The Great British Baking Show is everyone’s go-to when you just need to hear a soothing British voice talking about biscuits and sponges. It’s the show that may have single-handedly gotten me through senior year of high school and freshman year of college. I even met the show’s former host Mel when I went to London in December and camped out in front of the West End show she was in at the time because I loved her so much (she also roasted me!).
Part of what’s so great about The Great British Baking Show — which is called The Great British Bake Off in Britain (Netflix changed the title for Americans) and affectionately referred to as GBBO by fans — is that it’s predictable. Every episode has three challenges: a signature, technical, and showstopper, and they all follow some kind of theme (sometimes based on a food group, like bread, and sometimes cultural). Unfortunately for me, the show has never had any Jewish challenges.
Which maybe shouldn’t be a surprise. I mean, judge Paul Hollywood thinks challah is served on Passover! (Yes, really!) It’s no surprise that GBBO is not very Jewish; after all, Jews make up just 0.5 percent of the population in the United Kingdom. There was one Jewish contestant, Stacey Hart, a few years ago, but she’s been the only one as far as I could tell.
The cultural-themed weeks from previous seasons — Italian week, French week, Danish week, etc. — are great, but I have a suggestion for GBBO’s best themed week yet: Jewish week.
Behold, my imagining of a Great British Baking Show Jewish week:
We open on Noel and Sandi standing in the field in front of the tent. Noel is wearing a light-up menorah Hanukkah sweater.
“Welcome to the Great Yiddish — I mean British! — Baking Show!” Noel says.
“Noel, why are you wearing a Hanukkah sweater? It’s July!” Sandi replies.
“Because it’s Jewish week!” Noel exclaims.
The theme song then plays, but it’s a klezmer-style remix. The bakers file into the tent to begin the days’ challenges. None of them are Jewish, and they all look slightly scared.
Noel and Sandi welcome the bakers back to the tent and introduce the signature challenge: two different types of knishes, 12 each.
“On your marks, schlep, BAKE!” Noel and Sandi say in unison.
Some bakers choose to stick with traditional meat and potato knishes, but others choose to be more creative. One baker goes for a sweet potato and broccoli knish. Another attempts a sun-dried tomato and goat cheese variety. One baker makes a sweet knish with ricotta and blueberries, which Prue absolutely hates. The baker silently cries after Paul and Prue leave his station.
Alternative signature challenge: hamantaschen. Since it’s The Great British Baking Show, there are least three hamantaschen with rhubarb in them and two with elderflower. Some of the bakers choose to make their hamantaschen in a variety of shapes instead of just triangles and Paul scolds them for the lack of authenticity.
After a grueling signature bake, it’s time for the technical. The bakers are more terrified than they’ve ever been before.
Noel announces Paul’s technical challenge: chocolate babka. Most of the bakers have no idea what babka is, but one of them smugly tells the on-camera interview that they have a Jewish friend and have eaten it before.
Back in the secret gazebo, Paul unveils an absolutely perfect babka that the audience is supposed to believe he made. Later, after the episode airs, a controversy emerges: the GBBO producers secretly flew in the babka from New York City, knowing that no one in England could make a decent one.
The bakers are mostly fine until they get to the rolling-and-twisting stage.
“Don’t get your babka in a twist!” Sandi jokes.
One baker accidentally puts her elbow down on one of her rolls and the chocolate filling squirts out and goes everywhere.
“I thought patisserie week was hard, but nothing prepared me for this!” she exclaims.
Alternative technical challenge: Jewish apple cake. Inevitably, a few bakers overmix their batter and wind up with sunken fruit and a soggy bottom. Shame!
Finally, it is time for the showstopper challenge, which Noel and Sandi introduce as a Shavuot dairy feast. The bakers must make a cheesecake, 12 cheese blintzes, and noodle kugel with ice cream on the side.
The bakers are all extremely confused. “What do any of these things have to do with each other?” they ask. None of them can pronounce “kugel.”
They disregard the confusion and start to bake.
One of the bakers completely misses the point and decides to make their feast Christmas-themed, with a cranberry-spice cheesecake. (Is it even The Great British Baking Show if there isn’t at least one confusingly Christmas-themed bake?)
Only one showstopper is deserving of a handshake from Paul. It includes a Black Forest cheesecake, cherry blintzes, dried cherry and white chocolate kugel, and dark chocolate ice cream.
Alternative showstopper challenges: a Passover-friendly cake that actually tastes good. Some bakers choose to make a matzah-based cake and others go for a flourless variety. Paul and Prue are visibly disgusted by the texture of the matzah cakes, because TBH, who likes a matzah cake?
Sandi announces Star Baker, and her and Noel burst into a high-spirited rendition of Siman Tov U’Mazel Tov. When Noel reveals the baker who has to go home, Sandi quietly begins the Mourner’s Kaddish.
That’s it, folks. Jewish week is over. Back to your regularly scheduled Christmas fruit cakes.
Header Image via Channel 4 on Facebook.