The clock was running out. The pressure was on Marshawn Lynch.
Your task: decorate a baked meringue wreath with blueberry coulis, mascarpone cream and sugared berries.
The former running back for the Seattle Seahawks is one of six contestants on a new celebrity special on “The Great American Baking Show,” a spin-off of the beloved British competition show. Introduced by host Ellie Kemper as “hoping to turn Beast Mode into Yeast Mode,” Lynch competed with D’Arcy Carden, Liza Koshy, Nat Faxon, Chloe Fineman, and Joel Kim Booster.
Hosted by Kemper and Zach Cherry, the contestants faced three Christmas baking challenges for judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.
Lynch is known more for his love of Skittles than his own baking, and his inexperience quickly became apparent at the famous bakery shop. The first challenge required the contestants to bake eight identical cream puffs in the shape of Christmas characters: Lynch chose Christmas elves, filled with strawberry cream and topped with fondant hats.
“If they could go ahead and give me a couple of little tips, I wouldn’t hate on them or give them away or anything like that,” he told the judges, decked out in a Beast Mode hoodie and beanie.
What do you need help with? Hollywood asked. “All this,” she said.
The plate of elf cream puffs was in disarray when the judges came to taste them, but Lynch explained that there had been a fight between the elves from the North Pole and the South Pole. The judges accepted the explanation, telling Lynch that her fluffy golden choux pastry buns were “really delicious.”
The second challenge, the meringue crown, went south quickly. Lynch struggled to separate the eggs and beat them with sugar (“What are soft peaks? I don’t know what this is”). Later, he added a whole jar of vanilla bean paste to his meringue (the recipe called for a teaspoon). The result: a meringue (which Lynch pronounced “mer-ain-gay”) that Hollywood said “burned her mouth.”
“What is milkshake?” Lynch sheepishly asked the judges after they said his meringue was under-whipped, but his cream was over-whipped. “You are all using a different language.”
But the third challenge brought her redemption: a lemon drizzle cake in honor of her grandfather, PaPaw Lynch. Decorated with fondant dice, the cake represented his Christmas memory of playing dice games with the family.
“My grandfather has been making this cake his whole life,” Lynch told the judges. “After games when I started playing organized football, Little League, I used to bring these pies like ‘hey you did a good job.’ ”
The simple sandwich pie wowed the judges, who called it “perfectly done.” Leith compared her plain icing to a sugar and water icing; Lynch smiled and said, “You used a lot of words I don’t know, but they sound good, baby.”
“The thing that caught me off guard with this one in particular was how good the celebrities really were,” Hollywood told Tasting Table in an interview. “You can say that because they had practiced, okay, Marshawn Lynch didn’t, and celebrities who practiced are always going to do their best.”
One takeaway from the show: an unexpected connection to Hollywood’s notoriously critical judge.
“I was looking at some of their junks, actually, when I was in the tent, and then I had a chat with some of them,” Hollywood told Tasting Table. “It was lovely catching up with him, talking to him one on one, quietly over a cup of tea. It was fantastic.”
“I won for sure,” Lynch said at the end of the episode. “I sure did enjoy it, really, really.”