Eric Lanlard is a Master Pâtissier with an impressive rep. A regular face on our television screens, presenting Channel 4’s Glamour Puds and appearing on the likes of The Great British Bake Off and Masterchef the Professionals, his superlative baked creations have earned him an impressive international fan base.
Ten years ago he launched Cake Boy in Battersea Reach, then a fledgling development that has since become one of London’s key riverside destinations. he has also authored eight books, including Master Cakes, Home Bake and Chocolat and Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea.
Cake Boy is famed for its innovative, elaborate afternoon teas, but it’s also become a community hub, where those who live and work in the area pop in for everything from their morning coffees to lunch and, come the weekend, breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea.
But Eric’s true passion is the on-site baking school, where those inspired by the latest endeavours of the #GBBO set can master the art of cakery.
And guess what, cake fans? Cake Boy isn’t the only place to get great bakes in the area. In fact, Eric knows a few little places that he’s willing to share…
Eric’s top 5 Places for
Cake in Wandsworth
- I love pub food and I love a good roast so on Sundays and I’ll go to The Ship, which is our neighbour, and have a sticky toffee pudding with lots of custard – a LOT of custard! They did stop serving it with custard for a while and did it with ice cream instead, so I had to have a little fight with them, but custard is now back on the menu!
- Obviously I go to Cake Boy for the best tarte au citron and the best red velvet cake as well. We’re known for our red velvet cake and red velvet cheesecake, which really is a bit of a legend in the area.
- I like to go to Boma, both the one on Wandsworth Bridge Road and also the new one in Putney, which is very, very cool. They do great desserts there, they’re very creative and that’s what I like about it – nothing is too sweet or too crazy.
- Does it have to be cake? Because Brady’s, the fish and chip place along the river from us, does the best crumble, again with custard. It’s a bit of a legend in the area, Brady’s does the best fish and chips, the BEST chips!
- The Windmill on Clapham Common does a good chocolate fondant, which is made with quality dark chocolate, it’s a very good fondant for a pub, much better than the one’s you see on MasterChef that never work! It comes with good unsweetened chocolate sauce on the side.
Eric on afternoon tea
Back to those afternoon teas – come Saturdays, Cake Boy becomes something of a destination and the kitchen goes into overdrive creating a huge selection of sweet treats. But why are we so crazy for the traditional British high tea?
‘People used to look at it as a kind of twee thing, but it’s had a massive revival,’ says Eric. ‘I think the whole baking revival has helped it out as well. The afternoon tea we do at Cake Boy is unashamedly advertised as a French afternoon tea, so you won’t get a scone and clotted cream – as much as I love them – because we wanted to do something different.
‘It’s more about beautiful petite fours and lovely finger sandwiches, croissants, specialty bread and, of course champagne, plus the best tea you can get. It’s all presented beautifully and very glamorous.
‘I like to entertain with my food. When you go for afternoon tea it’s nice to get the ‘wow factor’ – first when you see it, then when you eat it, then if you can squeeze some sort of edible perfume into it or some fun little syringes to inject, it’s exciting right until the final bite.’
Eric on The Great British Bake off
Eric tells us that programmes like GBBO lead to a surge in bookings for his baking classes – ‘People are so keen, and it’s brilliant! I guess they think, “I want to learn to do something like that”‘ – and he’s made the odd appearance on the show, but what does he think of the new format? Is he down with the programme moving to Channel 4? Is he missing Mary Berry?
‘I really love Prue Leith, I wasn’t worried at all about her taking over from Mary Berry as she’s a legend herself,’ says Eric. ‘I watched the first episode and I thought she was really, really good. She can be a little bit tough on The Great British Menu, but she was very approachable and very gentle the way she criticised on GBBO. She balanced it just right.
‘I still haven’t got my head around Noel Fielding as a presenter though, and his hair and everything, but I’m glad they kept the concept and I’m sure the presenters will grow on me!’