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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Paul Hollywood: Making Bread So I Don't Have To

There are plenty of foods with which I cannot trust myself to behave, but bread ranks amongst the very highest. My weakness for decent dough is potentially catastrophic, and has to be kept in check through a complex balancing act of abstinence and concession; I once did the Atkins diet for two whole weeks before acknowledging it really wasn't for me, recognition coming when I fell firmly off the no-carbs wagon and rampaged around the house with half a loaf of wholemeal clamped between my rabid jaws. Now I permit myself good bread as a regular treat, and often wish I was the type of person to whip up a batch of baked goods every morning, being a firm believer in the superior scent, taste and texture of bread fresh from the oven.

Of course, one may now cheat in this regard, through the purchase of part-baked bread that can simply be thrown in the oven for ten minutes or so and then whipped out again to triumphant effect. Paul Hollywood - the silver fox of Great British Bake Off renown - has thrown his hat into this particular arena (there must be a joke in here somewhere about a bun fight) and launched his own range of part-cooked rolls bearing his name and, presumably, his seal of approval. I always wonder just how much involvement celebrities really have with the ranges they endorse, but the Paul Hollywood bread rolls are certainly very nice - I tried the whole range, which at present comprises flour-dusted wheatsheaf crusty rolls, a mixed pack of poppy and sesame seed topped rolls (3 of each) and a mixed pack of multiseed (linseed, sunflower, millet and sesame seeds), 3 blended and 3 topped, all in packs of six. These are apparently developed from Paul's own special recipes, and each uses a slow fermented starter (a blend of flour, water and yeast) which has been fermented for several hours before being added to the main dough and which apparently delivers a richer flavour. Whether this is true or not, I really cannot say - I consider myself lucky if I can find some yeast in the cupboard that has an expiry date within the last five years - but I can observe that the packaging keeps them fresh for ages and that ten minutes in the oven produces some pretty decent rolls that are crusty on the outside and soft and doughy within. As you can see, I employed my rolls for a range of sophisticated meal options, including an excellent fish finger butty and a bacon, mushroom, rocket and blue cheese birthday breakfast made by a passing boy who is now very securely in the good books.

Would I buy them again? Maybe, yes. I'd like a bit more versatility in the range - the rolls are all the same size and shape - but I think these are decent value at £1.49 a pack and are a useful thing to have knocking around in case of emergency bacon sandwich cravings, which may well have passed in the time it would take me to produce a vague equivalent. These were sent to me for review/greed purposes but are available from most major supermarkets.

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