Review: The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition

For those looking for a televised treat for the holidays, The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition has finally returned to ABC. The show — an adaptation of the hit British program The Great British Bakeoff — features a set of contestants who face three culinary challenges in each episode.

During each episode, the show’s bakers are asked to cook three delicious dishes for two judges. Those judges provide feedback to the contestants and at the end of the three challenges, one baker is eliminated from the competition.

The first challenge is always the signature challenge (which the contestants can practice beforehand). The second challenge is a technical challenge, which forces the contestants to make a recipe with limited instructions. That task — which puts bakers on the spot to cook something they might not have even heard of before — is judged blindly with the judges not knowing who cooked which dish. The third task is the showstopper challenge, which asks the bakers to use their imagination to craft something extraordinary.

Each of the challenges has a specific time limit on it, causing drama and tension as time rolls on and bakers have to adapt their recipes accordingly.

The newest season features Paul Hollywood, an alum of the British Bakeoff, serving as a judge alongside Sherry Yard, a well-known pastry chef.

The show’s format itself is family-friendly but the behind-the-scenes drama hasn’t been. Last year, judge Johnny Iuzzini was accused of sexual harassment and ABC pulled the show from the schedule after only airing a few episodes.

With this in mind, this new season feels like a fresh start with Yard replacing Iuzzini and Emma Bunton (previously known as Baby Spice in the Spice Girls) joining NFL alum Anthony (better known as Spice) Adams as the show’s hosts.

The new season features a great group of contestants coming from all different professions. This year’s cast includes a mechanical engineer, a surgeon, a hairstylist and a doctoral research student. All of these unique individuals have a shared love: baking.

Despite their different backgrounds and personalities, one of the elements that is so inviting about this show is how the bakers support one another. For instance, in the season’s second episode, several bakers — who have finished their own dishes — come together to assist a fellow baker, who is struggling with the time limitation.

Competition programs usually feature people fighting to win a challenge. Here, the bakers oftentimes want each other to succeed.

Each week, the show highlights some delicious recipes offering viewers a glimpse of the tasty delight. In the first episode this season, dishes like “Double Chocolate Coffee Cake” and a “Boozy Christmas Morning Coffee Cake” are conjured up for the judges. While viewers salivate over these delicacies, the judges critique them.  

The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition follows the same format each week but it’s a wonderful treat that families can watch together without worrying about the content. Emma Bunton and Spice Adams add a layer of silliness to the show and the colorful light-hearted program feels like a celebration. Even after bakers are eliminated, there are usually kind words shared about them with few hard feelings ever revealed.

This is a show that brings people — bakers and viewers alike — together to share the season and celebrate great dishes. A wonderful holiday treat indeed. 

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