After going to art school, “I just needed a job,” admits Hollywood, 56. “The 80s were difficult for everyone, everyone was unemployed. So you had to have a job to make money – it was hard, being young. Getting a trade was always a bonus, whether you were a plumber or a builder or whatever, and I ended up becoming a baker.
“It was a skill I had to learn, but I learned it pretty quickly” – and he knows how lucky he is to have fallen in love with the art of baking. “Anyone doing a job they love – it’s not like work. Getting out of bed in the morning was difficult, but you get used to it.
Hollywood wrote his latest cookbook, Bake, while in the Bake Off bubble in 2021 — and he couldn’t have chosen a better environment. “It gave me the motivation, because everything was at my fingertips – some of the things I was eating at the time, I thought I could improve on that, or do something like that.”
“I relax when I’m baking, when I have a piece of dough in my hand or if I have a cake in the oven, I watch it rise,” Hollywood says. “I relax, because my mind is busy with something else. I just focus on what I’m doing.”
Ultimate Sausage Roll Recipe
(For 6 persons)
For the coarse puff pastry:
225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½tsp fine salt
200 g cold unsalted butter, diced
Juice of ½ lemon
180–200ml cold water
For the filling:
1 tablespoon oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
400 g sausage meat (or your favorite sausages, without skin)
125g Stilton, crumbled
1 tbsp thyme leaves
A pinch of white pepper
2 egg yolks beaten to glaze
2 tsp nigella seeds
2 tsp sesame seeds
1. To make the dough, put the flour, salt and butter in a bowl. Mix the lemon juice with the water and add three quarters of the liquid to the bowl. Stir gently until mixture comes together to form a lumpy paste, adding remaining liquid as needed. Don’t knead or overwork – you want chunks of butter throughout the dough.
2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flatten it into a rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll out into a narrow rectangle about 2.5 cm thick. Fold one third of the dough over itself, then the opposite third over it, as if you were folding a business letter. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
3. Unwrap the dough and start again by rolling the dough at 90° to the original roll, into a 40cm x 15cm rectangle, then fold as before. Film and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Repeat the process two more times, chilling the dough for at least 20 minutes between folds.
4. Heat your oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. For the filling, heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat, add the onion and cook for seven to 10 minutes until softened and just golden brown. Let cool.
6. In a bowl, combine the sausage meat with the cooled onion, crumbled Stilton, thyme and white pepper. With floured hands, roll the filling into a sausage 20 cm long and wrap it well in cling film. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
7. Roll out the dough into a 30cm x 20cm rectangle and trim the edges to fit. Place on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Unwrap the sausage and lay it along the rectangle of dough 6 cm from one edge.
8. Brush the exposed pastry with the beaten egg yolk, leaving the 6cm border uncovered. Fold the egg-washed pastry over the sausage filling until it meets the border and enclose the sausage filling. Press the edges firmly. Press firmly with a floured fork along the entire length of the sealed edge. (You may need to continue dipping the fork in flour to keep it from sticking.)
9. Brush the sausage roll with more egg and score the pastry on the diagonal. Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Heat your oven to 210°C/Fan 190°C/Gas 6½. Brush the dough again with egg, over the entire surface, then sprinkle with nigella and sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and crispy and sausage meat is cooked through.
10. Let cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite pickles and chutney.
Victoria sandwich recipe
4 large eggs (in their shells)
About 270 g caster sugar
About 270g of self-rising flour
About 135 g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing the molds
About 135g of soft margarine
125 g raspberry jam (good quality)
A little caster sugar, for sprinkling
1. Heat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan oven/Gas 4. Butter two 20cm sandwich molds and line the bottoms with parchment paper. First weigh the eggs (in their shells), then weigh the same amount of sugar and flour. For butter and margarine, half the weight of eggs is needed.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, margarine and sugar with an electric whisk until the mixture is pale, light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat again.
3. Beat the eggs together in a bowl, then gradually add to the mixture, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Sift the flour over the surface of the mixture and gently fold in using a large metal spoon.
4. Divide the mixture between the prepared molds. To make sure the cakes are exactly the same size, you can weigh the cake mix in each pan. Gently smooth the surface with the back of the spoon to level it.
5. Bake in center of oven for 25 minutes until puffed, golden and cakes spring back in center when lightly touched with fingertips. They should be tapered slightly away from the edges of the tin. Leave the cakes in the molds for five minutes, then remove them to a wire rack. Let cool completely.
6. When cold, enclose the cakes with the raspberry jam and sprinkle the top with a little caster sugar.
For the choux pastry:
60g of butter
60g plain flour
60g strong white bread flour
3 large eggs
Sunflower oil, for frying
For the lemon curd filling:
Finely grated zest and juice of 4 lemons
190g caster sugar
100 g butter, at room temperature, in pieces
3 medium eggs
1 extra egg yolk
100ml fresh whipped cream
For the icing:
100g sifted icing sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
About 25ml of water
1. First, prepare the lemon curd filling. Put the lemon zest and juice, sugar and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter is completely melted, then remove from the heat. In another bowl, beat together the eggs and extra yolk, then stir into the lemon mixture. Return the pan to low heat and stir well for 10-15 minutes until thickened. Pass the lemon curd through a sieve into a clean bowl and allow to cool before incorporating the whipped cream.
2. To make the choux pastry, put the water and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat to melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, turn up the heat and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Immediately add the two flours and beat well to incorporate them into the liquid. Continue beating until the mixture forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan. Let cool slightly, for five minutes.
3. Transfer the mixture to an electric mixer fitted with the paddle beater. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the beaten eggs. Once all the egg has been incorporated, increase the speed to medium and beat until glossy and thick. The mixture should roughly fit on the end of a spoon and be silky smooth.
4. Cut eight 12cm squares of parchment paper. Put the choux pastry in a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm star nozzle and pipe a circle 10 cm in diameter on each square of paper. (Or, as a guide, you can draw a circle on the paper and then flip it over.)
5. Heat the oil in a fryer or other deep pan over medium heat to 180°C (check with a thermometer). You will need to fry your cabbage rings, two or three at a time: gently dip in the oil, paper side up, then remove the paper with tongs. Fry the rings for three to four minutes. Drain and place on a wire rack. Cut a small hole in the side of each ring to let the steam escape and cool.
6. When cool, enlarge the hole in the side of each ring so you can insert a small piping nozzle. Spoon the lemon curd filling into a piping bag fitted with a plain 5mm tip and pipe into the choux rings to be filled, until you meet resistance.
7. For the frosting, mix the icing sugar with the lemon zest and enough water to make a shiny frosting with a thick, flowing consistency. Brush the top of each chouxnut to coat and let set before serving. Enjoy!
Bake: My Best Ever Recipes For The Classics by Paul Hollywood is published by Bloomsbury Publishing. Photography by Haarala Hamilton.