(JTA) — Jürgen Krauss, the “basically a Jewish dad” on the latest season of “The Great British Baking Show,” lived up to his reputation during Desserts Week when he produced a Passover-inspired pavlova with a traditional charoset topping. Krauss, who is from the Black Forest region of Germany, is married to a British Jew. Their family belongs to a Reform synagogue in Brighton, where the Jewish Chronicle reported he has taught a challah-baking class to children. In the first episode of this season, a Passover Seder plate is visible behind him in a scene introducing viewers to his home and family.
That proved a prescient symbol this week, when judges charged the contestants with producing a flavorful pavlova, a delicate dessert made with just whipped egg whites and sugar. Pavlovas are naturally kosher for Passover because they lack flour, and Krauss leaned into that as he designed an inspired-by-Passover version with a charoset topping and pyramids of chocolate-covered matzah. Krauss makes his charoset in the Sephardic style, using dates, oranges and cardamom while eschewing the apples and nuts that are common in Ashkenazi versions.
The fan-favorite series has drawn criticism before for its handling of Jewish foods. In Season Five, the instruction to make a “plaited loaf” left some viewers wondering if anyone on the show knew about challah. Then last year, rainbow-bagel and babka challenges did not delve into the Jewish significance of the bakes.
After judge Prue Leith wonders whether the topping will be too sweet against the pavlova, Krauss explains charoset’s symbolism. “It’s the mortar used by the Jews to stick the pyramids and Pharoah’s cities together,” he says.
After Krauss’ creation earns a favorable review — judge Paul Hollywood announces, “Jürgen’s back!” — host Matt Lucas, who is Jewish, offers one more reaction.
“Mazel tov,” Lucas tells him before moving on to the next baker — one who channeled the colors and flavors of Easter.
Main Photo: Jurgen Krauss, who bakes challah for his family’s synagogue, shows off his Passover-inspired pavlova in “The Great British Baking Show” tent. (Screenshot from Netflix)