Sure, too many baked goods could make you look like Jabba the Hutt, but has it never occurred to you to consider what Jabba the Hutt would make with baked goods?
Thanks to French Laundry-trained baker Hanalee Pervan, we have an answer. Meet “Pan Solo”—a life-sized tribute to Han Solo, frozen in carbonite, made entirely out of bread.
Before she put the “carb” in carbonite, Pervan, co-owner and head baker of Benicia’s One House Bakery (onehousebakery.com), had another Star Wars-themed hit with her 2020 masterpiece: “The Paindoughlorian”—a life-size sculpture of the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda, also made entirely from bread.
Pervan’s award-winning bakery (which has supplied bread to Michelin-rated Bouchon Bistro, among other laudable clients) made “Pan Solo” as part of Benicia’s Annual Scarecrow Contest, a Halloween mainstay for the city’s First Street merchants. That said—kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other. I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe that baked carbonite is edible. What’s in it?
“Dead dough, which is a bread dough made without yeast and a higher concentration of sugar. That helps make it harder when it’s baked. We also used some plywood and some glue,” said Pervan via an email Q&A.
DH: After Kylo killed Han in The Force Awakens, is this your way of making him “rise again?”
HP: That’s also a great take on it! We were also thinking about how Han was suspended for over a year and how it echoed our pandemic experience. Everything stopped; businesses closed; we didn’t go anywhere or do anything except work and go home. When he is rescued from the carbonite, it’s a new start, an awakening and a continuation of life. Our bakery is reopening to the public this month since we closed our doors over two years ago, and is a brand new start for us.
DH: Clearly, you are a talented baker and have a thing for Star Wars, (sky)walk me through your experience as a fan and when/how/why it occurred to you to mix your passions as a professional and a fan?
HP: There are so many iconic characters in the ‘Star Wars’ franchise, it’s hard to choose just one. The main constraint is whether the figure will fit into our bread oven. We did the Pandelorian and baby Yoda with a Pan droid two years ago and we knew we wanted to revisit the universe, and Han Solo just kept coming up. It’s quite a scary image, with his face contorted into an expression of pain and fear; his hands are clenching and reaching for escape. We thought it would be a nice scary image for Halloween.
Prior to Pervan’s creations, a mashup of baking and Star Wars hasn’t been this successful since the early Hardware Wars film parody replaced Princess Leia’s iconic side buns with cinnamon rolls. Pervan’s creation breaks new, um, bread and begs the question, what kind of bread does Pan Solo fly? Millennium Focaccia. How is it? “Chewy.” …I’m a Gen X dad, I can do this ’til the gluten-free droids come home.