This past weekend I was staying with one of my sisters and got to watch my ten year old niece show off her baking skills. It was great to see someone I held when she was a week old now taking pride in baking brownies and cookies. As some of you might remember, I’m a bit of a baking aficionado myself. On Monday night, “The Great Holiday Baking Show” premiered on ABC for a four week run. It is based on the BBC’s hit show “The Great British Bake Off”. Thankfully, the famous British baker, Mary Berry made the jump across the pond to continue to serve as one of the judges on the show. She is the author of 80 cookbooks; we get it Mary, you know how to cook and bake!
I thought we’d try something new here at TJP, recap a show after each episode — luckily this is only four episodes long and combines two of my favorite things: TV and Baking.
Six Amatuer Baker Contestants, Three Cooking Concotions, Two Professional Judges, and A Pair of Married Co-Hosts. After watching these six in the first episode, I realized I have a long way to go before I can be considered an amateur baker! I really need to work on my piping skills, thanks Youtube! The two judges — the above mentioned Mary Berry along with Johnny Iuzzini — don’t berate the contestants, a nice change of pace over some judges on cooking shows, cough Gordon Ramsey cough. Co-hosts Nia “My big fat greek wedding” Vardalos and her husband Ian Gomez, a nice duo but the forced comedy had me wincing at time. It’s like I always say, let the bakers bake!.
There are three different parts of the competition each week: First they bake a recipe they are most comfortable with, a standard. In the second part, they all have to bake the same thing, and it is a surprise. To really mess with the bakers they keep the recipe basic so they have to figure out things like “baking times” on their own. I’d be undercooking everything. The third part is the creative section where they get to design something.
This week the competition revolved around cookies, or biscuits as Mary calls them, classic Mary. Since I’ve already written two articles about cookies, I’ll spare you my in depth explanation on why I love them. I’ll just point out a couple of observations.
- “There is nothing wrong with going simple, if it is perfect”- Mary Berry’s advice to a baker who said her cookies would be basic. I’m still trying to find a simple recipe that I can make really well. Often I try making crazy cookies and avoid the “simple ones.” I think I can make more excuses if I mess up with a complex cookie and people will give me credit for trying, but a simple recipe can provide just as much taste and flavor when it is done really well.
- I’ve never made gingersnaps or gingerbread before, but Eddie’s Hot Chocolate Gingersnaps really intrigued me. So many spices: nutmeg, glove, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and just for an extra kick Fireball whiskey! When I make these cookies I’ll be singing Pitbull’s “Fireball”. And don’t worry, I’ll have 911 on speed dial!
The Great Holiday Baking Show is a fun baking competition. I am really impressed with all of the bakers, even the one that was eliminated at the end of the episode. We’ll miss you Grace from Brooklyn and your prophetic words:“It’s just cookies.”
Cover Image Gingerbread Cookies by Flickr User Deborah Lee Soltesz, via Flickr Creative Commons, available here.