TGerman software engineer Jürgen Krauss shocked fans of The Great British Cake when he was knocked out in the semifinals after winning three Star Baker accolades. Ofcom then received 115 complaints from angry viewers.
Were you surprised that so many people are complaining?
Not when I saw how emotionally invested people had become. I had to make three calls to families with crying children to comfort them. I’ve received a lot of direct messages on social media from people saying they just can’t stop crying.
Not making the final must have been disappointing?
Be certain Patisserie was a unique experience and I am happy with the result.
I was sad to have to leave, of course, but I was relieved that I didn’t have to bake the final pastries. It would have been intimidating to prepare in the few days we had. I have to say the other three have done incredibly well and I admire them for it.
I am in a happy place. I’m done not being in the final. It’s just an episode that I missed, just one. And I know a lot of exciting things are happening and people are watching what I’m going to do next – and it’s pretty amazing.
What do you like baking the most?
I think of each cooking as a bit of a chemistry or a physics experiment. You have to be precise with the ingredients, you have to be precise with the method. And then you end up with something beautiful.
I was very young when I started cooking with my mother at home. As soon as I could stand up, I was in the middle of it [all], baking cheesecakes and Christmas cookies with her. It was something we both enjoyed.
My favorite thing to bake is bread. You make this thing from ingredients and it comes to life. He has his own mind. Unlike a cake, you can’t pour it into a mold and expect it to hold that shape. With bread, you have to work with and against it. You can’t rush. He has his own ideas of what he wants to do.
How did you prepare for the competition?
I spent a lot of time walking around the countryside with my wife, discussing the personal connection to each pastry I was going to make. I started with the story I wanted to tell, not the cake. I don’t know if this approach worked in the semi-finals. I also consciously took risks with my flavors. But I like to take on a challenge. And then another challenge at the top.
Was the secrecy around the program hard?
Filming for the show takes place at the start of the year, but obviously you just can’t say a word to anyone for months on end. Secrecy was the hardest thing for me. It all got blurry, so much so that I couldn’t remember how many Star Bakers I had, whether I had a handshake or not… When I watched the series, it all came back. And it was like a roller coaster again. I felt physically exhausted after watching every episode for the past few weeks. I could feel the adrenaline. My heart was beating faster afterwards.
You all seemed to get along so well… How did you feel when you heard Chigs scream in the final?
It was very sweet. He calls me his pastry Yoda. It represents how we all felt about each other. We helped each other, we were there for each other. There was no competition behind the scenes. Watching the final was quite moving, I had tears in my eyes. It was very touching to see the families of the other candidates and their strong ties. Pass through Patisserie, you need a strong family behind you. You need support. Otherwise, you can enter a state and run into roadblocks.
You have won Star Baker three times during your stay in the tent and triumphed several times in technical challenges. You seemed so calm and grounded …
The measure for me is my own performance. If I’m happy with my pastries, it doesn’t matter if I’m Star Baker or not. My astrological sign is Taurus and I think I have a typical Taurus character. There’s a lot going on inside, and when it bursts, it bursts really badly. Or to put it another way: I scream very rarely but if I do, you better be far, far away.
In Patisserie, it helped to have Christmas [Fielding] and Matt [Lucas] about. They really add lightness to the tent. While they weren’t as present as you might think watching the show, they reminded me that it wasn’t that big of a deal. There is a world outside the tent.
Prue Leith I loved your latest pastries and said it was a shame she wasn’t the one to shake hands. (In the semi-final, Jürgen was the only baker not to get Paul Hollywood hand shake.) Who was your favorite judge?
I think Prue understood better what I was doing.
Who did you want to win?
I would have put my money on Crystalelle because she really blossomed with her flowers and her flavors. I believe if this focaccia had come out the way she wanted it to, she would have won it. But I am very happy for Giuseppe. The precision and classic appearance of his pastries are truly remarkable.
You are also an avid trombone player. Are you in a group?
Yes, I am part of a community big band, the Sussex Jazz Orchestra. My son Benjamin joins me. We play music from the 50’s and 60’s that you don’t hear often. I like being able to improvise jazz. It’s like speaking a different language.
I like Miles Davis but also early music composers like Johannes Ockeghem. In confinement, our family reunited with a neighbor and played 16th century Venetian music in our garden.