Paul Hollywood is the villain of Japanese Week on The Great British Baking Show

Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas wearing costumes for Japanese Week
Manga Mango Soldier Spy
Screenshot: YouTube

It’s Japanese Week on The Great British Baking Show, and who better to explain Japanese pastries to the global masses than Paul Hollywood, who hates matcha, and Prue Leith, who always has the best takes on “ethnic” food. Thankfully this episode wasn’t the racist shitshow I feared it would be, but then again I’ve been on a social media fast and haven’t seen Twitter’s opinions on that particular matter. As this is a nice, normal week where no one in the world is on edge for any sort of reason, I look forward to being politely corrected in the comments section!

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Signature Bake: Steamed Japanese Buns

Traditionally, Japanese buns look like a proper bun should. In the modern era, these buns are often made to look like adorable little things, which I’ll admit terrifies me. I do not want to develop any sort of emotional attachment to anything I am eating. I do not want my food to look at me with sad little eyes, imploring me to kiss it gently on its supple doughy forehead and promise with all my heart that I will never, ever, let it go.

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Contestants' steam buns that look like sheep, pigs, chickens, and pandas
Don’t look into their eyes! That’s how they get you!
Screenshot: YouTube

I got to watch all these adorable little bastards get eaten on television. I just don’t understand how Paul and Prue could casually snack on a panda’s face as its beady little critically endangered panda eyes stared up at them, complete with an adorable pink bow. When buns are too cute, they do nothing but remind me of the monster I am, and I eat snacks to help me forget that. I wasn’t too upset when Peter’s lambs got it, though, as those little guys most definitely looked like they were up to something, and their Chinese-stir-fry-inspired innards looked goddamn delicious.

On the side of the tent that didn’t resemble the Old MacDonald Chainsaw Massacre, Marc-with-a-C went with a traditional shape but a nontraditional filling, serving Indian- and Hanson-inspired “Hmmmm Dahl” buns that the judges deem phenomenal. Meanwhile, Lottie and Mark-with-a-K both had the genius idea of making cheeseburger-stuffed buns, but their decision to each make gherkins a key part of their recipe was less genius, because Paul apparently hates gherkins and makes sure everybody hears all about it. In response, Mark and Lottie both make one special gherkin-free portion especially for Paul, and then Señor Fussypants has the balls to complain that his burger is dry. That’s right, Paul Hollywood—a man who has spent the majority of his career in the hospitality industry—is now That Guy. This is exactly the sort of thing we were all worried about when Mary Berry left the show four years ago. Ah, good old 2016. Simpler times.


Technical Challenge: Matcha Crepe Cake

Paul Hollywood also doesn’t like matcha and I give up.


Showstopper Bake: Cutesy-Wootsy Cakes Meant For Eating, Not For Loving

Even scarier to me than eating an adorable animal in steamed bun form is eating it in cake form, because before you mash its flesh to bits with your powerful jaws, you’ve got to stab it in the face with a giant knife. Do none of us remember the trauma of seeing David Bowie’s beautiful face mutilated by Paul Hollywood’s massive hands? Here’s a photo, in case you forgot.

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David Bowie cake getting sliced up in episode 1
If I have to see this every time I close my eyes, you do, too.
Screenshot: YouTube

Both Dave and Marc-with-a-C make edible versions of their supposedly “beloved” dogs, which is something for all you armchair psychologists to unpack as I want nothing to do with it. Most of the remaining bakers don’t do anything that will cause any night terrors I can’t handle: Laura’s friendly pineapple is delightful and delicious, Lottie’s magical mushroom is superb, badminton-mad Peter’s dizzy shuttlecock employed sparklers (which are always a good time), and even though Hermine’s cherry blossom cake unfortunately became possessed by a ghost, her flavors were great.

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Clockwise from top left: Pineapple cake, mushroom cake, cherry blossom cake, shuttlecock cake
Jolly good show, everyone!
Screenshot: YouTube

Lottie is this week’s Star Baker. Mark-with-a-K, god love him, didn’t have the sort of week he was hoping for: his crepe cake was messy, he got screwed by his own gherkin, and the pregnant avocado cake he made was a little dry. Yes, that’s right, I said “pregnant avocado cake,” and no, I will not go look at it again so that I may take a screenshot. It was a daddy avocado and a mommy avocado, and inside the mommy’s avocado-pit belly there was a tiny little avocado baby AND PRUE ATE THE BABY. Mark goes home, which is good because he needs to think about what he did. Two weeks ago he ruined meringue, this week he ruins avocados... I shudder to think what iconic British bakes he might have destroyed, and what dishonor would he have done the Queen, had his reign of terror continued. Woodcock? Wet Nellys? Spotted Dicks? Where would it end?!?

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Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, author of three books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Questions about recipes/need cooking advice? Tweet @Robicellis.

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Paul Hollywood is the villain of Japanese Week on The Great British Baking Show