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.

Attack of the beige

9 Responses to “Baking Made Boring”
  1. metal dog says:

    First we got the unwatchable Sophie Dahl, now Ms Pascale picks ups the mantle of boring cuisine. My daughter of 9 was amazed as she showed us how to make pasta bake. Do we really need to know? My son of 4 can do this.
    Tedious, banal and awful. Ms Dahl and Ms Pascale are I’m sure very pleasant individuals however their onscreen presence is at best annoying at worst…insert tirade here.

    Perhaps and here’s a huge leap of faith…….the BBC could use cooks and chefs instead of ex-models to host their cookery programmes. Makes Nigella seem like a serious culinary experience.

    Come on there’s got to better than this.

    • jennyropes says:

      I quite agree Metal Dog. Who do you like celeb chef-wise? Or do you prefer a good old-fashioned cookery book or, indeed, a good old fashioned bit of common sense and baking instinct?

  2. Helen S says:

    Completely see where you’re coming from, but I actually quite like this! She’s very no-nonsense and doesn’t faff on about how difficult a life cooking is unlike some. Plus she’s not all up herself like the increasingly-smug Nigella….as for the tedious Miss Dahl… Anyway I enjoyed reading, even if we disagree!

  3. Frankie says:

    I actually really like her because of her simple presenting style, you feel the program is more focused on the food then her. Also really like how she concentrates on bread and other savoury baking, that is often neglected in favour of cakes.

    Read my counter post here!

  4. jennyropes says:

    Ah ha! A controversial topic! How about this…I promise to have a go at one of the recipes featured on the show over the weekend (and to sit through another episode!) and see whether Pascale deivers in terms of providing simple, easy to-follow davice as promised. This could redeem her…

  5. Aha! I thought my best friend and I were the only people to be slating Pascale. Reading this made me chuckle. My biggest annoyance of the series was her constant need to make up little “anecdotes” about her “time working in Waitrose” and how after a while she got “promoted to fruit and veg”. Stick to the cowboy baking and emailing Pascale and leave out the life story. Having watched the whole series, I have to admit that I have managed to put a few recipes to good use but I could have done without the nauseating format and the constant reference to the “embarrassingly large pepper grinder”.

    On a separate note….Jenny, NUTS ADVICE! To toast my macadamia nuts, I put them in a NON-preheated fan oven switched on to 170C for 5 minutes. I don’t use oil or anything, just pop them on a baking tray. For other types of nuts my only advice is to keep setting the timer every couple of minutes and keeping an eye on them. Without setting a timer they always end up burnt, trust me! I find putting them in a non-preheated oven useful as it seems to toast them through better without just frazzling the outside.

    Hope this has been helpful and for drawing your blog to my attention. I shall be returning! x

  6. B says:

    I made Lorraine’s cherry tomato tarte tatin to have for lunch today, and was just browsing your cookie post while eating it, only to land on this post after finishing it! It tasted fine and was very easy, so recipe wise, I think she might not be doing too badly. However:
    I find her annoying. I feel that she is doing the whole Nigella-sexy-naughty-face-kneeeeding thing, except that instead of being kind of tongue in cheek and rather knowing, it’s just really…awkward?
    Like, the food has gone in the oven, and then suddenly the reading specs are on, and we’re playing some watered down family version of kinky secretary. Very confusing.
    That being said, I find the references to the “embarrassingly large pepper grinder” totally hilarious.

    • jennyropes says:

      Hee hee yes, I remember noting the pepper grinder innuendo down as ammunition! Having said this, I am very glad Lorraine Pascale’s in my life. The loving to hate her thing has turned into more just loving her for the hilarity of her posed yummy/naughty mummy lifestyle.

      Glad the tarte tatin was good, will test out a sweet Pascale recipe and report back soon I promise…

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  1. […] response to my fellow foodie blogger Jenny who recently dubbed the program ‘Baking Made Boring’ I would like to speak in praise of Miss […]

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