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Celebrity baker Paul Hollywood is sharing three sweet recipes from his latest cookbook, Bake.
When it comes to baking, we’re going to leave fancy French patisserie-worthy treats down to the pros. But while making our own puff pastry from scratch or attempting perfect macarons may not be on our to-do list, that doesn’t mean we can’t nail some classic sweet recipes.
So who could be better to turn to when we’re in need of some baking guidance than Paul Hollywood himself? After judging 12 series of The Great British Bake Off and being an expert baker himself for decades, we can be sure he knows a thing or two about handshake-worthy recipes. And with his new book Bake, Hollywood is sharing the secrets to his self-proclaimed best-ever recipes, including everything from cakes, biscuits, cookies, breads and pizza.
And when it comes to foolproof recipes, there’s nothing like having the basics down to a fine art. This is why we’re sharing three of Hollywood’s recipes for all-time-favourite sweet bakes, sure to impress whatever the occasion.
There are few things better than a traditional Victoria sponge, and Paul’s recipe is ideal for beginners and seasoned bakers alike. As he mentions, the classic recipe features a filling of just jam, but we’ll definitely be adding lashings of buttercream to ours.
We wholeheartedly believe that those that don’t like scones simply haven’t tried them freshly baked from the oven. Paul’s recipe promises perfect results – so all that’s left to do is decide which comes first: jam or cream?
Brownies are always a good idea. Featuring the sought-after crackle top and a fudgy interior, Paul’s recipe also has the addition of milk and dark chunks burrowed inside to make the ultimate afternoon treat.
Paul says: “If you’re new to baking, this should be your very first cake. If you get it right, everything else will be easy. You can make a Victoria sandwich using the all-in-one method, where you mix everything together in a bowl at the same time, but I encourage you to cream the fats and sugar together before adding the eggs, flour and raising agent, as you’ll learn a lot about baking this way. Baking is a science. That’s why, in this recipe, we weigh the eggs first and then adjust the quantities of the other ingredients to get the perfect balance. I like to use half margarine for a lighter texture and half butter for a rich flavour. Traditionally, it’s filled with just jam, but if you’re feeling indulgent, feel free to add whipped cream or buttercream.”
Makes 8-10 slices
- 4 large eggs (in their shells)
- About 270g caster sugar
- About 270g self-raising flour
- About 135g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease the tins
- About 135g soft margarine
- 125g raspberry jam (good-quality)
- A little caster sugar, to sprinkle
Heat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C. Grease two 20cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking paper.
Weigh the eggs first (in their shells), then weigh the same quantity of sugar and flour. For the butter and the margarine, you need half the weight of the eggs.
In a large bowl, cream the butter, margarine and sugar together using an electric whisk until pale in colour and light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.
Beat the eggs together in a jug, then gradually add to the mixture, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again. Sift the flour over the surface of the mixture and gently fold in, using a large metal spoon.
Divide the mixture between the prepared tins. To ensure the cakes are exactly the same size you can weigh the cake mixture into each tin. Gently smooth the surface with the back of the spoon to level it.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes until risen, golden brown and the cakes spring back in the centre when lightly touched with a fingertip. They should be slightly shrunken away from the edges of the tin.
Leave the cakes in the tins for five minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Leave to cool completely.
When cold, sandwich the cakes together with the raspberry jam and sprinkle the top with a little caster sugar.
Paul says: “I use strong white bread flour in my scones which might seem surprising, but it’s actually a popular choice in professional kitchens because the high protein content gives the scones a real boost. This recipe is tried and tested over many years and I’ve never had any complaints. The Queen Mother even said they were the best scones she’d ever tasted! Just a couple of things to bear in mind: don’t overwork the dough, you want it nice and light, and don’t twist the cutter when you lift it off or else they won’t rise properly in the oven.”
- 500g strong white bread
- flour, plus extra to dust
- 25g baking powder
- 80g unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 medium eggs
- 250ml milk
- 80g caster sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten with
- a pinch of salt
- Icing sugar, to dust
- Jam and clotted cream
Line two baking trays with baking paper.
In a large bowl, mix the flour and baking powder together. Add the butter and rub together with your fingers for a few minutes until you have a breadcrumb-like texture.
In another bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and sugar. Add to the rubbed-in mixture and stir together until the mixture comes together and forms a ball.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over a few times to incorporate air, but do not knead it; you want to achieve a loose, soft dough.
Using a rolling pin, gently roll out to a 3cm thickness, making sure there is plenty of flour underneath to prevent sticking.
Using a scone cutter, about 6.5cm in diameter, and pressing firmly (without twisting the cutter), cut out rounds and place on the lined baking trays, leaving space in between. Brush the tops of the scones with beaten egg then place in the fridge for 20 minutes to rest.
Meanwhile, heat your oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C.
Take the scones out of the fridge and brush them again with the egg glaze.
Bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden brown.
Transfer the scones to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve with a generous helping of jam and clotted cream.
Chocolate browniesPaul says: “Even if I say it myself, these are the best brownies you’ll ever taste. Chunks of milk and dark chocolate are folded through the mix for extra richness, while the cocoa nibs scattered on top provide nuttiness and a little crunch. Perfect with a cup of tea, they’re equally delicious still slightly warm from the oven with a scoop of ice cream.”
- 225g plain chocolate (35–45% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
- 225g unsalted butter, in pieces
- 3 large eggs
- 225g caster sugar
- 75g self-raising flour
- ó tsp fine salt
- 100g dark chocolate chunks
- 100g milk chocolate chunks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp cocoa nibs
Heat your oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C. Line a 29 x 22cm brownie tin with baking paper.
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together, using a hand-held electric whisk, until pale and thickened. Add the melted chocolate and butter mix and fold in until thoroughly combined. Fold in the flour, salt, chocolate chunks and vanilla extract.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and sprinkle over the cocoa nibs. Bake for 25–30 minutes until the top is cracked and crusty. To check that it is ready, insert a skewer into the centre; as you remove it a little mixture should still stick to the skewer.
Leave the brownie to cool completely in the tin then cut into individual pieces. Store in an airtight tin.
BAKE by Paul Hollywood (£26, Bloomsbury) is out now
Photography: © Haarala Hamilton