The Paul Hollywood effect
"The wonderful thing about baking, is anyone can do it"
Award-winning baker, best-selling author and star of one of Britain’s most successful TV shows - The Great British Bake off - Paul Hollywood’s no-nonsense approach has made him an overnight celebrity and the go-to guy for all things baking.
Despite working in television for 14 years, it wasn't until the Bake Off bug swept the nation that Hollywood became a household name. ‘As soon as the first episode went live it was like bang - I’m famous. Before I knew it random people on the street were bombarding me with questions about making cake.’
Hollywood, however, is not surprised by the British public’s obsession with baking. ‘The wonderful thing about baking is that anybody can do it. All you need is a bag of flour, a pot of baking powder, a bit of sugar and some butter - and you can make an entire cake. It really is as simple as that. And to me, that’s really magical.’
Son of a professional baker, Hollywood has been baking since the age of 6. He worked at his dad’s bakery after a very brief stint studying sculpture at college before moving onto prestigious hotels including the Dorchester and Claridge’s as head baker.
And as a judge on The Great British Bake off, Hollywood shows no signs of slowing down. Now in its fifth series, the much-loved show has moved to BBC One with second helpings in the form of a new spin-off show called An Extra Slice on BBC Two.
Presented by Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, the programme is credited with reinvigorating baking in Britain. It has grown in popularity from series one in 2010, watched by an average of 2.8 million viewers, to an average audience of 7 million in series four in 2013. A mammoth 8.4 million watched Frances Quinn crowned winner last year.
Favourite thing to bake?
A basic wholemeal loaf. I make it at midday, leave it to prove through the afternoon, cook it in the evening then leave it to cool overnight. I enjoy it toasted with butter, it’s the best thing ever.
If I wasn’t a baker…
I’d be a fireman.
Three reasons everyone should bake?
It’s simple, easy and cheap.
The one piece of equipment every home baker should own?
A set of digital scales.
Your top tips for aspiring bakers?
Follow a good recipe, watchThe Great British Bake Off and never rush.
Top 3 ingredients?
Flour, yeast and some good olive oil.
Proudest non-baked creation?
I make a mean steak with Roquefort sauce, which I love to cook as a treat for my wife and family.
To keep baking and continue being a judge on The Great British Bake Off.
The Great British Bake Off is on Wednesdays at 8pm on BBC One with An Extra Slice airing afterwards at 9pm on BBC Two.