Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Gregg Wallace: what a pudding

Gregg Wallace was to be heard giving Libby Purves plenty of sugary love on Radio 4's Midweek last Wednesday, which coincided with the thump of a new book, Gregg's Favourite Puddings, on the Hale and Hearty doormat. The baldy one is much associated with dessert, and the new collection contains 106 recipes for them, with cheery intros from the man himself.

Judging by the small print, it would be doing Gregg a kindness to describe the recipes as his. Some of the recipes in Gregg's Favourite Puddings have appeared before in other books published by Hamlyn, and since Wallace's other books are about veg and published by Mitchell Beazley (same publishing group, different imprint), I'm thinking he didn't spend hours slaving over rather housewifely recipes for strawberry crumble flan or chocolate roulade. I looked into the author absence issue for Fire & Knives recently, so I know what goes on, and I'm not entirely comfortable with it.

Nevertheless, we had friends staying, I had a new baking book, and the rest was inevitable. After a just-serviceable foray into 'his' take on the famous Portuguese custard tarts, I was looking for something more reliable from the book. On page 44, of the New York cheesecake, Gregg observes "I just can't help myself. Every time I see one I think of tall buildings and hum Gershwin." I couldn't help myself either. It's a simple recipe which uses a kilo of cream cheese and plenty of sour cream, but which is, unsettlingly, stabilised with flour. I expected its presence to be horribly obvious, but what we got was a decent texture and rich-but-clean, slightly lemony flavour. Without the involvement of a bain marie the cheesecake developed a deep three-crevasse split which looked like a T and gave Tim the right to demand the first slice. He needn't have rushed in: since the recipe serves 10, we'll be singing Gershwin every time we open the fridge.


The Ample Cook said...

This really annoys me, because it's lazy and dishonest.

This book is being sold on the strength of his fame, from being a Materchef presenter.

I've read that he doesn't even cook very much.

Sorry, hope I haven't offended you.

Douglas Blyde said...

'singing Gershwin every time we open the fridge' - fantastic image

Laura Nickoll said...

Agree with Ample Cook. It's shallow and cheap for a publisher to knock this book together, without - it seems - fairly crediting the recipe writers/authors. I'm guessing Gregg just wrote the recipe intros? I hope the writers' remuneration was sufficiently generous. Glad you got a decent pudding out of it, though.