Like any good supervillain and / or reality TV judge, Paul Hollywood is an easy target for anger. On TV’s mildest show – The Great British Bake Off – Hollywood plays the bad cop to condemn Prue Leith’s good cop, and sticks his index finger in freshly baked bread and bakes delicious Swiss rolls as cracked and dry, regardless of whether they were made lovingly by retired NHS workers who bake every Sunday morning with their grandchildren. Hollywood is the kind of judge that reality TV was made for: naughty and icy cold, with laser eyes and button-down shirts. But no matter how irritating his feedback is, both viewers and bakers can’t help it. Everyone still wants to impress Paul.
Shouting angrily on screen while Hollywood criticizes another perfectly exquisite Black Forest gate within an inch of life is one way to find catharsis. Another? To become a judge yourself. Hollywood is launched this week Bake, his first cookbook in five years and a compendium of over 80 recipes which he calls «my best recipes for classics ever». Oh? We must be judges for that.
In an attempt to put the judge to the test himself, six Eater editors with intimate experience in both eating and baking American desserts had to work on testing some of Hollywood’s most American recipes. Were they available, or were the instructions as slim as for a technical challenge? Were the ingredients sensible? Was the process accurate and the result delicious? Were there any soft bottoms, or worse, underbakes? In a nutshell, the recipes that the Eater editors originally used were from Bakeits British version, so ingredients like Bird’s Custard Powder had to be specially ordered and fine – grained caster sugar replaced with regular sugar, a more standard American ingredient.
“A good bake is a good bake no matter where it is baked,” Hollywood wrote to Eater in an email. “The globe has adopted the brownie. Cheesecake is an ancient recipe from Greece. I developed these recipes for all types of chefs and bakers, especially some who are curious about how they can transform what is ‘classic’ and expand recipes that can withstand the test of time.” Safe, secure.
But the question remains: Does Hollywood itself deserve a Hollywood handshake?
Key Lime Pai
Over email, Hollywood told me that Key lime pie was his favorite American recipe to bake. “Had it in Miami and made it with a chef there and loved it,” he wrote. This description is short, sweet and factual, just like Hollywood’s recipe for Key lime pie. The British version that I originally read called for digestive biscuits or Hobnobs, which I already had, if you can believe it, but when I got access to the American version, I was relieved to see that Hollywood knew what was what: Graham cracker crust or bust. The real message was whether he was calling for actual Key limes or just regular limes, the latter was a fairly common suggestion given limited regional access to Key Limes. What do you know? “Here I have adapted the recipe for ordinary lime,” he writes.
The thing about a Key lime pie is that pretty much anyone can bake it, which is why it is so good. You just need to whisk egg yolks with a can of sweetened condensed milk, lime juice and lime peel, and voila. You have a perfect summer dessert in a very short time. I appreciate that Hollywood’s recipe is less than seven actual steps – that’s the right number to achieve Key lime pie. And the result tasted just like Key lime pie – sour and creamy with a buttery crunch from the graham cracker crust – because of Hollywood’s demands for simplicity. But. When Hollywood asks you to “whip the heavy cream and put it in a pastry bag equipped with a 1/2-inch fluted tip,” I did this only because I envisioned being scolded by him for not does. In the future, I will do what I always do and just pour a bunch of whipped cream on top of the pie. The American way. – Dayna Evans, staff writer and Eater Philly editor
Paul Hollywood apple pie was far from my best. Of course, this may well be my fault. I cooked from a version of the recipe that used British measurements and ingredients, so it felt different from a typical American apple pie from the start. I had to make changes and adjustments. In the recipe I was working on, Hollywood asked for Braeburn apples, powdered sugar and something called custard. I swapped Braeburns with Granny Smiths, chose granulated sugar and ordered custard from Amazon, only to realize when I opened the dusty container that it was actually cornstarch.
It turned out to be a completely Americanized version of the recipe that I should have used, one that really requires corn starch. I chose the right apple variety, but found that for some reason it was not a one-to-one switch, and I used one apple less than necessary. But even if I had done everything right, I’m not convinced that this would have been a good pie, or at least not the kind of apple pie I’m used to. The crust, which included a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar, was difficult to work with. The cornstarch, sprinkled on top of the bottom crust before filling to prevent a soft bottom, was not quite what hack Hollywood promised. The recipe also asked to make an apple broth with the remaining apple peels and kernels and a cinnamon stick, which gave a significant amount of time, but in the end little taste. And that may be due to a bad apple ratio (Pink Ladies was the second variant in the game), but the resulting filling was more sour than sweet, and tasted (almost) healthy. It worked well as an ice cream spread, but for my time and money I will return to Nicole Rucker’s sour apple pie (not really sour!) From her cookbook Bounced. It is an apple pie that tastes like it should. – Monica Burton, Deputy Chairman
Mr. Hollywood’s view of what he calls an “all-American baking hero” – the blueberry muffin – is delicious and tasty and just the kind of subtly sweet thing I want for breakfast with my coffee. However, there is only one problem: It is not a muffin. The golden, blueberry-studded domes that are the result of this recipe are actually a hybrid between scones and biscuits in southern style, prepared in a muffin tin, with blueberries inside. How does this come about? Well, first he avoids oil, which is often used in American muffins, for butter – much of it – which, he claims, gives the dough more flavor. It is true! But it also makes it smaller like a muffin. Like a little muffin? The way the dough (I do not want to call this a batter) is mixed, by working the butter into the flour with your fingers and pouring the wet ingredients into a well in the middle. I ended up adding extra blueberries, a move I feel any natural-born muffin seat on this side of the pond would agree with. Still, even though it wasn’t an actual muffin, what came out of the oven was good, great even and less sweet than the American classic. Paul Hollywood invented bisconuffins, and I’m interested in that. – Lesley Suter, editor of special projects
New York Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake
I’m not the target audience for Hollywood’s version of cheesecake from New York. I live a few blocks from Junior’s, the chain that inspired Hollywood to make this recipe after he visited City Bakes series. So I can walk 15 minutes to get a slice, or I can spend most of the day baking this cake-cheesecake mashup. It starts with a sponge base (like Juniors), adds a layer of chocolate brownie dough (Hollywood additions), and then swirls into cheesecake dough (Juniors). After an hour of baking and four more in the fridge, it was fine, even with my mistakes (the water bath penetrated the tin foil that I wrapped around the pan, the top browned too much). The cheesecake was a milk mark in the taste buds and the brownie was rich as ganache, but they played surprisingly well together. Maybe it was thanks to the sponge, which remained hard airy under the wet layers. If you can while away a day in the kitchen (or you long for cheesecake from the other side of the Atlantic), behind this – just plan to share. Junior’s serves its cheesecake in mountainous slices, but I can not imagine having more than a thin piece of this super-intense rendering. – Nick Mancall-Bitel, editor
Note: A 9-inch springform pan does not fit in a 9-inch refractory form of water bath, so get a larger pan or bend a 9-inch tinfoil pan, as I did.
Admittedly, I was skeptical of the prospects for these brownies, in part because I’ve seen brownies routinely bastardized under Paul Hollywood’s own auspices. The Great British Bake Off. So I imagined that this recipe would constitute another crime, one that would involve, for example, a thick and unnecessary layer of frosting or Italian meringue. And certainly, the recipe’s headline prepared me for the worst: “Even if I say so myself,” our husband writes, presumably while wearing the trademark smile that makes him look like the Fancy Feast cat, “these are the best brownies you ever want. taste. “Oh, do you say it yourself? Quelle surprise, lose. But you know what? These are actually very good brownies. First, they are extremely chocolate-like, due to almost one kilogram of chocolate (semi-sweet, bittersweet and milk). Secondly, they are rich enough: there are two full butter sticks here, tied together with a small amount of flour, apart from a sprinkle of cocoa nibs, they reject scrapers for decoration. to buy a bag you want to use exactly one tablespoon of, and the texture contrast and flavor they contribute is insignificant.All in all, these brownies fall on the rich-but-not-ridiculous end of the spectrum: You can eat a couple without feeling that you will die.And I appreciate that they have a nice cracked top and soft, half-crumbled interior.Although these are not the absolute best brownies I have ever tasted, they are the ones I would make again, minus the nibs. – Rebecca Flint Marx, Home Editor
This is not a pie. This is a tart. It is baked in a 9-inch pie tin. You’re heard of the mix of recipes between the US and the UK, right? I was so sure Paul said he was going to use a pie tin for a pecan pie because the British don’t really have American-style pies. They make them in pie forms. I begged Dayna for the American recipe as soon as I found out. The only ingredient change was molasses for black syrup. I started reading the instructions: “Put a 23 cm (9-inch) pie tin with a loose bottom” – hm, ok. For the record, this means something: the sides of an American dessert pie are angled and it is served from a plate, while a tart is straight and served unmolded. Now you know. Does not Paul know? He must. No fan of pecan pie, I dreaded making this for several weeks. I should not have: This pecan is one of the best I have baked this year. The credit goes to the golden syrup and the black syrup in the British version of the recipe I followed; the taste here was deep and warming in a way that corn syrup just isn’t. The pastry is also a keeper: Easy to make, easy to roll and easy to finish with a clean, sharp edge, the result of baking with dough overhangs that have been trimmed off before filling and finishing. Wait until everything has cooled down and you can get a clean cut. If not, who cares? The filling is good enough to eat with a spoon; it is, after all, a pudding in a much broader British sense. It’s certainly not a pie, but since that’s the only thing wrong with this recipe – a technical detail, I think Paul deserves the victory here. Ice cream completely unnecessary. – Rachel P. Kreiter, senior copywriter