Never mind. Fans, who include Fearne Cotton and Arlene Phillips, still send him pictures of their baking. I wonder how ardent these can get. Does anyone ever send photos of themselves holding the bread in the buff, as it were?
“No. At least not that I would remember,” says Hollywood, in a sort of silver-foxy, amused-but-not-surprised manner. “And I think I would remember. But I get asked to a lot of cake meetings. And open bake offs.”
For anyone out there hoping to impress Hollywood, here’s a tip. Try your hand at soufflés.
“If you can bake a soufflé, you can bake any cake on the planet. It means you understand about batter and the folding of a cake. On the other hand, if you can make a wholemeal loaf outside a tin, then you also go up a few notches. It means you understand consistency, kneading and the key thing, which is the shape of a loaf.”
Of course Hollywood, 46, who is married to Alex and has a son, Josh, was an expert on raising agents way before he was a broadcasting sensation. Apart from a brief foray into art school (where he specialised in sculpture), Hollywood has been a baking pro since he was a boy, sugaring doughnuts and rolling out the pastry on Saturday mornings and then working at Bread Winner, his father’s chain of instore bakeries in the North East.
He then became Head Baker at the Chester Grosvenor, then the Dorchester, followed by Cliveden. After which, in a sort of knight’s move career moment, he and Alex went off to Cyprus in order to teach the Cypriots how to make croissant and brioche. He was discovered when a TV crew working with Thane Prince on the island rocked up, interviewed him about bread and realised he was a natural. Then, it was a short stint on the Good Food Channel in the marvellously entitled Use Your Loaf, before arriving on The Great British Bake Off and into millions of front rooms across the nation.