French Baking and English Bakers

My wife has been marathoning the Great British Baking Show on Netflix.

It’s a cooking challenge show in which home bakers try to impress professional British pastry chefs.  The contestants have to bake one of their at-home recipes, then bake some technical challenge given to them by the judges.

I find it to be borderline intolerable.

Half of what they are asked to bake is some sort of signature French pastry.

This is what I have learned about French baking, it is 99% Fuck You.

I think the center philosophy of French baking is pastry chefs trying to do something so unbelievably complicated that no-one else can do it.  It’s French one-upsmanship.

To make this Frenchy French Poof Loaf you have to massage the butter into the flour by hand while cold for two hours.  Then roll it to the thickness of a human air.  Cover it with fruit and nut compost and then fold it 900 times until it is an accurate facsimile of the Arc de Triomphe.  Then you bake it until turns the color of pure gold and can be poked with a bony English finger and not lose its shape.  But you have 90 minutes to do it.

Being British, there is no such thing as a “good.”  Every response by every judge is an inverted complement sandwich.

  1. Complaint about trivial aspect of the item – e.g., “the color is slightly off”.
  2. Mild complement – e.g., “the glaze is nice” (nice being the highest level of praise they can give).
  3. Soul crushing criticism – e.g., “other than the glaze, these are a dry and tasteless”.

I think the British conquered the world only because it was an attempt by a bunch of British young men to do something so epic that their disapproving British parents would say something positive without any qualifiers.

“Mom, I brought civilization to the dark continent, taught the savages Christian values, and opened diamond mines that have produced stones used in the Crown Jewels.”

“That’s nice… couldn’t you have founded gold and silver mines too.”

The icon of the show is food writer named Mary Berry.

This is her beaming with joy.

This is the most British woman I’ve ever seen.  Her demeanor is a cold as the butter that has to be worked into her scones.

According to the internet she is married, but she still looks like a spinster to me.  I just can’t image anybody wanting to consummate with that.  Even 44 years ago, she looked like that.

So as I recover from a hacking chest cold, I am treated to hours on end of an old, sexless British woman crushing the hopes and dreams of homemakers to death, grinding down their egos like almonds for marzipan.

5 Replies to “French Baking and English Bakers”

  1. Presenting with no comment, other than a preemptive apology for what laughing may do to aggravate your chest cold:

    (Studio C is a sketch comedy group out of BYU. They’re productions are hilarious, but TOTALLY CLEAN. Great for families. 🙂 )

  2. The Mean Brit Judge is kind of a stock character for competition shows these days, after the success of Simon Cowell. Who has become almost the “nice” judge on America’s Got Talent.

  3. Brits asked their opinion regarding food? Is that The Onion?

    I admit that pastry (and not just French pastry, any fine pastry) takes some involvement but if mastered and done with high quality base products, there are some magnificent things to flatter you palate.

    All these techniques may seem odd and unnecessary but (sadly for the amateur chef), they do indeed yield great results.

    And pastry is not just baking. Top pastry chefs are just that: pastry chefs, not bakers who happen to do pastry on the side.

    As always, you can get a decent product that tastes 70% as good for 10% of the work, but those last 30% take a whole lot of work.

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