Just Desserts: What's Cooking with American Baking Competition's Paul Hollywood
As we gear up for the finale of the CBS reality series, "The American Baking Competition," all eyes are on Francine, Darlene and Brian - the three finalists who are about to hit the baking stratosphere as long as they impress judges Marcela Valladolid and Paul Hollywood.
We recently got the chance to chat with celebrity judge Paul Hollywood who shares the ins and outs of the competition and even discloses his favorite desserts. And we've even got one of Paul's spectacular recipes that was featured on the show last week.
Take a look...
Question: How do the American bakers differ from the ones he encountered on the UK show?
Paul: I can't help remembering how he looked when Francine presented him with the chocolate and bacon pie... and his surprise that it tasted great. The flavour combinations that they used were very different. The standard was the same and overall I was very impressed but the flavours were often those I hadn't come across together before.
Question: Have the Americans have inspired him to try different flavors in his own baking?
Paul: Yes. I was going to use bacon in a tart the other day which is something I've never done before
Question: Out of all the desserts that we've seen so far on the show, which ones have been some of his favorites?
Paul: The technical challenge of the large chocolate soufflé was incredible. As was Effie's millefeuille - really delicious
Question: What is the difference between baking powder and baking soda?
Paul: Baking powder contains baking soda combined with a packing agent
Question: Can you substitute oil for butter or margarine when baking?
Paul: Absolutely. You can use flavoured oils too to give your pastry and bread different and interest flavours. It's fun to experiment
Question: What cake do you wish for on your birthday?
Paul: A sacatorte
Question: What trends do you see emerging in the dessert world? Is it similar in the US and the UK?
Paul: I think the macaron has been and will continue to be a strong market. You can change the flavours so much that you can keep them interesting. It's the same in the US and the UK
Question: What do you feel was the most challenging aspect of the competition for the contestants?
Paul: I think that the technical challenges will always be the hardest as we are asking the bakers to make something that they potentially have never made before, which is a touch ask. We deliberately chose obscure bakes to make sure there was a genuine challenge
Question: What ingredients should a baker always have in their pantry?
Question: What is your favorite flavor?
Question: In which contestants, do you see a bit of yourself? Why?
Paul: James. He was very inventive and creative most of the time and had some great flavour combinations. Where we differ is in the execution as he messed up a few times. Practice, practice, practice is the key.
Question: What is your advice to future contestants applying to the show?
Paul: Again, it would be to practice. And to listen to advice. Don't think that you're the best when you enter and be prepared for constructive criticism.
If you think you've got what it takes to tackle a celebrity recipe, then try out the dessert the contestants attempted to master during the semi final round:
Paul Hollywood's Napoleons Courtesy The American Baking Competition
Rough Puff Pastry
250 g all purpose flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
250 g butter, room temperature
150 ml cold water
Sift the flour and salt into a large metal bowl. Roughly break the butter in small chunks, add them to the bowl and rub them in loosely to coat the butter.
Drizzle two thirds of the cold water, mixing until you have a firm rough dough adding extra water if needed. Cover dough and refrigerate for 20 mins.
Turn out onto a lightly floured board, knead gently and form into a smooth rectangle. Roll the dough in one direction only, until 3 times the width, about 20 x 50cm. Keep edges straight and even. Be careful not to overwork the dough.
Fold the top third down to the center, then the bottom third up and over that. Give the dough a quarter turn (to the left or right) and roll out again to three times the length. Fold as before, cover with cling film and chill for another 20 minutes.
Using a ruler, roll out and cut into 2.5" x 3x5" rectangles. You should have 12 pieces. You may control the rise of the puff by making small slits on top of each piece.
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
8 OZ Dark Chocolate, coarsely chopped
8 OZ Heavy Cream
4 OZ Frangelico
Heat the cream until it just starts to boil.
Pour hot cream over chopped chocolate.
Let the mixture stand for at least 10 minutes then add flavoring.
Whisk until smooth
Refrigerate until mixture firms.
Whip ganache in the stand mixer until it reaches a soft, whipped consistency and is lighter in colour.
Pipe dots onto cooled layers of pastry followed by a piped layer of whipped cream.
1 cup Powdered Sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons Water
2 oz dark chocolate
Whisk powdered sugar and water until combined.
Spread over assembled Napoleons
Melt chocolate over a double boiler
Pipe lines of chocolate on top of the water icing.
Using a toothpick pull the chocolate through the white icing.
Make sure you tune into the finale of The American Baking Competition at 9pm ET on CBS. And if you'd like to tweet along with us, just follow @BakeOnCBS #GetYourBakeOn @ChefMarcela @FoxOutdoors @HollywoodBaker and use these hashtags for the baker you want to see win it all: #TeamDarlene #TeamBrian and #TeamFrancine.