When I think of baking shows, my brain whips up a delightful concoction of Gordon Ramsay memes, and grandmas making fancy cupcakes. Turns out, there’s more to it. Here’s a lineup of holiday baking shows, from the most amateur, to professional.
Netflix features The Great British Baking Show: Holiday Edition. Season 6 just started!
In season 5, it seems Christmas leftovers are to the British, as Thanksgiving leftovers are to Americans. They delight in eating them post-holiday, and I enjoyed seeing their leftover pies. They took inspiration from Thailand to India, which provided fresh twists.
The bakers also made “tear-and-share” Christmas trees, which I’d never heard of.
The personalities: older, bombastic but supportive, professional judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, combined with quite amateur young contestants. They call them “kids.” I love it.
The best part was this exchange between contestants, once done baking: “What are you going to do now?” “I’m going to have a cup of tea.”
Prize: as per usual for The Great British Baking Show, bragging rights, a bouquet, and a special cake stand.
Roku Channel has two seasons of The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition, along with the Celebrity Holiday specials
The goal: Be America’s Best Amateur Baker. The host: A Spice Girl. The judges: pastry chef Sherry Yard, and baker/cookbook author Paul Hollywood. The contestants? Nervous Yanks.
There are also two annual Celebrity Holiday specials, featuring such notables as former NFL player Marshawn Lynch, actor Joel McHale and vegan NBA player DeAndre Jordan.
First challenge for the 2023 edition: sandwich cookies. The icing and decorating was better than I could have done in a pinch.
They also made sufganiyot, a type of donut. I have never seen a deep fryer before, but I highly recommend witnessing its use for the first time, with the bonus of watching celebrities bumble through it. Nice spike of adrenaline to go with your donut.
I liked hearing the bakers talk about their ethnic backgrounds, and the food they were making from those traditions.
My takeaway? Fun, but less cute without British accents.
Food Network has a Holiday Baking Championship.
Episodes range from “Holiday Cookie Madness” to “The Great Holiday Cake-Over.”
This show is more intense. There are tears. And more scary baking fails. They care about getting the prize money, so there’s more pressure.
As an American, I liked knowing where the contestants came from. Their culinary influence varied based on background, and I understand American states’ cultures better than different areas in the U.K.
In the pie episode, a Navy veteran made an apple empanada, and I’d like to steal his recipe. These contestants came up with incredible combinations of creams, caramels, pastries, and the occasional shot of bourbon. I wouldn’t mind judging.
This one is fun for experienced bakers, because you can understand their techniques, with inspiration for your own holiday challenge.
Lastly, the Roku channel has most of the aforementioned shows, as well as One World Kitchen Bakes the Holidays, which features Italian, Argentinian, Thai, and Japanese holiday recipes.
These four women chefs are ridiculously cute in delivery and enthusiasm. Additionally, their recipes are high-achieving and look incredible. I love matcha, so I’d love to try making the matcha cheesecake. I’d also like to try cooking in a fancy Christmas dress, when I feel daring.
Overall, this show is enthusiastic and polished. Best for connoisseurs of multicultural Christmas treats.
Here's a taste:
Merry Christmas, happy all the other holidays, and, as the great TV chef Julia Child liked to say, Bon Appétit!
Image: (L-R) The Great British Baking Show: Holidays judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith, and host Noel Fielding.
Sophia Sariego is a Los Angeles native working in the pro-life movement. She loves Eucharistic Adoration, making music, and hitting the beaches in her spare time.