I’m basically addicted to The Great British Bake Off and this is largely because of:
- my deep and passionate love for all baked things
- my abiding adoration for carbohydrates
- my never-ending devotion to puns (even the terrible, terrible puns on the show)
- my inappropriate crush on Paul Hollywood (his steely blue eyes, his take-no-shit attitude, the way he kneads bread with his sleeves rolled up…)
Because of these many things, and my desire to become an Extremely Useful Person during the Zombie Apocalypse despite my general uselessness, I bought Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake book on a trip to the UK in 2015. And now, two years later, I’m going to actually Learn How to Bake on this grand baking challenge I’ve set myself, a la Julie and Julia.
I haven’t actually counted how many recipes are in the book, but it’s very thick. VERY THICK. It’s going to be a busy year and hopefully by the end of it, I’ll be whipping up complicated bakes with Paul Hollywood confidence.
I’m also pretty sure it’s illegal to print out their recipes without permission, so I won’t be able to put them in the blog, but I will link to his recipes where possible and give the full name so you can find it in his book if you want to.
Here’s a link to the bigger version of the White Tin Loaf I made today, the Cob Loaf (I’ll be attempting this one next week).
It was actually a really fun bake, and I LOVED kneading the dough! It was extremely satisfying and quite physical. It was fascinating knowing that glutens were being stretched, yeast was activated, and the fats and salts and flours all engaging with each other between my sticky fingers.
Here are my beginner’s lessons from today’s bake:
- On a cold winter’s day, it’s better to put your dough outside, somewhere warm, to prove, instead of keeping it inside your cold kitchen.
- Use one bowl to mix everything in, and keep another one apart for the proving. This way you don’t have to clean your bowl between mixes.
- I’m not sure if there’s a better way, but I measured out 8g of salt straight onto my scale and it worked out just fine.
- Water, in a pre-heated baking tin, kept in the oven, makes your crusts lighter and crispier.
- However, it isn’t wise to pre-heat a GLASS roasting dish and then pour hot water in it. I did this and the scalding hot glass tray crackled in my hands and fell apart in the sink with a heart-stopping tinkling sound. It was quite eerie.
- A metal baking tin works a lot better than a silicone one! The bread I baked in the silicone tin came out quite flat.
- Your metal baking tin shouldn’t be washed! And a new one should be what Paul Hollywood calls “pre-seasoned” – baked with butter and flour in the oven.
- IF THE ELECTRICITY GOES OFF 10 MINUTES INTO YOUR 25 MINUTE BAKE, your bread is just not going to recover from that! Damn you, Eskom!