffin.

Shows what I know, ha.

I liked all the final bakers and they all did well, so I can't be too annoyed.

But also, in a couple years time, my Swiss cheese memory may still identify Jürgen as the winner of this season if asked.

(On a sidenote, Chigs' glasses steaming up repeatedly was extremely relatable.)

I somehow did not realize til this week that the finale in the US will fall on the Friday after our Thanksgiving, which is the coziest day of the year and very appropriate. Looking forward to leftovers and pajamas and bake off.
posted by the primroses were over at 10:45 AM on November 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

I thought the edgic of the episode was leaning towards Chigs going home but now I think it was building the narrative towards his eventual win in the finale.
posted by guiseroom at 12:13 PM on November 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm amazed at the high standard this week. How great is it to see everyone succeed? If there was a time to take all four to the final, this was it. Since that wasn't happening, I was sure Giuseppe was in trouble, since doesn't taste usually win over presentation? But I also thought his leaning tower looked too simple compared to Jurgen's stunning gate made of biscuits. I liked Chigs's apples--they had style!--but Christelle's was a work of art. But I was so much more taken aback by the week Lizzie got cut; I thought for sure one of the continental Europeans would leave then because her showstopper cake was so beautiful and exuberant.

I enjoy the energy of the three who made it. Christelle and Giuseppe have been favorites of mine the whole season and Chigs is downright adorable. But I can't help but think if Jurgen had made it through, he'd probably win, just through sheer steadiness. How many excellent bakers have cracked up in the final? I'm so nervous after seeing the preview with...
preview-only spoilerGiuseppe forgetting to turn on his oven!

Paul is definitely tired, but it is fun in its own way to complain about him. He's been remarkably restrained this season when it comes to unfamiliar flavors, and the vegan bakes, at least. Prue has grown on me. I actually laugh at Matt's jokes sometimes, and he has a more kind vibe, so I'd keep him over Noel. I agree with whoever said Noel doesn't make much sense as a host since he doesn't seem to enjoy baked goods! He's just there to be weird. That's another huge reason I miss Lizzie--her sense of humor actually kept Noel on his toes and I loved it.
posted by j.r at 2:10 PM on November 19, 2021 [7 favorites]

That episode broke my heart in both good and bad ways.

The bad: the handshake snub, noel rubbing in the handshake snub during the technical, the color snub, asking for baked centerpiece and then not tasting the damn thing

the good: the bakes, and crystalle's reaction to star baker and the phone call, Jurgen's parting words (oh my heart)

If ever there was a time to break the format and have 4 finalists, this was the time.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:44 PM on November 19, 2021 [9 favorites]

I also like Matt as opposed to Noel who at best I tolerate and at worst seriously annoys me.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:45 PM on November 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

I found Crystalle’s Star Baker reaction phony. Paul called her Showstopper entremet flawless, and she got one of those stupid handshakes. And she was gobsmacked to get Star Baker? Nah, I don’t buy it.

She killed it though. I thought she earned her spot in the finals. Chigs too. The other two? Eh. Should have sent them both home.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 6:09 PM on November 19, 2021

Am I the only one tired of seeing rice krispy treats in showstoppers? Are they exotic enough in the UK that the judges don’t realize how simple they are? They’ve sneered at store-bought fondant but honestly marshmallows and Rice Krispies are just as bad.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:41 PM on November 19, 2021 [6 favorites]

It's kind of silly to have a portion of the showstopper be something that's meant only to look pretty and not to taste good, and that won't even be tasted by the judges - but given that they were meant only to look pretty and not to taste good, and given that the entremets took so much of the contestants' time and effort that they wouldn't have been able to do anything more elaborate for a centerpiece, and given the excellence of rice krispies treats as a light and sturdy building material.... eh, sure, why not?
posted by Jeanne at 7:19 PM on November 19, 2021

Ugh. Count me in as someone who really wanted a four-person final. I think there's no question that Jurgen was the best over a large variety of types of bakes, even though his matcha boats didn't look so special. :(
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:20 PM on November 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

This Eater article touches on the show turning into "The Paul Hollywood Show" and how fans can't stand Matt Lucas.

I don't know what the hell is wrong with those Eater writers; Matt is gentle and kind and says more things I find funny than Noel does. At this point it's clear that Noel can be a giant PITA, and though he is funny and also (I believe) a caring person his first impulse at all times is chaos. Matt is a pretty good foil to him.

I agree a group of four finalists would have been fun and entirely appropriate this time- I was expecting Chigs or Giuseppe to go home and still can't quite ascertain the reason it was Juergen.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:43 PM on November 19, 2021 [6 favorites]

This is just making me sad because we were thinking the four of them were the perfect caper movie quartet. They don't have the exacting safecracker now.
posted by queensissy at 9:03 PM on November 19, 2021 [12 favorites]

I really don’t want to give up this show, because for so long it’s been my comfort watch and I’ve seen some seasons more than once. But man, that was some bullshit. That three handshake snub was flat-out nasty, and it seemed they were honestly trying to push Jürgen out and making up reasons to do it. I’m thrilled for Christelle and Chigs, and glad to see my second fave Giuseppe, in the final, but it seems like the stuff I hate is becoming too much of the show and the stuff I like is taking a back seat…ugh, I’m very unhappy about this one.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 9:24 PM on November 19, 2021 [5 favorites]

Google spoiled this for me, so I spent the whole episode angry and anxious on Jurgen's behalf. It would've been so much worse, though, if I hadn't known and been hit by the shock of it right at the end.
posted by meese at 9:55 PM on November 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

Man what a bummer, Jurgen was amazing and I'm sad and annoyed he left. Other shows do a better job if separating out the judges personal taste versus what the contestants choose. Tom Colicchio seems to dislike okra, but he's not sending someone home if it's well done just because he didn't like it. They seem to have it out for matcha and I don't get it.
posted by Carillon at 11:01 PM on November 19, 2021 [3 favorites]

I found Crystalle’s Star Baker reaction phony.

It’s believable if you see it like someone who (wrongly) doesn’t believe in herself at all.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:45 PM on November 19, 2021 [15 favorites]

I don't love Matt as a host but I prefer him to Noel, though ideally they'd replace all four.

I'm watching the current season of the Canadian version, which I am really enjoying (season four was also notably good, seasons one and two had Dan Levy hosting and he was great), and I hear the Kiwi version is also nice so I might search that one out next.
posted by jeather at 5:20 AM on November 20, 2021

Will check the Canadian one out!
posted by ellieBOA at 6:18 AM on November 20, 2021

In a better world, all four would have made it to the final…

They did that (not for the final, though) several series ago. I think, though, it was because everyone’s bakes were equally rubbish. They then kicked two bakers out of the tent the following week, so thing got back on track.

In the end, I wasn’t surprised it was Jurgen. His show stopper really was kind of boring. I was kind of surprised Giuseppe didn’t get dinged for plainness as well, but I suppose it was an elegant plainness.

I really wish one of the bakers would just turn and tell Noel to fuck off. It’s one thing to crack wise a bit, but he also physically hangs right on top of the bakers and just keeps going on, long past any supposed humor was exhausted.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:26 PM on November 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

This was easily the most stressful semi-final. I'm happy for Christelle - her bakes have been consistently some of the most beautiful, and her flavors this week sounded delicious.

I really like Giuseppe and was rooting for him, but I was certain he was set to go home. I thought his show-stopper was the most underwhelming visually, and it apparently lacked flavor. Meanwhile I thought Jürgen's looked beautiful - the gate, the little cookie flags on the boats-- what's wrong with a light green color? And they said it tasted fantastic, and they don't even like matcha!

Lastly, I really wish they wouldn't have technicals where people who've heard of the item are at an advantage. Like, the bakers shouldn't have to guess if there are sides to the tart or not. This happens all the time with various aesthetic requirements. I'm all for having the bakers rely on their intuition for bake length/temp or how to make a custard, etc. but some of what's left unsaid seems silly.
posted by coffeecat at 2:34 PM on November 20, 2021 [5 favorites]

Lastly, I really wish they wouldn't have technicals where people who've heard of the item are at an advantage.

I’m not sure how you avoid that, though. These are, after all, accomplished bakers. I think you’d end up with a very short list of highly obscure bakes if you try to make sure no one has ever baked it.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:45 PM on November 20, 2021

They could just have clearer instructions. It's silly to judge them based on if they knew (or correctly guessed) whether the tart was supposed to have sides or not, if the instructions were ambiguous about it.
posted by j.r at 2:59 PM on November 20, 2021 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I agree with that. The vague instructions really don’t prove a thing.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:50 PM on November 20, 2021

I really enjoyed the episode because everyone did so well. My favorite bit was early, when Giuseppe said he hadn’t brought enough clothes so he had to find a shirt for this week. The next shot showed him in the background wearing a shirt Matt or Noel would have been proud to wear.

I wondered if Jurgen left in part because he isn’t as interesting as the other three - bakewise and personality wise. At this point, only Crystelle really interacts with the four hosts/judges. They sometimes seem to not have a lot of footage of Jurgen talking. I like that the show is focused on the baking and how nice everyone is but sometimes do wonder what got cut. There must be times when contestants get angry or mean.

I like both Matt and Noel. Noel can be annoying but he can also be very sweet. And I think going around to chat with each contestant during some of the stressful bakes must be hard - being on camera is as important as baking but I’m sure some contestants shut down sometimes. I’m ready for new judges, though.
posted by Sukey Says at 12:26 AM on November 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

I didn't think Jurgen's showstopper was boring. It fit with a Japanese aesthetic. He shouldn't have been dinged for that.
posted by bleary at 6:20 AM on November 21, 2021 [5 favorites]

I basically like both Matt and Noel, although they can also both be annoying. I think they're a bad combination, though: too much whimsy and they’re both instinctively comedians first rather than hosts. Just as Noel+Sandi is a different dynamic to Noel+Matt, Sandi+Matt would probably make Matt look better. A presenting duo where Matt Lucas is the sensible one is kind of weird for a mainstream light entertainment reality show.

I also can’t help noticing that a show which started out with three out of four presenters being women has ended up with three out of four being men, which seems sadly predictable.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:34 AM on November 22, 2021 [10 favorites]

Mel and Sue really worked together well and with Mary and Paul. I have not seen that synergy since they left. Clearly the hosts need to counter balance the stodgy judgement of Paul and sometimes Prue.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:59 PM on November 22, 2021

I listen to a podcast with a few of the bakers on it, and they've talked about how stamina is the secret ingredient to getting far in the show. People frequently start flagging and I honestly think Jurgen looked a bit worn out by it. The three-handshake thing wasn't going to improve his spirits, either.

FWIW the former bakers were not thrilled at the sense that Paul's critiques are valued higher than Prue's, and thought Prue's agent needed to get on the ball and find her something in the same vein as the handshake.
posted by PussKillian at 8:35 AM on November 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

Another Bake Down listener here! It’s a fun podcast, if anyone’s looking for more Bake Off content.
posted by expialidocious at 11:13 AM on November 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

I thought Giuseppe was going to get cut for the rice crispy treat tower, which probably took 10 minutes, and showed none of the technical expertise of jurgen’s Japanese gate, or crystelle’s gorgeous flowery thing. But they never even touched the structural element??? Winning the technical should be worth more. Still, happy to see both chips and crystelle in the final. Would have been happier to see all four though.
posted by skewed at 8:28 AM on November 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

ceejaytee: what seemed (to me at least) talking over Prue

I watched this again just because I've noticed Paul talking over Prue (and, in previous seasons, Mary) quite a bit, so I counted who talks over others and who gets talked over. I skipped the bit at the end after the announcement of who's going home, because there are often multiple conversations going at once; and there was a messy bit at 38:08 where Crystelle and Noel are talking over each other repeatedly and I didn't care to listen to it enough times to distentangle it all, so I just counted it as once each talking over the other person.

As for the rest of it: people who talk over other people this episode, and how often:
  • Crystelle: 3x
  • Noel: 11x
  • Chigs: 4x
  • Prue: 1x
  • Giuseppe: 1x
  • Paul: 6x
  • Jürgen: 4x
People who get talked over this episode:
  • Noel: 10x
  • Crystelle: 3x
  • Paul: 1x
  • Prue: 6x
  • Chigs: 2x
  • Jürgen: 6x
  • Giuseppe: 1x
Men talking over women: 10x.

Women talking over men: 3x.

Men talking over men: 13x.

Women talking over women: 0x.

People who Paul talked over:
  • Prue
I was surprised that Noel talked over people more often than Paul, but I guess that makes sense; I had already decided that he was frequently annoying and rarely funny.

Paul is clearly full of himself and doesn't think much of his fellow judges.

My personal theory about the three handshakes is that he just wanted to slight Jürgen because he was pissed off about finding out that he got served floor pastry. If you watch the Chigs handshake again it seems both sudden and ostentatious, like something done by a bad actor, and it doesn't help that Prue was offering up the opinion that Jürgen's bake deserved a handshake as well.

Paul could stand to talk maybe half as much. His behavior isn't doing the show many favors (nor is Noel's).
posted by johnofjack at 4:26 PM on December 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh, nice. I've always had a vague intention to go through some episodes and count how many actual words Prue gets to say vs. Paul, and how often she gets to be the camera's focus vs. him when they're on screen together, but have never gotten round to it...

I do think that just counting interruptions doesn't necessarily give the whole picture, in that (a) there are different conversational styles and in some of them taking over someone - or overlapping, to think of it another way - can be a standard way of showing engagement and enthusiasm (I think some of the more bantery conversations with Noel tend to go that way); and (b) there's a difference between someone interrupting you because they think their thoughts are more important, vs. someone interrupting you because you won't shut up or read their body language and they need to get a cake into the oven (Noel...). And between interrupting someone who's been talking, vs. interrupting the person who's just interrupted you and you're trying to complete your thought.

So I think the cases where there's an imbalance are most important. The gender imbalance; the Paul imbalance.

(I'd think the fact that women never talked over other women is a result of there being so few multiple-woman conversations at all, and Prue (a judge, and therefore Important) being one side of almost all those conversations that did occur.)

I'd be willing to bet that Paul has some screen time and voice time clauses in his contract. I think his prominence is a big mistake for the show (or for my ability to enjoy it, at least).
posted by trig at 6:11 PM on December 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'd agree that counting interruptions doesn't give the whole picture (who wouldn't want to interrupt Noel?) but I don't think I'm particularly good at divining motives, so I stuck with what I felt I could count objectively. I'd agree that finding word count for Prue vs. Paul--or time spent speaking--could be very interesting, but when I thought about watching the episode two or three times again I sighed, so I doubt I'll be digging into it myself. It could probably make an interesting chapter in someone's dissertation on power dynamics and/or gender roles in reality TV, though....
posted by johnofjack at 2:44 PM on December 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

That's an interesting look at the interruptions. Another way to parse it would be to look at the balance for each person.

Equal amounts on both sides: Noel, Crystelle, Giuseppe. Noel is a banterer and Crystelle seems to be a bit of one as well, but she gets less screen time.

Interrupters: Chigs by a factor of 2; Paul by a factor of 6.

Interrupted: Jürgen by a factor of 1.5; Prue by a factor of 6.
posted by expialidocious at 3:02 PM on December 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Still catching up, but this confirms one of my basic Bake-Off theories: DON'T PEAK TOO EARLY.

The person who gets Star Baker in the first episode almost never wins overall. Rather, the winner tends to be someone who sits in the middle through most of the season and then breaks out of the pack with a few surprises late in the season.

I think it's because being good from the start sets up too much in the way of expectations. After being Star Baker twice in a row right off the bat, anytime Jurgen was less than stellar would feel like a disappointment. You always want to be the person who goes from Good to Great rather than the person who goes from Great to Good.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 11:37 AM on December 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

I felt that too somewhat - but it's worth noting that
spoilerGiuseppe also did extremely well in the first (several) episodes.

posted by trig at 6:49 PM on December 6, 2021

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