I’m Simply Obsessed with Jürgen

The Jewish adjacent German challah-baking Winnie the Pooh is clearly the star of "The Great British Baking Show."

Like many, “The Great British Baking Show” is my comfort watch. I look forward to Fridays in the fall, ready to sign off from work, take a deep breath and lose myself in the sweet nonsense of British people baking. There’s been much written on the joys of “The Great British Baking Show” (or “The Great British Bake Off,” depending on where you live in the world), so I won’t dwell here. Where I will dwell is series 12 contestant Jürgen Krauss, a physicist from Brighton, East Sussex. (Series 12 is season 9 in America, I don’t know why and I don’t care to google.)

When I began the show, Jürgen’s German accent threw me off right away. I was used to incomprehensible British accents, not someone who sounded like a villain in a “James Bond” movie (sorry to Jürgen and all German people).

Yet that quickly changed. As Rachel Myerson wrote in The Nosher, “Usually, it takes me a couple of weeks to commit to my favorite contestant. I don’t want to be hasty. I’m hesitant to get too attached. But this year I couldn’t help myself, one contestant pulled at my heartstrings from the very first episode. It is, of course, Jürgen. Lovely Jürgen with his gentle manner, precise bakes, and seemingly absent family. (Name me a more heartbreaking moment than when no-one answered his phone call after being awarded star baker in episode one.)”

By episode two, Jürgen’s weird charms had officially won me over, and I tweeted:

Lo and behold, in a reply to my tweet, Alma contributor A.R. Vishny let me know: “Also, not for nothing, he is also apparently the most Jewish-adjacent contestant this year,” linking to a Jewish Chronicle story about how a Brighton synagogue was rooting for its member, Jürgen.

And that’s how I learned that, OMG, Jürgen — who is from the Black Forest region of Germany — moved to the U.K. in 2003 and is married to a British Jew. Their family belongs to a Reform synagogue in Brighton, where he has taught a challah-baking class to children (!). His son, Ben, became a bar mitzvah in 2019, and in an unspecified year, Ben blew the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. When Ben blew the shofar, Jürgen accompanied his son to the bimah. Just because a parent isn’t Jewish doesn’t mean they can’t raise Jewish children — in fact, as Caroline Levine recently wrote in Alma, her family “is a beautiful blend of Jewish parents and, as I like to call them, non-Jewish Jewish parents.” And Jürgen seems to be the epitome of that.

He got into baking initially because he couldn’t find traditional German bread in Brighton and set out to make his own. Per his official bio, “He is particularly well-known for his Jewish challah bread, and for the celebration cakes that he loves to bake for friends and family.” I mean!!! We simply have to stan.

As if I wasn’t already his number one fan, in episode four, Jürgen made a charoset-and-matzah-topped pavlova, showing innovation and creating a kosher for Passover dessert that seemed actually delicious. In episode five, he taught all the other bakers how to pronouns the German dishes they were baking. He even sang the notes he painted on his cake:

When he referred to himself as the “Jürgenator” in episode six… how could you not root for this man!?

His energy is just so wholesome, so kind and exactly what the “Great British Baking Show” is all about.

Watch this behind-the-scenes clip of two bakers, off screen, arguing over whether or not an insect is a bee or a wasp. Jürgen and Crystelle are at their stations, quietly observing, when one says, “Jürgen? Jürgen will know.” He walks over, and quietly says, “That is a fly.” You just have to watch:

He’s funny without intentionally being funny, his deadpan humor and German accent hitting the exact right notes. He’s like a British German Winnie the Pooh (a comparison many others have made).

He also seems to be besties with the other European contestant, Giuseppe, leading many to ask for a spin-off featuring the two of them, which apparently Jewish “Bake Off” co-host Matt Lucas suggested:

All this is to say: We have four episodes left of this season of “The Great British Baking Show” and I will be cheering on Jürgen, the non-Jewish Jewish German challah-baking Winnie the Pooh, the entire way.

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