Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sick days and Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard Review

Today I'm posting later than planned. I had intended to give a delicious batch of health banana walnut muffins but they will have to wait as I have been out sick from life, so instead of making muffins yesterday I just slept. Today I spent the day on the couch catching up on tv shows on 4od. In particular I watched every episode (so far) of Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard. The only difficult question was whether or not to review it.
It would seem like an obvious choice to review a show about baking on a blog about baking, but what if you offended someone. Obviously the likelihood of anyone involved with the show seeing this is slim to non but it's important to remember that what you post online stays there indefinitely. Having said that I measured my thoughts and decided that I felt my comments were fair and not intended to insult but merely challenge.
The series follows the life of professional pastry chef Eric Lanlard as he bakes, makes displays of pastries for a variety of clients and works with amatuer bakers to teach themhow to improve their baking.
Firstly it goes without saying that Eric Lanlard is an unbelievably talented patissier. He also appears to a genuinely lovely guy. His approach to teaching and judging other people's work appears to be serious but at a reachable level for everyday bakers. I have to say that even though he was baking complicated recipes I felt that just watching it I could apply his techniques at home and I definitely learned a few little tricks that I will apply in other recipes. I thoroughly enjoy the typically french way that he brings elegance to all his recipes and adds flare to even the simplest cupcake or tart. There is no question that his recipes are decadent but he makes delicious looking healthy muffins as well.

However as a television show I feel that Baking Mad lacks focus. One might say that the hint is there in the title but I feel that the editors over in chanel 4 have a lot to answer for. These are experienced television producers we are talking about but the programme feels like something designed for the ADHD generation. There is far too much going on, in one show alone he will make two different recipes at different times then be talking about making cakes for an art exhibition and we're meeting three budding bakers from Kent and learning their life-stories and then we're back to the art show-house and then we're watching the budding bakers getting shown how to make pastry and all in all it just lacks focus.  In the second series they changed the format even further and have Eric judging some kind of one episode great british bake off kinda thing. It's just too muddled.
I have said before that I am a big fan of the food network and as such I could easily see Eric Lanlard host several different shows; one where we follow the projects and day to day dealings in his bakeries, one traditional baking show and another where he judges contestants and teaches them in a masterclass set up. This has been done with many a chef on the food network and has worked well in my humble opinion. Baking Mad, however, is trying to mash all these shows together and the result is like eating in an overly modern sophisticated restaurant when you are hungry; you're getting a teaspoon of each section when you could easily have a plateful and it leaves you feeling thoroughly unsatisfied.
Having said this I did watch every episode and I enjoyed them for the baking, not the format. So I would recommend that anyone have a look at this show (it's free on 4od) and if by any chance the producers happen to come upon this little blog please re-think the way the show is put together. On a happier not look what Eric Lanlard's inspiration did for my Ooey Gooey Stick Chewy.

Ooey Gooey Sticky Chewy (or Rocky Road Bars to everyone else)

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