PHS editor Michelle Styles investigates Paul Hollywood, the man who has made baking cool in Britain again.
Paul Hollywood, he of the very piecing blue eyes which positively twinkle when he is teasing his co-judge Mary Berry, has been responsible for making baking cool in Britain. He is one of the co-judges on The Great British Bake Off and has recently been in the US filming its American counterpart. He also runs a artisan bakery which supplies Harrods and Waitrose. After abandoning art school, he started out in his father's bakery and became head baker at a number of London hotels, including the Dorchester. He spent several years as a head baker at two resorts in Cyprus. So he is very much a self-made man with baking in his blood. He is married with a pre-teen son. He was born in the Wirral in 1966.
Anyone who can get my 17 year old rugby playing son to demand to make bread has my vote. He is easy on the eye and ear. But he also exudes a confident manner. You know he is in charge and he is not afraid to challenge. An alpha male who bakes and takes pride in his work.
The glee that he exudes when setting a technical challenge particularly in the episode on bread making is a joy to behold. He is tough but fair. You can see that he does want the contestants to succeed. He is also willing to take the time to explain where things can go wrong.
His passion for bread comes through loud and clear. He wants people not to be afraid of baking and to experiment with different flavours. His recipes do work (once you know the various techniques). His foccacia recipe became legendary in the 2nd series of The Great British Bake off because it was not a straight forward bread recipe. Foccacia is an extremely wet dough and Paul's recipe had equal parts water to flour. It works either the way he did it or by adding the flour very slowly to the water and beating, beating, beating.
In series 3 it was the 7 plaited (braided) loaf which caused problems.
He also gives tips such as kneading is good for preventing bingo wings. His series on Bread is currently running on the BBC. And the masterclasses he has done for Easter and Christmas have become notorious in my family for my husband deciding that he wants the various baked goods. Luckily my daughter and I had it all in hand.
He is very watchable and inspirational. And there is just something about his eyes...
If you want to see why you can watch this video that he made to promote his How to Bake book.
He has also written a book on Bread.