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Your baking questions – answered!

The lovely Eric Lanlard recently held an online web chat in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Check out the transcript below for some fantastic baking tips and other questions for Eric.

If you were decorating a special cake, what decoration would you choose?

I am a great fan of edible glitter and gold leaf. It’s a glamorous touch!

Is it ok to buy pastry pre-made? I’m not talking about short crust, obviously, but the more tricky ones?

Yes absolutely – if you do have the time and are a confident baker I would suggest making your own puff pastry – but for those of you short on time buying good quality puff pastry or filo pastry is absolutely fine.

We all know you are amazing at making sweet treats, but this year we’re thinking of making something savoury for our World’s Biggest Coffee Morning. What are your favourite savoury bites?

My current favourite is fig, lardon and dolcelatte tart. I’m a big fan of savoury bakes because I don’t actually have a sweet tooth.

I have seen your gypsy tart recipe in the Little Book of Treats. Are there any tips for me to make it perfect? Also, what goes well with a gypsy tart?

A top tip is to make sure that you put the tin of condensed milk in the fridge overnight so that it is really cold. To serve, try a dollop of mascarpone cheese with grated lemon zest to cut through the sweetness. Happy baking!

Which do you prefer to use: Italian, Swiss or French meringue?

It depends on what you are making. I love Italian meringue to decorate cupcakes and desserts. For dry meringues, I prefer the French. I’ve never really been a fan of Swiss meringue.

What was the first cake you ever remember baking?

I made some chocolate éclairs aged 6 and it was a disaster!

What’s your ultimate dessert recipe book? Is there one that you use all the time that never fails?

The Roux Brothers book – On Patisserie – a lot of classic and great basic recipes.

When making basic sponge, should I use cold eggs or room temp? I have heard mixed messages.

Always have all of your ingredients at room temperature for best results.

Do you have any favourite gluten-free or vegan cake recipes or tips?

There are some delicious recipes only using ground almonds as a substitute for flour but gluten-free flours are very good these days. For vegan recipes I would suggest that you search dedicated/specialist websites or books. I hope that helps.

I have had quite a few disastrous attempts at baking macaroons. Are there any recipes you recommend using, or tips on how to get the consistency right?

A good macaroon should be a little bit chewy. It might be worth trying a different technique or recipe to improve results.

I’m baking a chocolate cake this weekend for my friend’s birthday, however I’m not the best cake decorator! Do you of know of any good decorating kits which I can use?

I love using the Silverspoon Creates range – perfect for everyday cake decorating and they are available in most supermarkets.

If you really, really wanted to impress someone, what would you bake them? What’s your most show-stopping cake?

I would bake a mini croquembouche to share – it’s a traditional French celebration cake. A tower of profiteroles filled with crème patissier. It’s very impressive.

Are there any plans for more series of Baking Mad? I really love that programme.

Not as yet but working on a bigger project – watch this space! I’m glad that you like the series.

What a tease! Please give us a clue!

My lips are sealed!

I really love your recipe in the Little Book of Treats. Why have you chosen to support Macmillan and their coffee morning this year?

I am supporting the Macmillan Coffee morning because it’s an important cause – Macmillan do an amazing job and it’s a fantastic charity and resource. Baking is a great way for people to get involved and have fun and support a very worth cause.

I’m holding a coffee morning at work this year. I love baking and am really looking forward to rustling up some treats for everyone in the office. My question for you is how do I transport all my baked goodies without ruining them?

There are some fantastic cake and cupcake carriers online – have a Google. Good luck with your coffee morning.

I wonder if you could recommend a cake I could bake especially for my Mum? She will be chief guest at my coffee morning. Mum loves fruit, if that helps.

If your mum loves fruit, I would recommend my upside-down berry cake – perfect for the end of the summer season.

Can you recommend any recipe with salted caramel in it? I’m a bit obsessed!

I would recommend my salted butter caramel mousse with mini pears – the recipe can be found in my book Home Bake.

I’m killing Google these days but no luck. Have you posted somewhere the recipe for that energy-packed apple pie you made for the wheelchair rugby club? Unfortunately the video is not available in my country so I can’t watch it again! Thanks. Croatia loves you.

That recipe for the Wheelchair Rugby Club will be on the Bakingmad.com website. It was from series 1 of Baking Mad. I love Croatia!

Does anyone know how I can get involved with the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning?

It’s great that you want to get involved – find out more on the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning site.

I’m away the weekend of the 28th September. Can I still hold a Coffee Morning? I’ve held one for the last two years, and everyone always really enjoys them!

It’s fine to hold one on a different day – thanks so much for wanting to get involved.

If you could eat any dessert in the world what would it be?

A piping hot pear tatin with crème fraiche.

My dad’s diabetic but loves cheesecake – is there any other way to make him one apart from using a sweetener instead of sugar?

I would suggest using an alternative to sugar like Truvia.

I take it that would work in other types of cakes for diabetics, too?

Yes, but it’s also worth experimenting and visit the website for recipe ideas.

What’s the most amount of cake you’ve ever baked in one day? It feels like it takes me all day to bake and ice a cake.

The most I have baked in one day was 5000 cupcakes in one day for a very glamorous event!

Are there any other events coming up where you will be sharing your expertise?

I am going to be at the Cake and Bake Show on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September, Earls Court. I hope to see you there!

How can I stop the biscuit base on an uncooked cheesecake from going soggy, before I have cut it?

I like to toast my base in a hot oven for a few minutes to enhance the flavour and to keep it crisp before putting the filling on top.

Whenever I bake cupcakes they are always crispy on the outside but soft in the middle. Do you know why that is?

It could be your oven temperature – have you checked it using an oven thermometer?

Are you doing the local hero competition again this year? I’ve got someone I’d like to nominate.

I am supporting Silver Spoon’s Local Little Hero Award in aid of Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning. We’re encourage more people to get baking and also select a little local hero to win an extra special cake baked by me and be crowned a local hero.

Eric Lanlard answers all your baking questions

Calling all Baking Mad fans!

In advance of the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning we’ve teamed up with Macmillan Cancer Support to bring you a live web chat with Eric Lanlard on Macmillan’s Online Community (www.macmillan.org.uk/onlinecommunity).

Grab your diary and add in 14th September from 12 – 1pm to join Eric who will be on hand to answer all your baking questions.

Whether you want to produce the perfect pastry, master the art of the soufflé or if you’re simply in need of some inspiration, join in and put Eric to the test.

Don’t miss the opportunity to ask all those baking questions that have been tickling your taste buds.

To find out more, or to join our online chat, please click here to visit the Macmillan online community!