The German software engineer Jürgen Krauss shocked fans of The Great British Bake Off when he was eliminated during the semi-finals despite having won three Star Baker accolades. Ofcom later received 115 complaints from angry viewers.
Were you surprised that so many people complained?
Not when I saw how emotionally invested people had become. I had to make three calls to families with crying kids to comfort them. I have had many direct messages on social media from people who said they just couldn’t stop crying.
Not making the final must have been disappointing?
Being on Bake Off was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m happy with the outcome.
I felt sad I had to leave, natuurlik, but I was relieved that I didn’t have to do the final bakes. It would have been daunting preparing in the few days we had. I have to say the other three did incredibly well and I admire them for it.
I am in a happy place. I’ve got over not being in the final. It’s just one episode I missed, just one. And I know a lot of exciting things are coming my way and people are watching what I’m going to do next – and that’s pretty amazing.
Wat do you enjoy most about baking?
I view every bake a little bit like 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 little when I started baking, with my mother, at home. As soon as I could stand, I was in the middle of it [all], baking cheesecakes and Christmas biscuits with her. It was something we both enjoyed.
My favourite thing to bake is bread. You make this thing out of ingredients and it comes alive. It has its own mind. Unlike a cake, you can’t pour it into a tin and expect it to keep that shape. With bread, you need to work with it and against it. You can’t rush it. It has its own ideas about what it wants to do.
How did you prepare for the competition?
I spent a lot of time walking in the countryside with my wife, discussing the personal connection to each bake I was going to make. I started with the story I wanted to tell, not the cake. I don’t know if that approach worked in the semi-finals. I also consciously took risks with my flavours. But I like to have a challenge. And then another challenge on top.
Was the secrecy around the programme tough?
Filming for the series happens early in the year but, natuurlik, you just can’t say a word to anyone for months. The secrecy was the hardest thing of all for me. It all went into a blur, to the extent that I couldn’t remember how many Star Bakers I got, whether I got a handshake or not… When I watched the series, it all came back. And it was like a rollercoaster all over again. I felt physically exhausted after watching each episode in the later weeks. I could feel the adrenaline. My heart was beating faster, afterwards.
You all seemed to get on so well… How did you feel getting a shout out from Chigs in the final?
That was very sweet. He calls me his baking Yoda. It represents what all 12 of us felt for each other. We helped each other, we were there for each other. There was no competition behind the scenes. Watching the final was quite emotional, I had tears in my eyes. It was very touching, seeing the families of the other contestants and their strong bonds. To get through Bake Off, you need a strong family behind you. You need the support. Otherwise you can get into a state and hit roadblocks.
You won Star Baker three times during your time in the tent and repeatedly triumphed during the technical challenges. You seemed so calm and grounded…
The measure for me is my own performance. If I am happy with my bakes, then it doesn’t matter if I’m Star Baker or not. My star sign is Taurus and I think I have a typical Taurean character. A lot goes on inside, and when it erupts, it erupts really badly. Or to put it another way: I very rarely scream but if I do, you better be far, far away.
In Bake Off, it helped having Noel [Fielding] and Matt [Lucas] rond. They really add a lightness to the tent. Although they are not as much there as you would think from watching the show, they reminded me that it’s not that serious. There is a world outside the tent.
Prue Leith loved your final bakes and said it was a pity she wasn’t the one who gives out handshakes. (In the semi-final, Jürgen was the only baker not to get a Paul Hollywood handshake.) Who was your favourite judge?
I think Prue understood more what I was doing.
Who did you want to win?
I would have put my money on Crystelle because she really flourished with her flowers and her flavours. I believe if that focaccia came out as she wished, she would have won it. But I’m very happy for Giuseppe. The precision and the classic look of his bakes are really outstanding.
You’re also a keen trombone player. Are you in a band?
Yes I’m in a community big band, the Sussex Jazz Orchestra. My son Benjamin joins me. We play music from the 1950s and 1960s that you don’t often hear. I enjoy being able to improvise jazz. It’s like speaking a different language.
I love Miles Davis but also early music composers like Johannes Ockeghem as well. In lockdown, our family got together with a neighbour and played 16th-century Venetian music in our garden.