It’s wonderful that TV shows like The Great British Bake Off have reinvigorated people’s passion for baking, but to reach the level of professional pâtissier takes hard work and training, writes Eric Lanlard
I can still remember the time when book publishers and magazine editors would tell me that ‘baking and cake-making’ was not of interest to the general public; now practically every food magazine has a front cover with a cake, and the baking section of any bookshop is by far the biggest under the food category. The Great British Bake Off came to our screens at just at the right moment.
Most people like cakes and everyone should be able to bake. You just have to follow a few simple rules. There is something slightly nostalgic about The Great British Bake Off, the set and, of course, it has that element of competition that the great British public loves to get behind.
I would say that as a result the standard is improving; it’s no longer good enough to bake a cake that looks amazing, but tastes horrid. Always bake with the best ingredients: real vanilla extract, unsalted butter and, most definitely, unrefined sugar. On the flipside, there can be a lack of understanding. I have utmost respect for the contestants of The Great British Bake Off as they take part in a brilliantly entertaining show, but that does not make a pâtissier and sometimes people do not appreciate the training and hard work that goes into being a professional. Having said that the baking world on so many levels is a very friendly place to work in and we are all very supportive of each other.
London, in particular, has become a real food capital, and so many incredible restaurants and world famous pâtissiers are now bringing their brand to the capital. Everyone appreciates a beautiful cake and now people are becoming accustomed to going out for it as they want atmosphere and bit of elegance with their experience. At my boutique Cake Boy we certainly think that cake eating should be glamorous, sexy and chic!
I have wanted to work with chocolate since I was a 10-year-old boy in my home town of Quimper, Brittany. In fact I choose to do my apprenticeship at Le Grand Patisserie in Quimper, simply because they made their own chocolates. It’s luxurious yet unpredictable and is my favourite ingredient to bake with. I made it my mission to discover the history and origins of chocolate and the techniques of its production – the whole bean to bar experience.
It’s the reason I’ve teamed up with Paradise by Way of Kensal Green in October to take over their dessert menu for a month. The venue is quirky and has a creative vibe to it – I like things that are a bit unexpected, plus Chocolate Week takes place in October and the Paradise has a reputation for putting on really well-received events. On show will be adapted recipes from my books Chocolat and Tart It Up, such as chocolate & touka bean crème brulees and West Indies chocolate tart. When I write books, I want them to be beautiful, but I want the recipes to work and for people to make them. I’m a patissier and, of course, love making exquisite and beautifully presented desserts and cakes for my shop. My books are what I do at home – rustic baking at it’s best!
Chocolat and Tart It Up by Eric Lanlard are published by Mitchell Beazley, RRP £18.99. Eric Lanlard’s chocolate dessert menu runs at Paradise from 9-31 October. Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, 19 Kilburn Lane W10 4AE; 020 8969 0098; theparadise.co.uk