Lifestyle: Humble pies are given the Hollywood treatment

Chicken & chorizo empanadas, featured in Paul Hollywood's Pies & Puds, published by Bloomsbury. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Peter Cassidy/Bloomsbury.
Chicken & chorizo empanadas, featured in Paul Hollywood's Pies & Puds, published by Bloomsbury. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Peter Cassidy/Bloomsbury.

Not content with inspiring the nation to go barmy for bread and crazy for cakes, master baker Paul Hollywood is hoping to reignite our appetite for those traditional British staples of pies and puddings, as Andy Welch reports.

“Good bake”. “Nice crumb”. “It’s over-proved”. “The gluten hasn’t developed”.

Four years ago, only expert bakers would have understood these terms.

Now, thanks to Paul Hollywood and his Great British Bake Off co-judge Mary Berry, they’ve become familiar phrases in millions of homes up and down the UK.

And it’s not just Bake Off terminology that’s been on the rise - the show has led to a staggering revival in home baking too.

“I can’t go a day without someone coming up to me and showing me a photo on their phone of their latest loaf or cake,” says Hollywood, 47. “I love it.”

There’s no respite on Twitter either, where celebrities including Fearne Cotton and Sarah Millican have taken to sending the famous baker pictures of their bakes, or asking for tips.

The fourth series of Bake Off ended recently with 31-year-old Frances Quinn’s surprise victory, and once again supermarkets reported increased sales of baking ingredients and cake-making tools along the way.

“Where’s my share?” jokes Hollywood. “I haven’t got any money out of it.”

That, of course, isn’t quite true.

The chef, who was born in Cheshire and is taking a live baking show on a tour of the UK next April, is now synonymous with baking.

His Bread series and accompanying book were huge hits earlier this year and he’s never been more in demand.

Just two weeks after filming finished for Bake Off, he went straight to work on his latest offering, Pies & Puds. There’s a book out now and a TV series will follow.

“It’s hard fitting it all in,” he says. “There’s always something, but it’s good to have loads going on, especially when it’s all so much fun to work on.

“There are thousands of recipes out there, and it’s just about being able to pick the right ones, harness the right ideas, and put them in a great package for people to try themselves.”

There’s no shortage of mouth-watering recipes in Pies & Puds.

In the same way Bread introduced novices to basic techniques and walked them through more advanced methods, Pies & Puds includes basics like sausage rolls and quickly moves on to slightly more challenging tasks.

These include pasties, bread and butter pudding made with croissants and cherries, and various types of pastry, from cheat’s puff pastry, rough puff and beyond.

The book is, as Hollywood says, like a cookery course, and one of his favourite recipes is his take on a classic.

“I do a beef and ale pie, but use water buffalo instead of regular beef, and I must say the pie is absolutely gorgeous.

“Throughout the book I’ve twisted things, added new flavours, modernised classics and come up with a load of recipes that are beautiful to eat. It’s about comfort food, really, and I’m celebrating what Britain’s good at - pies, puddings and pastries.

“Real autumn food too, so it’s also perfect for the season.”

An accompanying BBC series will see Hollywood travelling to Edinburgh to catch game and visiting a Boer goat farm in Lancashire - both becoming filling for his pies.

There’s also a nod to his Merseyside roots, with his take on the classic Scouse.

His mum used to make a mean Scouse, he says, so he’s taken the recipe and used it as a filling in a pie.

The series will also feature a number of guests.

“It’s set in a kitchen and I’ve got guests in with me baking,” says Hollywood.

“Food heroes, people like that, and I have a collaboration dinner where we cook and then sit down and eat what we’ve made.

It’s not as formatted as other shows I’ve done, it’s much more relaxed.

“The main thing about everything I do is that I just love teaching.

“The idea that people are learning while watching and being inspired to try things themselves is absolutely brilliant.”