With a name like Paul Hollywood you can’t be a shrinking violet. And since the airing of The Great British Baking Show on PBS and its American spinoff, The Great American Baking Show, Hollywood has become a bona fide star in the U.S. (He’s already so famous in the U.K. that the British press is fascinated by the state of his marriage.)
It has certainly been a meteoric rise from his childhood spent in his family’s bakery in a small town in England. “Baking is in my genes,” he writes in his new book, A Baker’s Life. “When my mum came down to gel the donuts she would hang me on a baby bouncer at the bottom of the stairs by the shop. I’d bounce away for hours, watching people bake.”
For his fans, the book offers an insight into Hollywood’s deep baking roots as well as his own versions of simple and complex baked goods, including both sweet and savory items. While many of these treats could become stars of your brunch menu, I was drawn to his recipe for spicy Cheese Crackers. They’re fairly easy to whip up and are even gluten free (they only include almond and corn flours).
The cheddar crackers are delicious accompanying a seasonal egg frittata or served at a holiday cocktail party paired with Champagne and other appetizers. The best part is that you’re sure to get high marks even from the toughest food judges.
75g strong Cheddar, finely grated
50g ground Almonds
1 tbsp Corn Flour
.25 tsp Baking powder
A pinch each of celery salt, garlic salt, paprika and white pepper (less than .25 tsp of each)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
.5 tsp Runny honey
2 tsp Cold water
Put the cheese, ground almonds, corn flour, baking powder and dry seasonings into a bowl and mix together.
Add the Worcestershire sauce, honey and 1 tsp water. Squeeze and work the mixture until it comes together, adding the remaining water if required. You want the dough to be firm but malleable.
Place the dough on a large sheet of baking parchment paper on your work surface and press it out into a rectangle, of even thickness. Place another sheet of parchment on top. Roll out the dough between the parchment until it is about 16 x 27cm and 2–3mm thick. Remove the top piece of parchment and mark the dough into 14 rectangles with a knife, without cutting right through.
Lift the dough on its sheet of parchment onto a baking tray and place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 170°C.
Bake for 12–15 minutes, until the crackers are turning brown.
Take out the tray and lower the oven setting to 100°C. While the crackers are still hot, cut along the marked lines to separate them. Once the oven has cooled to the correct temperature, return the tray to the oven for 10 minutes to dry out the crackers a little.
Transfer the crackers to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
This recipe makes 14 crackers.
Extract taken from A Baker’s Life by Paul Hollywood (Bloomsbury, $36)