Paul Hollywood returns with a classic cookbook
Last updated on September 21st, 2022 at 11:40 am
To see for himself that he and The Great British Bake Off have achieved iconic status in popular culture, all that Paul Hollywood needs to do is log in to his account on Netflix.
There, in the spectacular heist picture Red Notice released the previous year and starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot, was a glimpse of Hollywood’s show, an improbable hit on both the American and the British sides of the Atlantic.
Gadot is depicted in one moment unwinding in front of a television after having been double-crossed or triple-crossed. At the same time, she is waiting for one of her co-stars to walk into a trap. “She then proceeds to watch me compete on the Bake Off, at which point I exclaim, “What? That right there is Wonder Woman!'” said Hollywood, still amazed.
Even though Hollywood has reached its maximum level of Hollywoodization, he is not forgetting where the real magic takes place. This summer, the English baking expert went back to fundamentals, presenting ultimate versions of recipes that have been tweaked and updated for the modern world in the new cookbook Bake that was published by Bloomsbury Publishing.
“There were certain things that I thought were too sweet, and there was no justification for including so much sugar in them. Over the course of the past 20, 30, 40, or 50 years, I believe our tastes have evolved,” he stated. “Well, if you can eliminate sugar and still have a wonderful cake, then surely that’s a positive thing,” was the train of thinking that went through my head.
The book is broken up into six sections: breads and flatbreads, pizzas and doughnuts, pastries and pies, and desserts. The first three sections cover baked goods such as cakes, cookies, and scones. Everything from chocolate orange banana bread and cheese and onion soda bread to quattro formaggi pizza and fish pot pies may be found in their perfected forms today.
The goal of each recipe is to convey the spirit of the dish, and Hollywood is hopeful that home cooks may pick up some useful techniques. “As soon as you have mastered it, you will be able to modify it in various ways, adjust it, change it, and make it your own. You have to get the hang of it first; you have to learn to walk before you can learn to sprint,” he remarked.
In addition to reducing the amount of sugar that was used, Hollywood has also reduced the amount of salt that was used. He has also put his own spin on certain recipes, such as requesting that bread flour, also known as strong flour, be used in his scones and replacing lemon with lime in his meringue pie.
Hollywood is a former professional baker who has developed a media empire by producing cookbooks and serving as a judge on television cooking competitions. It’s well known that he gives contestants a coveted handshake, and he’s just as well known for the candid assessments of dishes that he gives, saying things like “I can’t believe… I think they’re going to be a little bit of a mess, and they need to spend a lot more time in the oven. It’s not even close to being done. It’s really too bad.”
Because of “The Great British Bake Off,” both he and his partner judge Prue Leith are now recognized all over the world. Paul Hollywood Eats Mexico, The American Baking Competition, and Junior Bake Off are just a few of the series that Hollywood has spawned as spin-offs.
Each dish in Bake is straightforward and unpretentious, much like Hollywood, which is reflected in the book’s overall tone. It is common for there to be only a few sentences of introduction followed by an explanation of his alterations and then a set of directives that are as brief as possible, with some being no more than a few hundred words.
“You can have your froufrou and your fluffy comments while you’re eating with your pal,” he remarked with a giggle. “You can have your froufrou and your fluffy comments. Let’s just cut to the chase, get the bloody thing produced, and then you can sit down and speak,” I replied. “Let’s just cut to the chase.”
According to him, all you actually require to bake like a pro is a kitchen scale, your hands, and a reliable oven. Those who are interested in baking but are nervous about working with yeast or humidity need not be.
He stated, “I think ultimately it comes down to the dishes themselves being really approachable. You are already 90% of the way there just by accurately weighing the ingredients in the recipe, provided that your oven has been serviced, meaning that it has been cleaned and kept well, and that it is achieving the temperature that it claims it is achieving. After that, all that’s left to do is toss everything into a mixer and give it a good whirl.”
The enthusiasm that Hollywood possesses for baking is contagious, and his expertise is extensive. If you thought that San Francisco was the birthplace of sourdough, which gained more popularity during the epidemic, Hollywood goes back even deeper. According to him, the ancient Egyptians were the first people to bake it, and they did it in honor of the sun god Ra. After them came the Romans, and finally the Europeans, who carried it with them when they immigrated to California.
“What exactly is a sourdough bread? If you’re not using yeast that you bought from a store, you’re making your own yeast out of flour and water, and you’re utilizing the bacteria that are floating about in the air, then what you’re making is a sourdough, in my opinion,” he stated.
In reference to the pandemic, Hollywood is heartened by the fact that an increasing number of bakers are retreating to their homes in order to produce muffins, cookies, and other baked products for sale.
“Baking is a hobby that people like, which was definitely there in the past. However, despite the pandemic, they have continued to cultivate their interest in the subject. And now it’s developed into a full-fledged passion, a talent, a profession, or a business that they want to invest in,” he said.
He stated that even the contestants on The Great British Bake Off, which has already shot 12 seasons with no end in sight, are showing signs of a better level of understanding, intelligence, and enthusiasm in their baking.
“It has always been there, but recently, I’ve noticed that its presence is becoming ever more pronounced. They have a great deal of baking knowledge, which is something that they did not have during seasons one and two,” he explains. “They were good, and they showed interest in the topic, but they appear to have acquired a great deal of additional knowledge since then. That completely blows my head.”
In addition, Hollywood has observed that more guys are participating in baking, which is something that Hollywood encourages. In addition to this, he wants them to get their hands dirty by working with dough rather than occupying themselves with video games on their Playstations or Switches.
“Baking is all about being as daft as possible with your touch and being as delicate as possible with some of the sponges in order to make something that looks incredible and tastes even better. In my experience, it is always something that is really inclusive.”