Eric Lanlard on baking for royalty and the stars
We talk to master pâtissier Eric Lanlard about teaming up with Tesco finest* for a new cake for the Queen's 90th birthday celebrations and more.
Eric Lanlard is a French pâtissier and celebrity chef who is known for his awe-inspiring cakes. He has created cakes for the likes of Liz Hurley, Madonna, Holly Branson (Richard Branson's daughter), Amanda Holden and the Queen Mother.
His latest venture has been a collaboration with Tesco finest* to create a commemorative cake to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday.
loveFOOD spoke to him about his royal creation, his other celebrity commissions and what he's up to next.
What was your inspiration for the cake?
I was approached by Tesco to create a cake to commemorate the Queen’s birthday, and what attracted me was they wanted to keep away from novelty cakes. They wanted something celebratory but yummy and limited edition, and it's something you can share with family or friends during any street parties. The cake was in my comfort zone.
There are layers of sponge, dark and white chocolate, and prosecco piped flowers. The combination of white chocolate and pink on the outside is like the queen’s outfit or her hat. The icing dribbling from the cake we did with white chocolate as a twist; we used chocolate to keep in line with cake trends.
There were many different ideas and inspirations for the cake. We researched trends that people like, and we found so many similarities. Tesco finest* knew that everything with chocolate sells well, and I wanted the cake to fit the time of year, to work with the season. It’s a beautiful work, something that looks summery, glamorous and a bit special.
Are you happy with the final product?
I’m pleasantly surprised, instantly from the first design, how good the cake looked and tasted. It didn’t take that much coming backwards.
What has been one of your favourite cakes to create?
I’ve done many cakes, so it is quite difficult to pinpoint one that would stand alone. I'm known more for minimalism with a touch of glamour. Liz Hurley’s cake was my all-time favourite wedding cake. It was covered with lace and it was pearled, with edible mother of pearls. It was very stylish and timeless. It could have been vintage, and in 20 years' time that will all still be up to date. If I had to do another cake again I would pick that.
How does the cake you have created for the Queen’s birthday differ from the cake you created for the Queen Mother’s 101st birthday?
The Queen Mother’s birthday was more of a novelty cake, as it was her 101st birthday. There wasn’t as much pressure to create this cake, as they wanted something fun. It was a chocolate cake with raspberry filling which she had religiously. There were a couple of corgis on top of the cake, which was covered with fresh English garden roses. The top of the cake had a lot of piping, but it was quite a simple taste. I know the Queen loves a good Victoria sponge, as it is not too sugary, and the cake filling is moist.
Are the chosen flavours tailored to a specific theme? Are they known to be enjoyed by the Queen?
The cake ticks all the boxes for what I know she likes, it would be different if it was wacky, with chilli and cardamom. We tried to keep it as British as possible and I think anyone could enjoy a slice of it. We were really keen for it not to be too sweet, as she has not got a sweet tooth, and even now I don't have a sweet tooth. As the cake is limited edition you don’t need to use much sugar in it; and too much sugar is what we wanted to avoid. But I think she will like the cake.
How does the cake you created for 'queen of pop' Madonna compare to the Queen's birthday cake? Was it eccentric?
People always ask me if Madonna had a wacky cake, but she actually had a very traditional wedding, and had a very traditional wedding cake – a croquembouche. That’s why I was asked to do it, as not many people knew what it was or knew how to make one. She wanted this particular cake as she was in Paris for many years and came across the cake, and knew in her mind that one day she would have that one. She kept the cake very simple. The biggest challenge was flying the cake to Scotland.
Have you enjoyed your partnership with Tesco finest*? Was it easy to work together?
It was very easy. It was the first time I have done something like this on such a big scale. It was quite fast, as we only started 12 months ago. It’s very exciting; I’m surprised how easy it all went. Tesco finest* are a great team who all know what their customers like. Everything needed to work in the factory for it to succeed. It was nice to see the chefs getting excited about it, and to hear how much they enjoyed working on it.
Who inspired you to start baking?
My family were not into cooking or baking, not professionally anyway, but on the weekend we had good food. That’s what attracted me towards baking. Every Sunday we went to the pâtisserie to buy family cakes; the glamour behind that and the jewellery interested me, but most of my recipes were a disaster in the beginning.
I found my finished designs very rewarding, as when you turn up with cakes people are nice to you. I enjoyed making people happy.
Do you have any future projects you are looking forward to working on?
Well, I have just launched my Afternoon Tea book, which is a big thing as everyone is doing something with afternoon tea. I'm always busy, as there's always cake things going on, but I have nothing big planned right now. Book signings and promoting the book will go on for a few months.
Are there demos or classes where people can see you in action?
We have a baking school that runs classes, and there are cake demos all the time, and this will be part of the book launch. This is why I opened my own shop, as I wanted my own pâtisserie and I like contact with the public, telling stories and meeting people.
Tasting Eric's cake in the loveFOOD office
The cake really is a piece of art; the piping is beautiful and the pink roses shimmer. The layers of pink and chocolate sponge make the cake as nice inside as it is out. The prosecco in the buttercream is subtle but very much enjoyable, and the raspberry conserve is light and does not overpower the cake – the perfect addition to a summer cake.
The loveFOOD office loved the cake; it would be a welcome edition to anyone celebrating the Queen's birthday.
Eric's limited edition cake is now on sale in Tesco stores until June 16.
Eric Lanlard recipes and more
Eric Landlard's Black Forest cupcake recipe
Eric Lanlard's winter fruits and madeleines charlotte cake recipe
Eric Lanlard's perfect profiteroles recipe
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