Satiating a tent of hungry fans at Cheltenham Literature Festival yesterday, Paul Hollywood revealed that he and fellow judge Mary Berry are whipping up a festive treat: “We recently finished filming a very special Bake Off – a Christmas special.”
Hollywood also announced that he’s filming his first solo project, to be broadcast in February. “It’s about bread but I’m also cooking with bread and doing a few cakes – most of the cakes before the 1820s were made with yeast and it wasn’t until the introduction of raising agents that you got the light, fluffy cake that we prize today. I’ve been all over the country looking into the history of bread.”
The working title for the series is “Bread”. Hollywood didn’t say whether it was also a tribute to 80s sitcom Bread, which was set in his home city of Liverpool.
However, he did divulge that a lovingly kneaded loaf has long been his bake of choice – and that he suffers because of it. “[In my career] I ended up concentrating on bread because it was one of the hardest things to master. You’re harnessing an animal: yeast. When you’re manipulating and kneading the dough, it’s such a release of stress. I’m paying for it now because I’ve got big problems with my neck and carpal tunnel syndrome in both my wrists.”
Hollywood’s legion of female fans will be disappointed that his twinkling blue eyes might not be part of the mix: “When I’m kneading, I’m miles away. Most of the time, I even close my eyes and shape the loaf without looking at it. It’s a real passion of mine.”
So festival-goers were surprised to learn that the next series of The Great British Bake Off is going gluten-free: “We did do a wheat-free recipe on Bake Off this year and there’ll be a bit more of nod to that in next year’s series as well. So watch this space.”
The Great British Bake Off is on Tuesdays, BBC2, 8.00pm