California bakery’s Han Solo bread sculpture is a star attraction
If you’ve ever wondered whether it’s possible to make a 6-foot sculpture of “Star Wars” character Han Solo out of bread, well, a Bay Area bakery has risen to the occasion.
Hannalee Pervan and her mother, Catherine, co-owners of One House Bakery in Benicia, Calif., created a doughy replica of Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford, frozen in carbonite from the 1980 movie “The Empire Strikes Back,” for the city’s annual downtown scarecrow contest.
They’re calling it “Pan Solo.”
Both mother and daughter love science fiction and began tossing around ideas months ago, they said, including creating replicas of R2-D2 from “Star Wars” and Audrey from “Little Shop of Horrors.” But neither would fit into the bread oven.
“I kept coming back to this image of Han Solo trapped in carbonite,” said Catherine Pervan, referring to the pain on Han Solo’s face, the way his hands are reaching for an escape. “It’s so iconic.”
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Once they settled on Han Solo, they began toiling late into the night after the bakery had closed up shop, listening to music including Pink Floyd and the Lumineers. A former college basketball player, the younger Pervan served as the model for the sculpture, with her mother tracing an outline of her onto a piece of plywood that they then loaded up with dough.
They used dead dough, Hannalee Pervan said, which is made of bread, water and sugar and has no yeast. It feels like dense Play-Doh, she added. Her resume includes working at Bouchon Bakery and baking bread for the French Laundry, both in Yountville, Calif., and owned by Thomas Keller.
They ordered a mask of Ford’s face and spent about 10 days perfecting his features, they said, fretting in particular over his “luscious” and “voluptuous” lips.
Hannalee Pervan racked her brain wondering how big to make them. “I was like if they’re not right, they’re going to look like he’s a duck,” she said. At one point, she was smacking Ford’s doughy face, trying to suppress the volume, only to realize it needed to be raised slightly.
“She’s pulling [employees] from the bakery saying, ‘Come and look at this, come and look at this: Does that look like Harrison Ford?’” her mother said. Ford’s hands were also challenging, they said. (They haven’t heard from Ford yet, but Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, tweeted about their bready model.)
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It’s not the first time they’ve blended their love of baking, bread and characters from pop culture for the city’s annual contest, which encourages businesses to get creative about scarecrows.
For their first entry, they paid homage to “Game of Thrones,” calling it “Game of Scones” by making a White Walker out of dead dough and a bread throne of baguettes. The following year was a nod to the television series “The Mandalorian,” with a “Pain-dough-lorian” out of bread, “Baby Dough-Da” floating in a mixing bowl and clothed in bread, and “Pandroid” with kitchen tools. Last year, they looked to the series “Loki” and made “Dough-ki,” a twist on the Alligator Loki character played by Tom Hiddleston, out of bread.
“Pan Solo,” which they unveiled last week and weighs an estimated 350 pounds, came just in time to celebrate the bakery’s fourth anniversary on Saturday and its reopening later this month after being closed to the public because of the pandemic.
The public has so far loved “Pan Solo,” they said, and is taking photos with him and stopping to smell him.
“We’ve mended him three times, and all three times have been because people can’t keep their hands off him,” Catherine Pervan said. Even dogs have taken a nibble out of the sides.
The sculpture and the reopening to the public are especially meaningful for her daughter, who lost her sense of smell and taste after coming down with COVID last year.
“It’s something to provide happiness,” Hannalee Pervan said. It’s also special to her and her mother; they spent many hours baking together when she was young, dreaming of owning her own bakery one day.
When spooky season is over, they’ll either give “Pan Solo” away, or they’ll compost him and save the plywood for next year.
They’re already tossing around ideas, they said. So far, the recipe might include a Marvel character or two.
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