The American Baking Competition Finale – Interview and Recipe with Paul Hollywood


I can’t believe this is the finale week for The American Baking Competition.  This new show from CBS was summer’s sweetest sensation.    Marcela Valladolid, one of our favorite chefs lights up the small screen as a judge, along with UK artisan baker, Paul Hollywood, and host Jeff Foxworthy – one of the country’s most successful comedians.

Tune in to the finale this Wednesday, July 10th at 9/8c , and make sure to join the conversation on Twitter at #GetYourBakeOn to get social!  Then be sure to check out the winning recipes on the official website at>.

This week we’d like to share a Q&A with Paul Hollywood…

Question:  How do the American bakers differ from the ones he encountered on the UK show?
Paul:  I can’t help remembering how he looked when Francine presented him with the chocolate and bacon pie… and his surprise that it tasted great.  The flavour combinations that they used were very different. The standard was the same and overall I was very impressed but the flavours were often those I hadn’t come across together before.


Question: Have the Americans have inspired him to try different flavors in his own baking?
Paul:  Yes. I was going to use bacon in a tart the other day which is something I’ve never done before


Question:  Out of all the desserts that we’ve seen so far on the show, which ones have been some of his favorites?
Paul:  The technical challenge of the large chocolate soufflé was incredible. As was Effie’s millefeuille – really delicious


Question:  What cake do you wish for on your birthday?
Paul:  A sacatorte


Question:  What trends do you see emerging in the dessert world?  Is it similar in the US and the UK?
Paul:  I think the macaron has been and will continue to be a strong market. You can change the flavours so much that you can keep them interesting. It’s the same in the US and the UK


Question: In which contestants, do you see a bit of yourself? Why?
Paul:  James. He was very inventive and creative most of the time and had some great flavour combinations. Where we differ is in the execution as he messed up a few times. Practice, practice, practice is the key.



Week 4- Soft Pretzels – Perfect for summertime!


  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 ounces butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with water
  • Pretzel salt


  1. Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt, butter, yeast, flour until dough forms
  2. Knead. Place kneaded dough in an oiled bowl.
  3. Proof until dough has doubled in size. About 50 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  5. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
  6. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.
  7. Place the pretzels into the boiling water for 30 to 35 seconds each. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes.



About The American Baking Competition: Each week, The American Baking Competition will feature passionate home bakers, who were chosen from a nationwide search of amateur bakers at local casting bake-offs. They  will compete in three unique challenges – “Signature Bake,” “Technical Bake” and “Showstopper Bake.”  The contestant who out-bakes the rest is that week’s “Star Baker,” while the one whose creations fail to impress is eliminated.  The final challenge will be between the three remaining contestants, one of whom will go on to be crowned the best amateur baker in America and win the $250,000 grand prize. The winner will also be awarded a publishing contract with Simon & Schuster to publish their own cookbook with Gallery Books. 




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