I’ve found the comedy series Ted Lasso (Apple TV+) to be a much-needed ray of light in an otherwise bleak season of life. The exceptional ensemble cast performs each carefully crafted episode with nuanced warmth and wit. While some have criticized the show for being too happy, overly saccharine, or devoid of conflict, there are plenty of reminders that these characters are flawed, that they experience darkness as well as light, and that they are capable of hurting one another deeply.
The genius of the show is revealed in how these characters find ways to forgive one another, to forgive themselves, and to move forward, onward, together, as a team of believers who make one another better human beings precisely through their flaws, not in spite of them. Within that grand story arc, we shouldn’t overlook one important factor that shapes how these characters relate to one another: biscuits.
The show’s protagonist, Ted Lasso, is a cockeyed optimist of the highest degree whose flaws and foibles are gradually exposed more and more. In the first season, he won over his British colleagues with folksy humor, steadfast integrity, simple kindness, and yes, daily Biscuits with the Boss. In the second season, however, Ted’s charm and affability fail to break the ice with Dr. Sharon Fieldstone. When his proffered shortbread biscuits are met with a curt-yet-not-unkind rejection, it becomes clear that Ted’s trademark tricks for endearing himself to others may have met their match. And indeed, throughout the season, Ted and Doc(tor) Sharon seem to be like oil and water, ever at odds with one another, until they finally bond — not through baking, but through shared vulnerability.
As someone who bakes frequently, and who cherishes the opportunity to brighten other people’s days with hand-crafted breads or sweet treats, I found myself bristling when Dr. Sharon passed that pink box of biscuits back to Ted after only one bite. For me and Ted, baking isn’t just a way of winning people over (though it often helps) — rather, baking for others is a kind of love language.
You pour yourself into the process of choosing which recipe to try, selecting and purchasing the perfect ingredients, then carefully weighing up sugar, cracking eggs, sifting flour, shaping dough, and finally hoping it all turns out right when you slide the pan or tray into the precisely preheated oven. When it comes down to it, the baking process is an act of self-gift. It seeks to answer a need that lies far deeper than simple sustenance.
Let’s be honest: no one needs shortbread biscuits or birthday cakes to survive from a nutritional standpoint, but people very much need to know that someone cared enough about them to create something delicious simply for the sake of making them happy.
On the other hand, baking can’t be all about the baker; it has to take into account the needs and preferences of the recipient. Many of my friends can’t process gluten, so in order to accommodate their dietary restrictions, I took it upon myself to incorporate gluten-free recipes whenever possible. This is where baking becomes real self-gift, because a true baker realizes it’s not just about her or him. It’s about cultivating relationships with others through the food and through the love that food signifies. To bake something not everyone will be able to enjoy diminishes my enjoyment of the entire baking process.
When Dr. Sharon revealed that she doesn’t eat sugar, I half-expected to see that episode conclude with Ted in his kitchen, poring over recipe books, searching for a sugar-free recipe that would convey his desire to welcome his new colleague. He didn’t. And his relationship with Dr. Sharon remained rocky for quite some time. I don’t want to imply that baking would have solved everything; there were plenty of other issues these two had to work through over the course of the season. I do hope, though, that as we move into season three, Ted will continue in his quest to win people over, one biscuit at a time, and that he will perhaps become more attuned to the needs of others as a result of his relationship with Dr. Sharon.
In the meantime, if you fancy attempting to “crack the recipe” of the perfect Ted Lasso shortbread biscuit, there are several out there for you to try: This is the official recipe shared by AppleTV+, but this one is also delicious (“fruity language” notwithstanding). And if you don’t eat sugar, here’s one for you as well. Happy baking, y’all.
@ana_calderone Resharing this because Ted is back and these are so easy and delicious! #tedlasso #recipe #fyp ♬ original sound – ana calderone