We caught up with baker and celebrity chef, Paul Hollywood to hear all about his range of baking mixes.
What inspired you to develop your range of baking mixes?
I’ve written recipe books but where people slip up sometimes is that they don’t measure correctly. So I thought the only way around this was to actually come up with baking mixes which I know are good and that all the stuff that’s in there works. The obvious people to choose to work with was Premier. I came up with a load of ideas, they came back with the mixes and there was some toing and froing for quite a while until eventually we settled on the ones that we’ve got and I think they’re beautiful, and they work. I’ve given them out to friends who have given them to their kids and said ‘bake that, Paul wants to see it tomorrow’. And it’s amazing how different people got it, but actually they all turned out really well.
We’re trying to reduce the element of experimentation when people first start baking. Keep to the recipe at first and then start to play. It’s great for people starting out because it’s a great base to give you the confidence, and it’s got that artisan feel, but at the same time people can expand from that to make other things from it. And for people who have baked before, it’s just a quick thing, but they can still get that feel of baking for themselves. We’ve not taken everything out of their hands, we’ve just put a few simple ingredients that I know work with certain other ingredients, to get a great product.
Which of the mixes is your favourite?
If I’m honest it’s the White Belgian Chocolate Cookies. I absolutely love it, I’ve always enjoyed a good cookie. It’s got that characteristic fold as well, with that crispness on the outside. It just tastes so good.
And which would you suggest for beginners?
The scones mix, but to be honest any one of them would be good, they are so quick. You can just crack on with it, bake it and do it in minutes. I suppose for people at home, you can cut out the proving process by going for one of the sweet ones. The scones are quick, the brownies are quick, and the muffins, and the flapjack is unbelievable quick. So with those sorts of things you get an instant hit, you’re not waiting for the dough to prove.
Can you use the mixes in bread makers, or do you always recommend making by hand?
I haven’t got a problem with bread machines, but you could just use it as a mixer, it’s actually cheaper than buying a food mixer. If you use a bread machine like a mixer, I think they cost a third of the price. It can mix it for you then you can take it out and finish it by hand, freeform it and stick it in the oven. I haven’t tried it myself but there’s no reason why you couldn’t put it in a bread machine.
What are your favourite things to bake for Easter?
Hot cross buns. My book How To Bake has got a good recipe in it, and it’s got real fruit in it, it’s delicious. I would also say a simnel cake, I think simnel cake is fantastic. You could make your marzipan but you could just buy it. I would make the cake, buy the marzipan.
Paul Hollywood baking mixes are available now from Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Ocado, priced from £1.49 for a White Plaited Loaf mix. There are 12 mixes available, including Garlic & Herb tear n’ share, Tomato & Thyme Bloomer and Cheese & Rosemary Scones.