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'Great British Bake-Off' judge Paul Hollywood unveils his best ever recipes in 'Bake'

Paul Hollywood (Haarala Hamilton)
Paul Hollywood (Haarala Hamilton)

For fans of the “Great British Bake-Off,” Paul Hollywood needs no introduction. The celebrity chef and judge is known for his handshake of approval for the most magnificent baked goods.

Coming from decades of kitchen experience in his father’s bakery to the finest hotels in Britain, Hollywood has compiled his skills into his first new cookbook in five years, “Bake: My Best Ever Recipes for the Classics.

Hollywood says the “indulgent” recipes blend all the things he likes to eat, including pizza, donuts, biscuits, pies and classic cakes.

“The recipes themselves are recipes that I’ve known most of my life,” Hollywood says. “I just wanted to revisit some of them because they have changed slightly over the years … Some of the bakers that come in the tent started bringing in these classics again and I’d forgotten about them and I thought, ‘I need to look at those again because they are such beautiful things to eat.’”

‘Bake: My Best Ever Recipes for the Classics’ Cover

Several of Hollywood’s recipes blend butter and margarine together. Butter, Hollywood explains, brings flavor and mixing in margarine or shortening brings a flaky texture. Hollywood also suggests using superfine sugar instead of granulated sugar. Superfine sugar can make the baking process smoother, whereas granulated sugar adds crunch to the batter.

For new bakers, Hollywood suggests making the Victoria Sandwhich, which uses flour, butter, baking powder, eggs and sugar. After baking the cake in two tins, spread raspberry jam on top of one cake, then sandwich the other cake on top to make a sandwich.

“It’s that recipe that you can throw together. You put it all in a bowl and just mix it all together and it works beautifully,” Hollywood says.

Bread, another addition to the cookbook, was one of the first things Hollywood learned how to make growing up in his father’s bakery. He still follows to his father’s techniques today, using a slow-speed mixing method, which Hollywood says creates a creamy dough. Fast-mixing speeds form heat in the dough, which makes it grow rapidly and lose flavor.

As Hollywood writes in “Bake,” bread tells us a lot about society’s history. For instance, he says, unleavened or flatbread used by Israelites could indicate they were frequently on the move. Meanwhile Egyptians, along with the Romans and Greeks, had ovens and produced airy loaves.

“It’s the history of the human,” he says. “It’s our DNA. It’s our culture throughout the world. It’s fascinating.”

Of all the recipes in the book, Hollywood’s favorite is sourdough. When coming up with the recipe, he wanted it to be approachable and bulletproof. It took time for Hollywood to get the ingredients and timing right — and the end result is a recipe he’s most proud of.

“When you think of baking, whether it’s a cake or it’s a loaf or whatever it is, it’s the thing that sits in the middle of the table …The loaf is the focal point,” Hollywood says. “If you’ve got a cake, then it sits in the middle. So baking is quite an important thing in our history, and I think it’s the thing that everyone should really get into and enjoy, hopefully.”

Emiko Tamagawa produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Gabe Bullard. Jeannette Muhammad adapted it for the web.

Book excerpt: ‘Bake: My Best Ever Recipes for the Classics”

By Paul Hollywood

Victoria Sandwich

If you’re new to baking, this should be your very first cake. If you get it right, everything else will be easy. You can make a Victoria sandwich using the all-in-one method, where you mix everything together in a bowl at the same time, but I encourage you to cream the fats and sugar together before adding the eggs, flour and raising agent, as you’ll learn a lot about baking this way. Baking is a science. That’s why, if possible, I prefer to weigh the eggs first and then adjust the quantities of the other ingredients to get the perfect balance. I like to use half margarine for a lighter texture and half butter for a rich flavor. Traditionally, it’s filled with just preserves, but if you’re feeling indulgent, feel free to add whipped cream or buttercream.

8–10 slices

  • 4 large eggs (in their shells)
  • 1 ¼ cups (about 240g) superfine sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups plus 3 tbsp (about 240g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 stick (about 120g) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease the pans
  • 1 stick (about 120g) margarine, softened

To finish

  • ½ cup (125g) raspberry preserves (good-quality)
  • A little superfine sugar, to sprinkle

Heat your oven to 350°F. Grease two 8-inch (20cm) cake pans and line the bases with parchment paper. Weigh the eggs first (in their shells), then weigh the same quantity of sugar and flour. For the butter and the margarine, you need half the weight of the eggs.

In a large bowl, cream the butter, margarine and sugar together using an electric whisk until pale in color and light and fluffy (1). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.

Beat the eggs together in a pitcher, then gradually add to the mixture, beating well after each addition (2). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Sift the flour and baking powder over the surface of the mixture and gently fold in, using a large metal spoon (3).

Divide the mixture between the prepared cake pans. To ensure the cakes are exactly the same size you can weigh the cake mixture into each pan. Gently smooth the surface with the back of the spoon to level it (4).

Bake in the center of the oven for 25 minutes until risen, golden brown and the cakes spring back in the center when lightly touched with a fingertip. They should be slightly shrunken away from the edges of the pan. Leave the cakes in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.

When cold, sandwich the cakes together with the raspberry preserves and sprinkle the top with a little superfine sugar.

Excerpted from ‘Bake: My Best Ever Recipes for the Classics.’ Copyright (c) 2022 by Paul Hollywood. Used with permission of the publisher, Bloomsbury. All rights reserved.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.