what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

Archive for the category “Paul Hollywood”

Paul Hollywood’s pitta bread

Still working my way through his TV series recipes. This one is over here.

Pittas are often the first bread that people try to make at home because they are essentially easy and don’t require much effort. I remember making them back in the dark ages, as a student in the late 1980s I can even remember making the pancakes that go with Peking Duck, although I’m not sure I ever did the duck to go with them. Back then I used the pitta recipe in Arto der Haroutunian’s Yoghurt book. Back in those days yogurt had an ‘h’ in the middle of it and the book had no pictures. If you can get one second hand on under the Penguin imprint I commend it to you. I never thought much about the author back then, but the book reads like he knows what he’s talking about from personal first hand experience. It also contains a fantastic banana gateau recipe which I may try again sometime soon. Checking out his website today you’ll see he’s been dead a while but as he was born in Syria of Armenian parents under difficult circumstances, he’d probably not be happy about what’s going on in Syria today.

Nothing particularly tricky in there, nigella seeds can be got from the supermarket, but note that there’s quite a lot, so if you take to them you’ll be spending about 75p per batch just on seeds if you get the Bart ones from a supermarket (like I did – idiot!) I’ll be getting some Kalonji seeds from an Indian grocer or the ethnic bit of the supermarket they have them, not spending another £1.69 or whatever it was in Waitrose for 45g of Bart’s seeds. I’m not entirely sure why they are in the pittas when they normally turn up in naan breads.

There’s quite a lot of yeast for a small amount of flour and also the salt is high at 1 tsp for 250g of flour. Other recipes may vary, like Dan ‘ over here, so let’s see how it turns out. I’m still fascinated by the idea that ‘professional’ bakers can give such different recipes for essentially the same thing.

OK – pictures below. Nothing particular to complain about there. We ate some with some curried chicken leftovers, mango chutney and yoghurt, in deference to the almost naan bread flavouring the nigella seeds give them.

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Paul Hollywood’s malt loaf

Another recipe from Paul Hollywood’s tv series. [Edit 2 Oct 2013] This page is getting lots of views this weekend, I’d appreciate any comments you have about why you’ve searched for it. Thank you 🙂 I see that they are repeating Paul Hollywood’s tv series at the moment, which is great if it encourages more people to start baking. I’ve made loads of these loaves over the last 5 months, they are very easy. I’ve also found that if it looks like too much, then cutting a loaf into thirds or halves and freezing a bit is a good idea. Now back to the story….

I’m making this because frequent readers will know I’m training for the LondonSurrey 100 mile bike ride in August. As a result I am eating carbs like they are going out of fashion, and I need something that’s not too sugar loaded and isn’t cake to be taking on rides and eating as snacks. So as I do buy the occasional Soreen loaf I thought I’d have a go at the Paul Hollywood version. Original Soreen contains similar ingredients to the Paul Hollywood version, but no treacle and includes E150c (caramel) and preservatives.

The recipe is available here. A pretty straightforward selection of ingredients, with treacle to give it browness. I’m not sure why he tells you to go to a baker for malt extract, I got mine in Holland and Barrett and Potters’ Herbal Rayners Essentials , Meridian Foods brands are  also quite widely available. There’s also the whole other world of brewing malts that could also be used. Some readers may recognise malt extract as ‘Roo’s strengthening medicine’, from the Winnie the Pooh stories. Like Kanga, my mother also used to give me malt extract on a spoon as a dietary supplement. It apparently contains vitamin A and riboflavin, and according to a Daily Telegraph article, the sugars are too easily absorbed causing an insulin spike and possibly diabetes in the long run. Well, a little of what you fancy won’t do much harm I suppose. I quite like the taste but don’t like the stringiness getting it out of the jar.

For my effort, I found I didn’t have any sultanas so threw in a selection of golden raisins, regular raisins, currants, and a few dried cherries that looked like they needed eating up. I also don’t have two 1lb loaf tins so it all went in one big one, and I used a flexible silicone one in case it stuck fast.


Easy recipe, mixing the gloopy ingredients and butter first. I used the microwave as all my small pans were in the wash after Sunday lunch. Then add to the dried ingredients with some water. No tricky kneading, just enough to make sure it is mixed up evenly. Then it goes into the loaf tin for a rise. I gave mine an hour and a half as I thought two hours looked too long, given the speed it was going it. Finally into the oven. The recipe says 30 to 40 mins, mine got the full 40, the last 10 with a foil cover.

It didn’t rise a lot in the oven. I have topped it off with the recommended tablespoon of warmed honey (in the microwave again!).  Then it was left to cool.


Results? Yes, you get what it says on the tin. It’s not overly sweet, the fruit is plentiful and it’s not a fluffy bun-like crumb. The crust is nice and a bit crunchy. It will definitely get eaten. It would probably survive as a cycling snack wrapped in film or foil and put in a pocket, but it could be a bit less robust than a bun. Having worn my legs out cycling up the Col de Cogenhoe today, I’m not so sure it’ll last until my next long outing, so I might have to make another one for next weekend. At least it’s easy.


Paul Hollywood’s Baguettes

I wondered how long it would be before he got out a machine to do the hard work. Really, a machine that can cost hundreds of pounds needed to make a mix of 250g of flour? I think not. If you don’t have a food mixer then don’t despair, all you need is a bit more time in the preparatory period. Let’s do it the Dan Lepard way instead, but we’ll use Paul’s ingredients. Of course you could just knead it by hand the Paul Hollywood way, but this is a bit easier.

So, put all the ingredients in a bowl. flour, oil, salt, yeast and water. I’m using fresh yeast today and warm water not cold, because my kitchen is positively Baltic and I want to give it a chance to get going. Warm water means 1 part boiling water to 3 parts cold tap water, it should not be warm to the touch. I also cut the salt by half. Let’s also not get into arguments as to whether proper baguettes need a lot of olive oil slopping in, we’re just going with it today. If you want a loaf without a lot of oil, try the Hairy Biker’s version from the Bakeation book, but you need another day or two to get that one going.


Mix it all up, with a fork or fingers, it doesn’t matter, into a rough ball. Leave it for 10 minutes.


Oil the work surface, tip it out, pat it down then do a Dan Lepard knead, just fold it over on itself 10 or 12 times. Leave for another 10 minutes.

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Knead again, leave again, knead again, then we’re back into Paul’s recipe so pop it in a bowl for about 2 hours, I left mine for about an hour and a half.
And it was all nice and stretchy.

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I don’t have a fancy baguette tray either so today they’re going on a heavily floured tea towel for the rise.

The online recipe doesn’t have the semolina mix that the TV programme did, so I’m leaving that off as well.

I put a baking tray in the oven to get nice and hot before I put the bread in, and I did steam the oven. And I reduced the total baking time by 10 minutes by doing that.

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Slightly disappointed that they didn’t spring much in the oven, but they were quite crunchy and went down well with some cheese and salad.

Paul Hollywood’s Maneesh flat bread

Slightly sooner than I actually intended making it, I bring you Paul Hollywood’s Maneesh flat bread from yesterday’s episode of Bread. My 10 year old son was watching with me and asked if he could try making the Maneesh ‘tomorrow’. Of course I said yes, you have to encourage youngsters when the mood takes them. And as he still wanted to try it this morning, I popped into Waitrose on the way to work to pick up the necessary sesame seeds, dried thyme and dried marjoram.

We dashed home after school as the window of opportunity is a bit limited in our house on a Tuesday as we have to get out to our evening activities by 6pm. So it was straight into washing hands and weighing out ingredients. As the recipe said it makes three large breads I thought we ought to do some damage limitation and divide by 3 to try to make one large maneesh. We’ve already got plenty of bread that needs eating up and there was a high risk that the boy wouldn’t like it and we’d be stuck with it, assuming it turned out OK and was like a paving slab. By dividing by 3 I could also offer cross-curricular maths while he did the calculations as to how much of everything we needed.

We may have had a bit more water than was actually required, and getting the dough into a kneadable state required a bit of extra oil and some flour, but eventually between the two of us it was in the bowl by 4pm, ready to rise.

As previously mentioned my kitchen is Baltic so I employed a little artificial heating to try to get some life into it. Given that we had the deadline to get out by 6pm I reckoned that it was only going to get about an hour to rise, til about 5pm, then it had to be rolled and left for 20 minutes, at which point I’d put the oven on and that was all it was going to get before the topping went on and it was baked. Then there was probably enough time for it to cool so we could try it before we went out.

The pictures today aren’t that great but the bread was delicious! We decided it would definitely be good as a starter with dips, and he’d even like to try making it again for his Cubs ‘cooking badge’.

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Paul Hollywood’s rye, ale and oat bread

The second of my Paul Hollywood bakes this week is the rye, ale and oat bread from the first programme.

For beginners this might look a bit scary. It’s mainly rye flour, and its got treacle and some ale in it. Rye flour doesn’t have much gluten in it so it is never going to be a bright and bouncy loaf. If you like bread with a bit of heft to it, this is one for you. There’s a lot of different brands of rye available these days. I’m using Bacheldre watermill flour, which is available in some supermarkets.

I’m also using fresh yeast as I do find it more reliable than packet yeast. A quick word on fresh yeast, it is available from all the supermarkets that have instore bakeries, sometimes I get charged 1p for a little bit that’ll last a week, sometimes 10p, and some charge proper money (Morrisons and Sainsbury’s are about 60p for 200g). Don’t be shy if you want to try, just say the magic words “can I have some fresh yeast please” at the bit where you can get your store-bought bread sliced and see what they give you. Other sources of retail may include wholefood shops (not to be confused with healthfood shops which are nothing of the sort) and local bakeries that bake on site, although you’ll be taking custom away from them if you bake a lot of your own bread so buy something while you are there.  Weight-wise, just use twice the weight or volume of fresh yeast to dried yeast, so two teaspoons where one is given or 20g for 10g as in the case of this recipe. And I’ve cut down on the salt, as mentioned previously I think 10g is probably twice what you need.

In the programme I think Paul mentioned making bread with ale or barm is a very old technique, and where we get the word ‘barmy’ – in the sense of mad, crazy and frothy. This loaf doesn’t use leaven with the ale so isn’t really all that old-fashioned.  There’s quite a discussion about barm and the place of malt and hops in making bread in times before commercial yeast became available in Dan Lepard’s The Handmade Loaf. Commercial yeast was created to make bread making more standardised and less prone to natural changes in the starters that bakers used. There’s also  a recipe for barm bread using a barm made from beer or ale, flour and leaven which I’ll have a look at when I’ve got a new batch of leaven established. So, because Paul’s loaf uses commercial yeast it isn’t really a barm, but hopefully it will taste good. I’m using Black Sheep Golden Sheep pale ale today as it was all we had apart from a chocolate porter, which I think I’ve reserved for something else.

For this loaf I did diverge from the recommendation to knead for 5-10 minutes. It was a very wet and sticky mix so I used the Dan Lepard approach of mix, leave for 10 mins, knead very briefly, leave 15 mins, knead briefly, and finally left for 30 mins and kneaded very quickly. My kitchen is baltic today due to the cold weather, being east facing and taking the brunt of the east wind. So I left it for about an hour and a half after that lot. It had risen quite well despite the cold. I made up the beer batter topping, and it was rather a lot so I think if I did it again I’d only make a half quantity. Then it was left to sit for an hour and a half while I did the typing above and pictures below.

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It was then left to prove for a further one and a half hours. And was rising well during that time. I also had to patch up the coating while it was rising as it strted to split a little, so just as well I didn’t throw out the spare coating mix. So how did it turn out? There was certainly some anxious pacing outside the oven as it started baking.


Got a bit of a rise there, the cracks opened up. And now waiting for it to cool down so we can cut it up and have it for tea with some cheese.


[Edit the next day] I don’t think Mr Hollywood got more of a rise out of it than that, it is quite dense but is very tasty. And I’d probably make it again if I were making a buffet lunch with a range of breads on offer.

Paul Hollywood’s Bloomer

First of all, it’s my blog’s birthday. what?bread? is one year old today. Thank you to everyone who’s ever taken a peak and I hope you’ve found what you’ve come looking for. If not, please leave a message or ask a question.

This month is going well and I hope to continue for another year at least! The public image of baking has gone from strength to strength this year with the rise of the Great British Bake Off and most recently the spin-off programme with Paul Hollywood.

The BBC has kindly asked the Silver Fox of Great British Bake-Off to put his money where his mouth his and make some programmes to show viewers how to make bread. If you’ve not seen the first episode, you can catch it on BBC i-player.

The first episode starts with a bloomer, followed swiftly by a ploughman’s loaf (lots of lovely brown flour and rye and oat topping), a malt loaf (versatile and could be made into a sort of bread and butter pudding), and a ‘trencher’ to use as a base for some lamb steaks and greenery. That’s all squeezed into half an hour alongside a nice look at a farmer and a miller who have a great working relationship near St Albans at Redbournbury.

I found it all quite exhausting to watch as Paul got stuck in to mixing and kneading, and boy does he knead strong, sometimes one in each hand! To the extent that I stopped watching what he was doing and started taking in the aesthetics of his kitchen and the slightly bonkers range of mixing bowls he had to use. It looked like the set designer had been given the run of John Lewis and got one of every type of bowl that looked like it would hold water. So the bloomer was mixed in a wooden bowl that looked like a salad bowl, then there’s a pyrex bowl for it to rise in, the ploughman’s loaf is made at the bakery at Redbournbury and is mixed in whatever they had, then back to Paul’s own kitchen for a nice white glazed bowl for the malt loaf, and then a blue coated steel bowl for the trencher.

However, that all sounds a bit mean, and you can find other reviews of the programme on the web.

So what about the bread? Well you can get the recipes online from the BBC, which is really what I pay my license fee for. I think they’ve tried to make the ingredients nice and simple, which is good, and so far only using instant yeast. They don’t give conversions for fresh yeast, so if you try them you’ll have to remember that you need approximately double the weight of fresh yeast.

One thing did strike me as not being quite as it should be and that was the amount of salt that is used. The basic bloomer has 10g of salt to 500g white flour, and that’s twice the amount recommended by the Real Bread Campaign for home bakers to use. I usually follow the advice of the campaign and use approximately one teaspoon per large loaf. I’ve made Paul’s bloomer and it really is quite salty. If your palate is used to store-bought bread you’ll probably find it too salty as most large retailers have reduced the salt in the bread that goes into supermarkets.

In Real Bread and industrial loaf baking salt in small quantities helps to:

  • Enhance flavour – if a loaf isn’t hanging about the kitchen for too long while it is rising, then it obviously helps to put some taste in.
  • Strengthen the gluten network
  • Aid the browning process
  • Act as a natural preservative – although I find real bread doesn’t hang about in our house and this isn’t a reason we need salt in our bread

I’ve written another blog about salt in bread to give a bit more information. Click here.

Also Paul’s recipe has approximately twice the amount of yeast you’ll usually find in recipes for baking white bread at home, so it rises quickly even though he says to use cold water. If your kitchen is quite warm and your water isn’t too cold it’ll probably go off like a rocket and you’ll get a good result. All of this mitigates against leaving the dough to rise slowly to enhance the flavour. The recipe uses olive oil, which is obviously not a traditional ingredient in British bloomers, and can be quite flavourful in it’s own right, so using extra salt doesn’t seem necessary to me.

So last night, in between other things, I made a loaf strictly according the Paul Hollywood method, including muscular kneading, and another by the Dan Lepard method. I really should have started the Dan Lepard loaf first, but didn’t think ahead enough to do that. Both turned out OK. The Paul Hollywood bloomer rose a lot and has a nice open soft crumb. The Dan loaf didn’t want to rise too fast, I think the kitchen was a bit cold, or maybe the packet yeast was a bit old, and in the end I had to bake it because it was getting late, it did spring quite well in the oven but didn’t get as large as the Paul Hollywood version.

I’ve had lots of people searching for the bloomer and problems and ending up on my blog so there’s a ‘trouble shooting’ page here too.

I’ll be trying the other recipes when I get the chance, in the meantime, if you want to give it go, do go ahead but go easy on the salt.

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Paul Hollywood Bloomer followed by a Dan Lepard style Bloomer


The quest for chelsea buns goes on

As I wrote over here I have been trying out chelsea bun recipes. A week or so ago I tried the Paul Hollywood recipe in the latest Great British Bake Off showstoppers book, and due to lack of attention managed to remind myself that heating milk to too high a temperature is a very bad thing when buns are involved and I may have managed to kill off the yeast so the dough didn’t rise much and was a bit tough – so no picture here and lesson learned.

This afternoon I had the chance to try again and used the technique I have for heating water to the correct temperature which was to heat one third of the milk to boiling point and then add the remainder as cold milk. There may be those that say that all milk should be scalded before baking becuase it changes the proteins and doesn’t denature the gluten. A quick glance at wikipedia reveals that pasturised milk has already been at over 70 deg C, albeit for a short time. Who knows what effect that has on the proteins and what not. Anyway, today the recipe worked and I made a batch of 12 from the recipe which suggests it does 10, and they came out pretty much as one would wish.

So what have we got here – a soft, rich dough made with milk and an egg, and a filling that includes melted butter, orange zest, light brown sugar, chopped apricots, sultanas and cranberries. They are topped off with a glaze of apricot jam and then splashed with glace icing, and here I diverged from the recipe and used some orange juice instead of water and orange zest (so there PH!). So not traditional, but very tasty and I commend them to the house.

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