The Great British Bake Off: Pastry Week
November 2, 2022 2:38 AM - Season 13, Episode 8 - Subscribe

The bakers tackle vol-au-vents, a delicious savoury snack and a 3D pie-scape depicting their favourite childhood story. Who will pieoneer to the semi-final?

Please note that terrible pun was copied from the show! 😂
posted by ellieBOA (22 comments total)
I wasn't surprised who went home and who was Star Baker. Maxy had a really bad week, which is a shame. She was on my list for the final.

But I'm really losing my love for this show. The bakers are all lovely people but the challenges are getting worse and worse--either too over the top or not really baking at all. Spring rolls for the technical? 8 pies for the showstopper? Really short time limits? Why not just go back to basics? Why should all the bakers be stressed out for hours and hours? There seems to be very little joy in Bake Off these days.
posted by ceejaytee at 6:10 AM on November 2, 2022 [10 favorites]

The challenges were awful this week, the only decent one was the vol-au-vents but then they weren’t given enough time. I’m veering into hate watching when I love the contestants and that makes me so sad! My heart broke for Maxy when she was in tears so much this week.
posted by ellieBOA at 7:36 AM on November 2, 2022 [8 favorites]

I think the producers would do well to go back and watch some of the early seasons as I agree that they seem to have forgotten what attracted people to the show.
I think the choice of hosts is the principal thing strangling the show. The strained polite laughter as the bakers are trying to concentrate on a stressful task and Noel or Matt barge in with their whimsy is pretty cringe inducing.
I don’t know what my prescription would be. Maybe it’s just time to bring it to a close. They’ve had a good run.
posted by chill at 1:09 AM on November 3, 2022 [6 favorites]

There's a new article in The Guardian about the show. I especially agree with the last paragraph, about going back to basics.
posted by ceejaytee at 10:57 AM on November 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

Thanks for that link, ceejaytee. That piece said a lot I was thinking. Example: Repeat some challenges from past years. It’s fine! Maybe there’s a limit, but it’s better than the ridiculous set-ups we’ve seen this year.
posted by fruitslinger at 7:17 PM on November 3, 2022 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I think I miss the episodes that made me want to go out and get something special from the local patisserie or at least a slice of cake from the grocery store or something, because there was usually something from every episode that I could look at and go "yes, that is a damn fine looking mille-feuille and now I want one" or "mmm, bread, I should go to the neighborhood bakery and get a half loaf of something hearty".

I dunno, these past few seasons have been straying from that waistline-increasing ideal. I still appreciate the bakers, but so much of the actual baking is verging into that weird category of baking-as-art that I can take or leave, usually.

And yeah, the vol-au-vents could have been a perfect example of that sort of thing, but instead they just sort of rushed the bakers through it, so what, only one of the pastries had enough time to cook, and even theirs re-liquified the praline in the bottom? I mean, I assume because it was hot, but I suppose the custard could have rehydrated it.
posted by Kyol at 6:04 AM on November 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

What the frack was going on this week? Or any week, but particularly in the showstopper section, my head was spinning. What were they baking? What was the theme? Eight pies? How much time?

Anf the judges' comments -- dry, dry, dry! Do they ever wonder WHY all these fine amateur bakers are turning out these crap bakes, are stressed and crying while doing their best to be perfect?

All the joy, fun and pleasure has gone out of this show. Thank the Universe I have some of the earlier series on DVD, and discovered the first three series on Hulu.

Honestly, I feel so sorry for these wonderful bakers and wish people would wise up and cease to apply -- I mean it's a cake plate and a bouquet of flowers if you win. Maybe you get a one off cookbook deal. It's not worth it. And it's not worth watching anymore.
posted by alwayson_slightlyoff at 10:30 AM on November 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

Yet another technical that has me going "wtf?!" The times and the challenges are just too awful this season. If I didn't feel so badly for the bakers, I could hate watch. As it is it's just like I'm hurting myself watching this each week hoping this episode will somehow be enjoyable and these bakers will actually be given a chance to show what they can do. I'll stick it out till the end of the season, but this is a wrap for me. Such a shame.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:55 AM on November 4, 2022

Or any week, but particularly in the showstopper section, my head was spinning. What were they baking? What was the theme? Eight pies? How much time?

What annoys me the most about these sorts of showstoppers is that, regardless of how good anything tastes, they look gawdawful. I don't want a pastry painted with blue food dye or sprayed with silver spray paint, ever. I don't care if every single series pastry week ends with the showstopper being the same as previous years, as long the bakers are generally making enticing and attractive pastries.

(I told my partner that my storybook theme would have been Harold and the Purple Crayon, and I would have made the Nine Types of Pies Harold Likes Best.)

I have a hard time believing the people producing this show eat food.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:13 PM on November 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

Yeah. It's been trending this way for a while, but ridiculous construction builds, absurd time constraints, all adds up to a show where it's rare to see people actually demonstrate mastery - instead they're just given opportunities to fail instead of opportunities to succeed.

I remember early seasons where people would have time to whip up some spun-sugar birds nests, or just whack out some macarons to decorate their bakes, and that was totally delightful. And now the show is just like "haha suckers you don't even have enough time to bake what we demand of you, let's find out who cries first!"

Big shudders when Janusz spraypainted his pie. Ugh.
posted by entropone at 6:05 AM on November 5, 2022 [3 favorites]

And now the show is just like "haha suckers you don't even have enough time to bake what we demand of you, let's find out who cries first!"

Nailed It! with better bakers and a bit more time, and less pure comedy. But not enough.

The technical is just going to be a non-baking thing now, I guess; this portion of the show is morphing into the inverse of Top Chef. Instead of cooks who bake, it's bakers who cook.

In any case, there comes a time when a franchise outlives its usefulness. The name is there, people are going through the motions, a few traditions stick around, but the core of what made the thing the thing is dead or dying. GBBO kept one person from the get-go (arguably though, the worst one to keep), the format (mostly), and the location... but lost a lot more.

Let's see Syabira win. Then give GBBO a damn rest, take a few years off. Start over with new judges and hosts. As an ongoing concern, the ratings are probably just fine, but the show... sigh.
posted by hijinx at 6:50 AM on November 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

I agree with basically everything posted above, and also have to say cheers for Abdul, hanging on week after week. I was sad to see Maxy go, think Janusz started strong but is less impressive as the weeks go on, and I'm rooting for Syabira for sure. Her flavors always sound delightful.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:15 AM on November 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'm rooting hard for Syabira, and sad for Maxy. I'm also completely not about the lingering shots of Maxy's tears. I wanted Mel and Sue to swoop in and start cursing and saying brand names to ruin that footage. Old bakeoff would never have edited it like that.

Some of those pies and vol-au-vents looked delicious, and I wanted to eat many of them. It was nice to be excited about the bakes again from home. It's a shame the judges could barely say anything nice. What the hell, bakeoff.
posted by j.r at 12:35 PM on November 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don't disagree with any of the above - I would prefer a show with the off the wall, unnecessarily difficult challenges swapped out for ones that gave the bakers the best chance to shine. I would prefer the editing focus more on the bakes that go well, and less on people being upset.

But I also still feel like the bakers seem to be having a good time overall, and I am still enjoying it.

I did really dislike Prue asking Abdul when he was going to be star baker before the signature. Excuse me, rude. You know you are out of line when Noel has to call you out.

Poor Maxy really had an awful week, that was a shame. But we're at the point were I am unwilling to part with any of the remaining contestants.

I did laugh that Sandro's showstopper pies didn't work out but his ice cream did, after last week when he was the only one to succeed at the ice cream cone technical. Give this man an ice cream shop!

I have just given up on the technicals being any good. Those looked more like egg rolls than spring rolls to me, but maybe that's a UK Chinese food vs American Chinese food thing? And I am desperately curious about the fate of Janusz' missing spring roll.
posted by the primroses were over at 6:20 PM on November 5, 2022 [2 favorites]

Oh hey, Janusz took to tiktok to apologize to the people who live in his phone and bring some closure to spring roll gate - he still doesn't know what happened to #8 though.
posted by the primroses were over at 6:35 PM on November 5, 2022 [6 favorites]

I have just given up on the technicals being any good. Those looked more like egg rolls than spring rolls to me, but maybe that's a UK Chinese food vs American Chinese food thing?

Egg rolls are a Chinese-American invention from New York- I don't know if they've spread to other parts of the world. They're made with egg and typically have a pebbly texture. Egg rolls are always fried, while spring rolls can be fried, baked, steamed, or uncooked.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:31 PM on November 5, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yeah Prue's spring rolls looked to have that pebbly/bubbly texture to me, vs the smoother texture I expect in a spring roll. But maybe whoever made the demo plate for Prue and Paul also had trouble with too much water in the dough. Or, maybe I don't see good.
posted by the primroses were over at 4:46 AM on November 6, 2022

This episode was simply terrible from start to finish. It’s like you can actually see the train flying off the tracks now. Spring rolls? Really? And, yeah, they weren’t exactly spring rolls. Then again, the tacos weren’t tacos, the refried beans weren’t refried beans, etc. etc.

As we were watching this episode, we all started wondering if Paul himself could actually perform the challenges acceptably within the silly time constraints. I seriously doubt he could. It really makes no sense to have such tight time constraints, anyway. It would be exceedingly rare that a baker would have to work so quickly on anything more complex than a basic batch of cookies.

We also feel like there has to be an outtake reel of contestants telling Noel to just fuck-off with his inane and distracting bullshit.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:31 PM on November 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

Well, I'll slightly defend the timing constraints that it helps separate out the bakers who can figure out a plan and work to it and execute versus bakers who just fly by the seat of their pants and figure it'll all work out in the end, like poor Maxy this week.

I think there's definitely an argument that the scheduling can sometimes be poorly planned, when nobody manages to make a bake, or there are distinct phases that need to be hit and, congratulations, simply baking the cake takes 30 minutes of a 35 minute task, the cake will never be cooled down enough to be decorated, but as something to filter out the great from the merely good, eh, it's not necessarily an unreasonable metric.

I mean, it also factors into the bakers' design choices - should they make a half dozen merely good items and maybe not even have enough time for all of them, or should they focus on 4 really great items that they can finesse to a high standard?
posted by Kyol at 7:33 AM on November 7, 2022

Yeah, after this season, I can't imagine I'll prioritize watching this show. It's turned into an annoying American-style competition show. The only thing missing is seeing the contestants turn on each other. Thank goodness we haven't seen that yet.

I'm giggling about Janusz's missing spring roll - did he eat it? It's very sketchy, and he kinda gives a wink at the camera earlier. I dunno... The scores from the technical seem to not matter at all anyway. Judging seems to be about favorites and gut instincts rather than any grading system.

Prue: "Bakers need to use the right amount of water so their spring roll wrappers aren't bubbly."
Also Prue: Here are my spring rolls that are the bar by which we will judge spring rolls. [displays a variety of spring rolls with many many bubbles.]

At least previously, the judge whose technical challenge it was, would have made one of their own recipes. Quite certain that's no longer the case.

Should have made this episode a drinking game: Drink every time you hear the word 'perfection' or 'perfect'.
posted by hydra77 at 9:19 AM on November 7, 2022

At least previously, the judge whose technical challenge it was, would have made one of their own recipes. Quite certain that's no longer the case

Is that true? They always referred to the samples as their own (and I think they still do) but I think the samples we see them talking about in the mini tent have always been made by assistants, just according to the judge's recipe. I could be wrong though.

I feel like on the one hand many of these complaints about bake off have been around for years, and I think some of them have always been true (the technicals being idiotic? The judges, and especially Paul, being mean or way too harsh? Looks-focused challenges that I'd never want to make or eat? Extreme provincialism and cringy moments whenever venturing out of the UK? Nattering about perfection? Not new to the post-BBC show!) But the timing really has gotten ridiculous, challenges have gotten less appealing - I feel like there was a golden point somewhere between the endless Swiss rolls of the past and the endless "illusion" stuff of today - and the hosts really have stopped being pleasant to watch. The atmosphere does feel less light and nice. (And even though people used to complain about them endlessly, I did like the history segments.)

Still, it's always felt a bit par for the course - bake off was always like a mostly great meal I had to pick bits I didn't like out of.
posted by trig at 10:30 AM on November 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

The Not-So-Great Defector Bake Off Trips Into The Deep Fryer Of Pastry Week: I’m also bummed about this because I would like to talk about baking, and yet every week we are not given the opportunity to do so. I do feel, more and more, like this season is a prolonged prank. I think we are not as good as the bakers in the tent, but I don’t know how we could possibly know that since it seems that we are never baking!
posted by the primroses were over at 1:21 PM on November 11, 2022

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