I have been taking a break from my full menus lately because I got swept up in my new love affair with Paul Hollywood–OK, just his book titled British Baking, but seriously, I am in love. You might want to stop reading right now if you were hoping for something more torrid than flour, fats, and sugar. I purchased Paul Hollywood’s British Baking book because my 17 year old daughter is a huge fan of the The Great British Bake Off. This book has been a revolution for me and my baking/cooking skills, but also her skills as well. I will briefly explain, and then enjoy my photos of my cooking tour of England with our tour guide, my new love, Paul Hollywood.
This book has elevated my cooking skills because Mr. Hollywood has made me more aware of my measurements, ingredients, and what to look for in each stage of the cooking process. His instructions are brief, yet clear. The result is a product that is far superior to anything I have baked in the past, but my results from this book are also better than what I can get from most bakeries in my area. Everything is just delicious and the texture is superb.
My daughter who loves to bake has some special needs that have made cooking and many other things challenging for her in her daily life. Using standard American measurements of scooping out cups has been one of these challenges for her. She just does not have the coordination to level off a proper cup of flour, sugar, etc. It seems like she invariably under or over scoops and I always need to step in to help her make corrections. Using a scale, however, is much easier for her. We just put a bowl on top of the scale and she pours the flour in until it reaches the proper weight. Once it hits the correct number, 500 grams, for example, she stops. If she over poured than she just takes a little spoon and spoons out very carefully until the number is exactly 500 grams. This method is so easy for her I can’t believe we haven’t used a kitchen scale a long time ago! If you have a special needs person in your life who has occupational challenges such as that, I highly recommend switching to weights for cooking rather than American volume cup measurements.
The format of Paul Hollywood’s British Baking book is like a baking tour of the British Isles. A history of England through the eyes of a baker. The chapters are divided into geographic and cultural areas of the British Isles. The recipes include both the savory and sweet, and yeasted breads to scones. The array of baked goods in this book is wonderful, and as a student of baking (which you will be if you are cooking from this book) it will keep your interest in both challenges with technique and variety in taste and texture. Take a look at the pictures of the items we baked from the first chapter and you will can see this variety.
I would love to hear about your cooking revolutions and discoveries and any challenges you may have regarding cooking like those of my daughters. Please enjoy the pictures and kitchen notes.
I have a feeling once you start baking with Paul Hollywood you will fall in love with him too and start a long and delicious affair with British Baking!
Pictures from Chapter One: The Southwest
The following pictures are all items from his first Chapter titled, “The Southwest.” There are two recipes from this chapter I have not made and those are the Baked Somerset Brie and the Oldbury Gooseberry Pies. I plan to make these, but I can’t find gooseberries right now and the baked brie calls for cranberries which are in season in November. So, I might add those once I make them at a later date.
These were huge and delicious. The recipe calls for lard and I think this is the first time I have had lard in my house and thus in my cooking.
Not much to say other than, AMAZING.
Wholemeal Seeded Loaf
Excellent. I forgot to make the snips along the top of the loaf, but it did not detract from how good this loaf tastes.
Another superb baked good. Have with a cup of tea and some strawberries.
The British like their currents and this loaf is stuffed FULL of them. I was skeptical but the currents are so fruity and delicious and paired with the saffron and lemon peel it was scrumptious.
Best to serve these as soon as you make them.
As Mr. Hollywood explains in his book, these were originally made close to a brewery using the yeast from the beer making process which is why they were spiced. The spice attempted to hide the strong flavor of the beer yeast. I made these with regular bread yeast, but I make beer and I wonder if I should try someday to make these as they originally were made. That might be a fun cooking experiment.
These might be one of my favorite recipes, but they are best served the moment after you frost them. Don’t attempt to keep them in plastic wrap as the frosting will just drip off. They taste like a raised doughnut, but so much better and so pretty too!
Strawberry and Pistachio Shortcakes
Stunning presentation and surprisingly easy.
Dorset Apple Cake
A strong nutmeg flavor. Great texture. I used poppy seeds rather than the more traditional caraway.
More of those wonderful little fruity jewels called currents. This cake you have to make to understand. The picture didn’t make the cake look that appealing to me, but the flavor and texture of this cake is fantastic. Almost like shortbread, but not. We Americans just don’t have anything comparable to this cake.
Drink a nice strong Assam Tea with these little cookies. And you can find the perfect Assam here.