9 Things We've Learned About Paul Hollywood

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Paul Hollywood

We grabbed 5 minutes with the king of baking, Paul Hollywood yesterday and learned some very interesting (albeit a bit random) things about him, from who's his harshest critic, to what we can expect from the next series of the Great British Bake Off and of course, how he makes perfect bread.

Here are 9 things we learned about the man himself...

1. His son is his harshest critic

He might have made Bake Off contestants sweat with his brutally honest comments over the years, but he too has faced his fair share of criticism over his bakes. "My son is my harshest critic," he says. "I'll go to him to taste test my bread and if he doesn't like it, he'll throw it at me." That's a step further than even Paul would take it...

2. He won't shake just any baker's hand

Some people dream of winning an Oscar, others a Grammy, but if your dream is to earn a famous Paul Hollywood handshake, then you might want to keep practising your baking at home because it takes "an exceptional bake" to earn one. Maybe one day we'll be worthy.

3. His eyes really are that piercing

No, it's not the lighting in the Bake Off tent, or the camera, or even blue contact lenses. His eyes really ARE that blue and piercing. No wonder you can see the Bake Off contestants' hands shaking - we could barely hold his gaze.

4. He used to have pie for breakfast

As a boy at his dad's bakery, "after the bread rolls, the pies would come out second around 6am, so you'd get a steak and kidney pie warm out of the oven, with some freshly baked bread to dip in it," says Paul. Pie for breakfast?! Could this possibly be so wrong that it's right...?

Maybe not for breakfast, but we do love pie. Try our steak, kidney ale and mushroom pie recipe today.

5. He's never had a fish finger sandwich

We couldn't believe it either. He might have enjoyed a baker's breakfast of sausage rolls and savoury pies, but "we just didn't have fish fingers just lying around", he says.

6. He knows the secret to baking the perfect loaf

No surprises here. "The key to a good bread roll is consistency - both the look and the taste," says Paul. "It's about getting a crunchy crust and a soft crumb every time." Probably easier said than done, especially if you've got those piercing blue eyes watching your every move.

If you fancy making your own bread rolls, give our wholemeal rolls recipe a go.

7. He sees himself as a trendsetter

When we asked him what his food trend predictions for 2016 are, he coolly responds, "we tend to set them". We're still wondering what will take his fancy next year...

8. He's a savoury kind of guy

Apparently, both Paul and the queen of baking, Mary Berry, are more partial to a savoury snack than a sweet one when they're filming Bake Off. "Whenever we have savoury bakes on the menu, both myself, Mary and the crew devour them," he says. "I wouldn't say sweet is boring, but it can get a bit samey."

9. He's looking for more tough technicals

Bake Off might be over for another year, but both Paul and Mary are already looking ahead to the next series. He let slip that both he and Mary are working on the technical challenges right now (who remembers the frosted walnut cake? Here's our coffee and walnut cake for you to try!), and though he wouldn't give too much away about them, he did tell us they are "tricky little blighters, but they taste so good". We're already getting excited at the thought of it!

Luba worked at woman&home between 2014-2017, specializing in food writing and styling. Starting out as a content writer, Luba moved up the ranks to become assistant digital food editor, bringing a creative approach to woman&home recipes. As well as heading up food content during her time at woman&home, Luba also worked on general lifestyle content.