Baking

Paul Hollywood ruins S’Mores on ‘The Great British Baking Show’ ‘Halloween Week’

Good, The great British pastry fair did it again. He ruined yet another American classic. The strange technical challenge of Paul Hollywood for The great British pastry fair “Halloween Week” required bakers to make s’mores from scratch. He asked them to make the dessert by the fire with homemade marshmallows (ok), chocolate ganache (hmm…), digestive biscuits (absolutely not), and a small blowtorch (prison for everyone! ).

The great British pastry fairThe s’mores challenge is just the latest in a series of earth-shattering culinary disasters in the Bake Off tent. We’ve already been forced to put up with disgusting pizza during ‘bread week’ and the horrors of Brits making tacos and tres leche layered cakes for ‘Mexican week’. Naturally, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith couldn’t help but terrorize us during “Halloween Week”. The great British pastry fair needs Netflix executives to take a transatlantic line to explain to the Brits producing this show that lines have been crossed, trust has been broken and you’re making s’mores out of graham crackers, people!!!

For the very first time, The great British pastry fair asked bakers to participate in a “Halloween week”. While the creepy, creepy theme of the week immediately had me daydreaming about the days of the witch Helena Garcia, this year’s bakers all happily accepted the brief. Janusz Domagala dressed up as host Noel Fielding, Syabira Yusoff sported spiders crawling up her neck, and Abdul Rehman Sharif was a creepy astronaut or something.

Abdul's messy s'mores at the Great British Baking Show
Picture: Netflix

But the scariest part of The great British pastry fair was not Dawn Hollyoak’s messy black cat “lantern,” but Paul’s technical challenge. Once again, Paul gave the bakers a memoir that blew their minds. For “Halloween week” — a theme that could have inspired any number of pumpkin treats or candy bar recreations — he asked bakers to make s’mores from scratch. With digestive biscuits. And no campfire. My friends, I was literally screaming at my screen.

What is a digestive biscuit? It is a very dry and crispy “cookie” that is usually quite bland. It contains wheat flour and was originally thought to help, you know, digestion. They can be found in cheap packs in all UK supermarkets. Its flavorless quality makes it a terrible substitute for the sweet, honey, and cinnamon graham crackers found in the United States. (I mean, the textures are close, but the flavors are far.)

For some reason, Paul Hollywood has declared war on American cuisine this season of The great British pastry fair. He used “Bread Week” to ask bakers to ruin pizza, “Mexican Week” to blaspheme the sacred taco, and “Halloween Week” to completely destroy the beauty of s’more. In each of these challenges, Paul also asks the bakers to do, uh, very little baking. Particularly from the British cultural tradition. It’s not only disconcerting, but it’s also starting to get a little offensive.

The idea that s’mores – a treat that’s iconically sandwiched over a roaring fire with very little fuss – belongs to The great British pastry fair the tent is quite laughable. A s’more recipe that replaces the cardboard-tasting British digestive biscuit with the warmth of a graham cracker is utterly ridiculous. Homemade marshmallow and chocolate ganache? I can accept these riffs. But the digestive cookies undermined any authority Paul claimed to have over the s’mores in the tent.

Watching bakers struggle to brown the sides of their marshmallows with a small torch, I wondered how The great British pastry fair could have strayed so far from the light. Were Paul’s messy technical challenges a side effect of the long COVID? Did the Liverpudlian baker break down mentally? Was he mischievously plotting these challenges in a bewildering game of cat and mouse with me, the devoted American critic who meticulously broke down each Britain’s Greatest Baking Fair episode on Netflix for years? Was it personal???

Whatever evil spirits possessed Paul Hollywood and company to devastate the s’mores The great British pastry fair “Halloween week”, they must be sent back into the shadows. Just as many bakers collapse in the tent trying to do too much, The great British pastry fair itself keeps complicating things too much. This show needs to take note of Maxy Maligisa and embrace the classics before it’s too late.