Baking Made Boring
If one of my friends ever sends me a phone-message picture of delicious, freshly baked focaccia bread, I will immediately delete them from my address book. The only exception would be if the loaf was shaped like a willy.
But I’m fairly sure the culprit of said smug posing, Lorraine Pascale of new BBC cookery show Baking Made Easy, would have to lie down on her immaculate sofa cushions if such baking misfortune befell her. This is after all a woman who, when making a white sauce, feels the need to reassure her viewer that she realises “it looks a bit scary.” I should point out that she’d only added flour and butter at this stage.
To be fair to her and the producers of the programme, some kind of drama was much needed- and it certainly wasn’t going to come in the form of her recommendations for using the plainest plates possible and arranging focaccia dimples and sundried tomato pastry nibbles in straight lines.
Although apparently meringue is another sensational topic bound to get us leaning forward anxiously in our chairs. “There are so many scare stories about making meringue,” Pascale says, as she courageously spreads this apparently deceptively innocuous matter out for us to gasp at and shield our children from. Maybe I missed that episode of Panorama… Or maybe Pascale should get out more and stop taking pictures on her phone of symmetrically dimpled dough.
I can see what the BBC are trying to do with this series. “Hey, don’t worry guys,” Pascale’s everywoman demeanor says. “Baking’s not as complicated and time-consuming as you might have thought. Look: simple recipes with some handy shortcuts mean that, while Delia is still crystallizing rose petals and arranging things in concentric circles, you have time for that social media thing that you young people are so crazy about.” Clearly the BBC decided that it was time to respond to complaints about there being a ridiculous number of TV personality chefs around these days. Pascale can certainly not claim to be one of these.
I realise that baking programmes are meant to give clear instructions, and I really wanted to give this new series a chance when I happened to flick to episode two last night. But it’s just so very DULL. Basically, watching someone cook is always going to be fairly tedious unless they are funny, inappropriately sexual or look like they are about to have a heart attack over perfecting their peach flambee. Baking Made Easy felt at times like watching beige food being made in realtime- and no amount of odd moving-forward, getting-cool-and-trendy-things-done music in the background could compensate. “I know it’s really tedious,” Pascale coos apologetically while making her white sauce. You got that right Lorraine.
I just think, along with boring the pants off its viewers, Baking Made Easy is also slightly misleading people. Baking is sometimes a hilariously tricky process and usually, at the very least, makes a massive mess.
What I’d like to see in the next episode is Pascale having the nervous breakdown which I can’t help feeling is hovering beneath her placid, toothy exterior, when one of her family uses the posh, expensive olive oil for deep fat frying. Or when someone replies that her bread looks shit.
Baking Made Easy is on at 20.30 on Monday nights, BBC 2. Bring some smelling salts.