Thursday, February 25, 2010

Glamour Puds

I must admit that despite a deep interest in puds and a shallower interest in glamour, Glamour Puds had passed me by until this afternoon. The first series of pastry chef Eric Lanlard's Channel 4 cake show is stripped across this week at 2.55pm, with the second one scheduled to start on Monday. It has thoroughly daytime production values but has brought him a modicum of attention, and in an interview in today's Times he ponders the British fondness for style over substance in the celebration cake stakes.

Lanlard is, of course, a major proponent of that style, filling bespoke celebrity orders as well as selling handmade cakes to less well-known Londoners. His trademark dessert tower, beloved of brides who wish to give their guests a nice pudding rather than a finger of fruity misery, is much copied. He's got chops when it comes to sugarwork as well, although that's much less fashionable than whipping out a sheet of cocoa butter transfers.

The show I caught while on sofa duty, dedicated to wedding cakes, exposed the difficulties of demonstrating a real skill on telly without turning your audience off. Raymond Blanc's Kitchen Secrets has solved the problem by getting RB to call for his assistant whenever anything too involved or unsexy is required: whole chunks of the recipes are missed out, and we're directed online to finish the job. It's shameless, but then we don't expect RB to toil over stock or parfait or rouille in real life, anyway.

Lanlard's approach is slightly different and, due to the constraints of the format, a bit half-arsed. He'll show you how much hoo-ha is involved in certain aspects of preparation – before you get past first base on his mini lemon cheesecakes, you'll need moulds and acetate strips, and he's at least honest about the fact that stacked cakes require dowelling rods for structural support, and for that, of course, you also need a hacksaw – but then goes all coy about how to make decorative white chocolate fans. There's vague talk about equipment being readily available, but no advice about how, if you're going to stick marzipan to a cake with apricot jam, you need to sieve it first.

The C4 food website doesn't really succeed in filling in the gaps, so the blushing bride seeking inspiration for her wedding cake is in receipt of some seriously mixed messages. Is the dream pearl-encrusted cake achieveable? Yes, but probably only by Eric.

1 comment:

rrrich said...

I love that guy! Sky plussed it all! :)