Eric Lanlard: ‘People think a cake is like a stew: that you can add this or that’

My earliest food memory... Making fairy cakes or chocolate Rice Krispie cakes when I was about six or seven. My mum was a very good cook, as were most of my family, and I learnt a lot from them at a very early age.

My favourite cookbook... Paris Patisseries by Pierre Hermé (Flammarion, £24.95). Hermé was an inspiration for me when I was younger, and the book is a history of all the individual shops with recipes from them. It [conveys] the whole glamour of patisseries, which is what really attracted me to patisseries in the first place: my first thought when I was starting out was, "What's my shop going to look like?"

The kitchen gadget I can't live without... My coffee grinder. I use it for grinding spices and chocolate as well. It's great for making a really smooth ganache: you can grind the chocolate almost to a powder then add it to the hot cream without having to pre-melt it. That way, you won't burn the chocolate or kill the flavours by heating it too much.

My culinary tip... When it comes to baking, make sure you follow the recipe exactly. A lot of people go wrong because they think making a cake is like making a stew: you can add a bit of this or a bit of that or swap one ingredient with another. But really it's like chemistry.

My favourite food shop...The food hall in Le Bon Marché [department store] in Paris. It's a proper food emporium, like they used to have in the old days, and it has everything you need under one roof. The fresh vegetables are particularly amazing. It's rare to find such beautiful vegetables over here: you often wonder how long they've been sitting in the box.

My top table... Le Gavroche, for the food, service and nostalgia, as that's where I started my career. In general, though, because I was a bit spoilt in my youth and tried all the top restaurants, these days I'm much happier to go to a gastropub where there's not the stress of what to wear or booking six months in advance: The Ship in Wandsworth is brilliant. Saying that, I went to the new Heston Blumenthal, Dinner, the other day and I thought it was fantastic. I wasn't that impressed with The Fat Duck, probably because I had read so much about it that there was no sense of surprise. But I thought Dinner was great: no gimmicks or nitrogen, just fantastic food and a lovely atmosphere, with a beautiful view [of Hyde Park].

My dream dining companion... Catherine Deneuve, because she's the classic French icon, and I'm sure she's a bon viveur and loves her food. Also, Elton John, as he's so unpredictable: you always get drama with him.

My guilty pleasure... Those Heinz baked beans with pork sausages in them. Most of the time, I won't even heat them up, I'll just eat them straight from the tin.

The strangest thing I've eaten... Camel-foot soup. It was in Australia in an Asian restaurant, and it was supposed to be part of their gastronomic menu. I thought the foot would be a bit like a pig's trotter, but it was absolutely revolting.

Pet hates... Over-complicated food. I remember going to Joël Robuchon's restaurant in Las Vegas, where one dish was caviar served five ways, and thinking, "I'd rather just have a pile of caviar with blinis and sour cream."

My tipple of choice... It has to be vintage champagne; regular champagne gives me gas. I love Krug or Ruinart, and whether it's been a good or a bad day, you can find an excuse for a glass.

Eric Lanlard is a master pâtissier and owner of Cake Boy, a patisserie, cake lounge and cookery school in Battersea, south London ( 'Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard' will air on Channel 4 from tomorrow at 2.45pm. For recipes, hints and baking tips, head to

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own