I’m about to make a confession that might shock some of you – despite being a massive Bake-off fan I’ve always been a tad “meh” when it comes to Paul Hollywood, despite those blue blue eyes of his. Perhaps it’s the tabloid media reports about his relationships and alleged behaviour, perhaps it’s the steely attitude in the bake-off tent, or perhaps it’s something else entirely. Don’t get me wrong, I always had absolute respect for him as a baker, I just haven’t been a fan.
Then I watched his series A Baker’s Life and I thought hmmm, maybe there’s more to this guy then I supposed there was. Then I snagged a copy of his book Bread from the “specials table” in the Apple iBooks store and began cooking from it. Now I’m watching the accompanying TV series and, well, I’m converted, I get the whole Paul Hollywood thing. That’s why this month’s Cookbook Corner is featuring Paul Hollywood’s Bread.
So far, as well as baking a classic Bloomer loaf, I’ve worked my way through the Soda Breads chapter making Stout Bread, Soda Bread, Cheddar and Rosemary Scones, and Parkin (which I’ll tell you about separately). I’ve marked the crumpets, Lardy Cakes and Ciabatta as my next recipes to try. Who knows, I might even give sourdough a try.
What’s different about this cookbook is that Paul talks you through the chemistry of baking, steps you through the processes, and makes it all really quite simple. Mix. Prove. Bake. Plus, for each bread recipe there’s an accompaniment. To go with the Stout Loaf is Salmon Pate, with the Soda Bread, Irish Rarebit, and the cheddar and rosemary scones become the cobbles on a Beef Cobbler.
You can check out a heap of the recipes here but the one I want to highlight is Biscotti – specifically Chocolate, Orange and Almond Biscotti.
Chocolate, Orange and Almond Biscotti
What you need:
- 280g plain flour
- 250g caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2-3 medium eggs, beaten
- 50g good quality dark chocolate, melted and allowed to cool a tad
- Grated zest of an orange
- 135g blanched almonds, chopped
- 50g dark chocolate chips
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
What you do with it:
- Heat your oven to 160C (or 140C if it’s a fan oven) and line a baking tray with baking paper
- Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder together in a bowl. Add the eggs, a little at a time, until you have a firm dough – I use my hands to do the mixing, but feel free to use a spoon. You don’t want a sticky dough and remember that the chocolate will make it a tad sticky, so you mightn’t need all the eggs.
- Add the melted chocolate and bring the dough together with your hands. Now add the zest, chocolate chips, almonds and vanilla and incorporate it into the dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently. Divide it in half and roll each piece into a log with a diameter of about 4cm. Place the logs on your prepared baking sheet, leaving some space between them as it will spread a little, and bake for about 30-35 minutes.
- Let the logs cool on the tray for ten minutes or so before moving them to a chopping board and cutting them into slices – about 2-3cm thick.
- Lay each slice cut side up on the baking tray and pop them back into the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through the baking time. They should be dry through to the centre and will firm up to that biscotti texture as they cool – which you allow them to do on a wire rack.