Eric Lanlard

When baking a cake, how can you avoid getting a cracked top?
When your mixture is too firm, this happens. So review your recipe and add more wet ingredients to it to allow your cake to rise more evenly.
     When the top of the cake starts to crust – usually during the first 15 minutes in the oven – use a small knife to horizontally cut through the middle of the crust. In this way, your cake will be perfectly shaped and won’t “explode” at the top.

What are the best baking trays to have?
Always look for a good brand – the cheapest ones won’t last very long. Go for something solid and buy them in different sizes. Non-stick baking trays are better options, although you must still line them with baking paper before popping them into the oven so that they last longer.

How do you jazz up a simple cake without doing too much work?
Coat it with melted chocolate or icing sugar. Then decorate it with ready-made (and edible) sugared flowers or glitter, which you can buy from supermarkets (or baking supply stores). Don’t go overboard though – just add enough so that the cake doesn’t look too plain.

Any secret tips for home bakers?
* Always sift dry ingredients
Once you open a bag of flour, cocoa powder or icing sugar, moisture will seep in. It’s important to sift the ingredients to introduce air and fluff them back up. Also, sifting helps to remove unwanted debris.

* Your hands are your best tools
Always use your hands to fold in any dry ingredients into a wet cake mixture. If you use a whisk or a spoon, you may unwittingly beat the batter too much and cause the cake to turn hard – you’ll get a biscuit instead of a fluffy sponge cake!
      To prevent over-mixing during the folding-in process, put in all your dry ingredients at the same time, not little by little. Then quickly give the batter a good mix.

Baking Secrets

Watch Eric Lanlard on Singapore TV. The French patissier is in Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard, which debuts December 16, 2013, on BBC Lifestyle (Starhub channel 432).