GastroGays’ Baking Lessons With Paul Hollywood

Earlier on this year we got the amazing opportunity to learn how to bake from one of the stars of one of our favourite food shows, The Great British Bake Off. An iconic TV cookery competition, whose franchise is now happily cropping up across the world. So when an opportunity cropped up to bake with Paul Hollywood – a man who is at the top of his game and one of the best in the business to learn from – we both jumped at the chance.

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We got into contact with production company Spungold TV at the beginning of this year, who were planning on filming a series of baking demonstrations starring Paul Hollywood showing amateur bakers and baking enthusiasts how to perfect their skills and pass on his prowess of the prove. We didn’t know the full details at the time, as they were still being worked out, but we had a number of telephone calls, emails and Skype interviews and then we were invited down to Tunbridge Wells to spend the day filming with Mr. Great British Bake Off himself.

At ridiculous o’clock on a chilly but bright March morning we travelled the hour or so on the train and arrived at Rosemary Shrager’s Cookery School which was the location of the filming. The digital series was being shot for Waitrose TV – the video arm of the premium British supermarket’s digital offering.

Russell James Alford, Patrick Hanlon, Paul Hollywood, Big Cake Show, Exeter, Focaccia

We met the team and then got introduced to our other co-stars, two lovely women – a couple of close-friends from the South-West – Kate Allnutt and Kim Vernon. Kate owns and operates Daisy Bakes café and bakery in Torquay and Kim is an event planner and producer.

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We spent the guts of eight hours in front of the camera being shown three different recipes with expert guidance Paul Hollywood – a classic bloomer loaf, a thyme and potato foccacia and wholemeal pitta breads. For four people who had never been in front of a camera like that before it was pretty intimidating, and because there were only five people in shot for the duration, it was hard to shy away from the camera’s eye at any time – but we all settled in quite quickly.

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The idea of these baking lesson clips with Paul Hollywood was to show how simple it is to learn straightforward recipes and then run with them yourself, plus showing the differences in how people respond to and replicate recipes. We were encouraged to ask as many questions as possible and interact, stop and even interrupt Paul in order to learn the most from the recipe.

Of course, due to time limitations and editing not all of our questions and repartee with Paul could be included, as the clips were split into three standalone episodes, each under ten minutes in length.

get baking with paul hollywood, waitrose tv, gastrogays russell

It was a fantastic experience and, though daunting and nerve-wracking, we were thrilled to be included and it’s something that we can look back on for life! We definitely took those skills Paul Hollywood taught us back home and put them straight to use, making our own version of foccacia – caramelised onion flavour – and then the wholemeal pitta breads recipe popped up in our Eurovision party food post too, inspired by Greece and filled with spinach, onion and feta.

pitta bread logo

What an exciting and amazing opportunity for us both! Paul Hollywood inspired us to bake way more often and also inspired us to keep diversifying the blog. Who knows, we may end up making our own cookery series sometime soon, watch each of the three videos below!



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