Paul Hollywood: 'If I'm really tired, I hunt down a doughnut for the sugar rush'


My earliest food memory… My nan's mince and potatoes: it was the first time I went back for seconds of anything. Her cooking was always basic but very tasty. Dad was a baker, and we lived above the bakery, so I was always popping down to have an apple pie, or a doughnut or a custard or gypsy tart: I had a very sweet tooth, and I think that that was what got me into doing what I do now.

My store-cupboard essentials… Flour, baking powder, chocolate, instant yeast and lard, which I keep in the fridge predominantly for making Yorkshire puddings or pork pies. I also make sure I have dried mint and sesame seeds: I lived in Cyprus for six years and something I picked up from there is to cover flatbread with those two ingredients. It's very special.

My favourite cookbook… [My fellow Great British Bake Off judge] Mary Berry has some great books and I love Raymond Blanc's recipes. I also like some of the very old, historical baking books: I've got one called Baker's Handbook that was published in 1920 by the Association of Master Bakers. It's interesting because a lot of the techniques used then, such as long fermentation and slow baking, are coming back to life.

The kitchen gadget I can't live without… My KitchenAid. It's a great mixer – I've had it for about eight years. Of course, they've become incredibly popular in the past few years, partly because of the Bake Off, I think, but also because of the colour range. I've seen people paint their kitchen to go with their KitchenAid!

My culinary tip… Get digital scales because, for baking, balance scales just aren't accurate enough: it's all in the weighing up.

My favourite food shop… I use the artisan bakery website Bakery Bits [] for most of my baking stuff, and the Goods Shed farmers' market in Canterbury for other ingredients. I'm also generally impressed by the bakeries in London these days: they're so cosmopolitan, and I think the quality of their cakes and loaves can challenge anywhere in Europe, whereas it was a different story 10 or 20 years ago.

My top table… Rocksalt, which is Mark Sargeant's restaurant on the harbour in Folkestone. I eat there a lot and they source gorgeous local produce, from lobster and prawns and langoustines to Romney Marsh lamb. Also, Froggies at The Timber Batts, which is a local pub [in Bodsham, Kent]. The chef Joel does fantastic classical cooking, and his soufflés are to die for.

My guilty pleasure… You can't beat a good doughnut. It has to be a jam one with light pastry and caster sugar on the outside. If I'm really tired, I have to hunt one down, because it gives me that sugar rush to keep me going.

The strangest thing I've eaten… Honeycomb tripe. I remember I was filming for a programme called Great Food Live and a woman came on and cooked it. It was truly revolting: the texture was like eating a condom. We're not in the Middle Ages now, so we don't need to eat that.

My pet hates… Anaemic bread rolls in restaurants. I can judge a restaurant by its bread: it winds me up that a lot of places buy pre-packed ones in and don't bother putting them in the oven to crisp them up again. And you shouldn't put bread on a side-plate: it needs to be pushed back into the centre of the table.

My tipple of choice… I like a good, traditional ale; my favourite is Spitfire, which is a local Kentish brew. It's very hoppy and quite light as well.

Paul Hollywood is an artisan baker and a judge on BBC2 baking show 'The Great British Bake Off'. His latest book, 'How to Bake', is available now, published by Bloomsbury, priced £20

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