Sesame Seeds Are Paul Hollywood's Go-To Topping On Savory Puff Pastries

Whether teaching us how to fold sourdough bread or encouraging us to make trifles, "The Great British Baking Show" judge Paul Hollywood is here to coax our culinary creativity and build up our confidence in the kitchen. Such is the case with Hollywood's favorite embellishment for puff pastry recipes: sesame seeds. For Hollywood, the tiny ingredient isn't just for bagels, muffins, and breads, but is the perfect sprinkle for savory pastries, too, as demonstrated on YouTube when cooking his sausage plait. Luckily, they couldn't be easier to scatter on top of an assortment of dishes. 

Hollywood instructs at-home bakers to use an egg wash to set down a sticky layer for sesame seeds to cling to. As the sesame seeds cook in the oven, their oils are released into whatever baked goods you are whipping up. The subtle nutty flavor can enhance comfort dishes like basic chicken pot pies, pastries, and beef Wellington. With a quick pinch, you will have added just the right amount of flavor and texture to your flaky puffed creations.

A simple approach to flavor

If you want to up the flavor even more, spice mixes and blends that include sesame seeds can also serve as a tasty finisher for flaky creations. Consider adding a sprinkling of homemade Za'atar spice blend to crown a batch of spinach and sun-dried tomato puffs, or reach for the Japanese condiment gomashio to top mushroom and lentil hand pies for a tasty embellishment. 

Whether you're topping sausage rolls or dessert dishes with sesame seeds, the versatile ingredient can confidently stand up in both savory and sweet recipes. The flaky, crunchy layers of golden, buttery puff pastry combined with the wonderfully nutty crunch of sesame seeds is a match made in gastronomic heaven. Plus, with a flavor that is pleasant and easy to use, you may find yourself looking for more ways to sprinkle sesame seeds into your favorite meals. Think morning bowls of sesame-topped oatmeal, garnished fillets of salmon, or after-dinner trays of rich chocolate brownies enhanced with a delicate nutty crunch.