Great British Bake Off star Paul Hollywood on finding fame
The Great British Bake Off has made a star of Paul Hollywood, who once worked at a bakery in Lydney. WEEKEND catches up with the bread-making heart-throb
FOR around seven million of us, there’s a gaping hole on Tuesday nights now the latest series of The Great British Bake Off has come to an end.
But it’s not just those glorious gingerbread structures and plaited loaves that will be missed.
With his twinkly eyes, authoritative voice and enviable skills in the kitchen, judge Paul Hollywood has become a housewives’ favourite.
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“It’s a bit of an embarrassment, but it’s very flattering. Any bloke who says it isn’t is a liar,” the married star says of his new-found attention.
“I get a lot of tweets and have had a couple of marriage proposals. I’m also contacted by lots of kids who want to get into baking. There’s a real cross-section.”
Paul once worked at Rathbones bakery in Lydney and is no stranger to the county – he likes his cherries not just in pies but on the pitch being a big fan of Gloucester Rugby.
The baking trend is sweeping the nation, with new research by Kenwood revealing more than a third of us manage to bake every fortnight.
“Cooking can be a bit tricky, but baking is relatively quick and the basics are easy,” said Paul.
“Get a good recipe, get all your ingredients weighed up on digital scales and you end up with something that’s very palatable.”
Viewers saw law graduate John Whaite crowned surprise winner of the third series. He beat Brendan Lynch and James Morton to the crown after wowing Paul and co-judge Mary Berry with his ‘heaven and hell’ cake.
“We chose John because when you go into the final you go in there with a clean slate. It’s only if it’s really close that we have to look back on the series,” he said.
Hollywood is a dab hand at cakes himself, but it is for making bread that he is best known. He has his own artisan bread business in Kent and reckons the humble loaf is the next big trend.
“I think bread’s taken off in a big way – healthy breads, rye breads, wholemeal all seem to be on the rise, as well as home bread-making kits.”
In his new book, How To Bake, he laments the fact that commercial baking has become “too focused on speed and profit”, and urges home bakers to allow time to let their doughs ferment slowly, thus creating flavour.
But with a new solo cookery show in the pipeline and rumours of possible work on the US version of Bake Off, as well as a spin-off show in France, it’s a wonder he finds time to indulge his passion. So does he ever find himself popping to the supermarket for a readymade loaf?
“Of course I get bread from my business, but I’ll go and have any bread if it’s any good. Warburtons is probably the best sliced one I eat – I use that for a bacon butty.”
As much as he enjoys his TV work, he is adamant he’ll always stick to what he does best.
“My business is baking and I’ll carry on doing that. The rest is just the icing on the already substantial cake.”
* How To Bake by Paul Hollywood is published by Bloomsbury, priced £20.
* See Paul with Mary Berry and this year’s winner John Whaite at the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham, November 28-December 2.