Lorraine Pascale webchat
Lorraine Pascale joined us in September 2012 to discuss her latest book, Fast, Fresh and Easy Food.
She answered questions about her upbringing, her love of food and her workout regime, and she even found time to solve a few Mumsnetter recipe conundrums.
Lorraine started her career on the catwalk, achieving a number of firsts as a black British model, including appearing on the cover of American magazine, Elle.
She later turned her hand to cooking, managed to win an exclusive baking contract with Selfridges and, subsequently, opened her own bakery, Ella's Bakehouse.
She's now known for her BBC Two show, Baking Made Easy.
Gazzalw: Where did you develop your love of cooking and at what stage in your career, and why, did you decide to pursue it?
HappyOrchid: I love the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Zebra cake, but we made it in a 7" cake tin and it took a lot longer to cook through, leaving overdone edges, also the centre rose created almost a two-tier cake. Any recommendations to prevent this?
Lorraine: The recipe in the book is correct. When I am doing the show they have my book and they weigh up the ingredients and give them to me, so I can focus on presenting. I believe that I was given the wrong quantities on the show and may have then said incorrect weights.
The BBC have since said they will change the recipe on the iPlayer so people can cook the cake correctly. But I will ask them to put the recipe on the BBC website too so it can be made correctly. I am sorry this has wasted your time.
Poster: I have a fussy eater of a toddler so I am trying my hand at low or no-sugar baking. I have successfully used mashed banana and apple juice in one recipe, but beyond that I am clueless. Internet searches tend to bring up sugar substitutes. Is there was anything particular you would recommend trying?
Lorraine: I have done some low sugar baking and I do find that apple sauce/juice is the best thing. I really would like to spend more time experimenting with this, as it is an area which seems to hold a lot of interest for people. Sugar substitutes are not so nice, I will keep on the look and post any findings on my website.
Nicnak01: My family have really dented my confidence about cooking. The only cooked meal I make now is a Sunday roast and the rest is oven food. Any tips on fussy eaters?
Lorraine: I have had this problem with some family members before. I empathise. I made a list of food which they did like and then adapted recipes to fit them. That way everyone was happy and I was happy at the end of cooking the meal. I hope this helps.
Metrobaby: From your books, what is your favourite recipe? Do you find that as you are such a good cook, your friends are nervous inviting you over for lunch or dinner?
Lorraine: Sweet and sour pork balls with crunchy peanut rice I love! My friends never ask me around for dinner, they always ask me out for dinner in a restaurant.
Frontpaw: I'd love to see more 'healthy' cooking on your show. I love the food you do, but find it a bit heavy on the salt and fats (except the sweets, which look gorgeous). Why do you use so much salt? I never do (I use Tuscan recipes where they don't use it).
Lorraine: I use a little bit of salt in my cooking, not so much I feel. Salt is something we should definitely watch and not eat too much of, but if there are not too many processed foods in the diet (which do contain lots of salt) then a little pinch of salt added when cooking the evening meal should be fine.
I must study more Tuscan cooking and see how they do it. I also think the food in Italy and the produce is so much better and tastier and so people do not need to use so much food when the produce is better quality.
Willemdefoeismine: Has your daughter been inspired by your cooking achievements, and would you consider doing a book aimed at children?
Lorraine: I have thought about doing a book for children. My daughter who is now 15 has become a great cook and a cookery book for younger children could be a really nice idea. However, I do have lots of children who follow the books I have now, I really try to be accessible to all ages.
Lorraine: I grow tomatoes and red peppers, and some little chillies also. I am not a great gardener though and my dad comes and helps me on my little terrace often. I do, however, have lots of herbs which are so, so easy to grow and it is great to just go and grab them from the pots and cook with them. So fresh!
VenetiaLanyon: I don't have any of your books yet but was going to request one for Xmas. Which one should I start with?
Lorraine: I would start with the current book Fast, Fresh and Easy Food. Lots of everyday easy recipes and some seriously yummy bakes.
MarianForrester: My daughter loves your show and books - in fact, she has been inspired to bake because of them. This is great as she struggles at school and is very happy to have something she's really good at. Did you like school and when did you discover your talent for cooking?
Lorraine: That is such a good thing to hear. I bake with my daughter, which I find really helps to bond us on the weekend. I did not like school so much and I preferred the non-academic subjects. Home Economics was my favourite. I did not discover my talent for baking until I was in my early 30s and I fell in love with it. I find it incredibly soothing and therapeutic. I hope your daughter continues to thrive with her baking and I'm really pleased she enjoys the books.
Ploom: I don't live in the UK so can't get self-raising flour. If a recipe asks for 200g SR flour should I use 200g plain flour plus how many tsps of baking powder? Or should I add 190g or 195g of plain flour then however many tsps of baking powder to make it up to 200g?
Lorraine: For every 100g of plain flour, use 5g of baking powder.
LottieJenkins: Do you think the quality of the flour matters? I always buy value-type flours and have never had a problem with them.
Lorraine: I think you should you buy the most expensive flour you can afford... but to be honest when making a cake at home most flour is OK. In my bakery we buy slightly more expensive flour, but that is because we buy it in bulk.
Lorraine: Nigella, and of course the Hairy Bikers.
JockSprockPooPongMcPlop: If you had to choose only one cake to eat for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Lorraine: It would have to be my 'I don't give a damn cake', which was in my first book, Baking Made Easy. It is so moist and chocolatey that I just want to dive in it!
TheBlackShiksa: I love your cigarello cake, I made one and it was fab BUT cigarellos are so expensive, what would you use as an alternative?
Lorraine: They are expensive but you can use the Matchmakers chocolate sticks.
strangerwithmyface: In light of that horribly racist tweet you were sent last year, do you think more should be done to police Twitter, or is that just the price of free speech? Also, was it strange going back to the classroom (TVU) as a mature student and did your fellow students know who you were?
Lorraine: I think that the police do what they can. Sadly, that person was in the US so there was nothing that they could do. But there is a lot to be said for freedom of speech also. When I went back to school it was just before I was on TV and I did not tell anyone what I was up to!
blackcatsdancing: I love your desserts, they always look so impressive and easy to do. I also wonder how many white T-shirts you must have on standby. I am interested in the modelling-cooking link. What do you think about modelling? Would you be happy if your daughter wanted to be a model?
Lorraine: I wear about six T-shirts a day! I definitely do not want my daughter to go in to modelling. I think that there are so many things one can do these days, especially for her as she is so intelligent. I was always into food when I was modelling. Probably a bit too much. It was hard to stay a size 8.
TheBlackShiksa: What was it like growing up a black child in a white family? Did you experience any racism? What about self-identity and race? And seemingly small but baggage-laden things like dealing with hair etc?
Lorraine: I am asked this a lot and as for me I did not know any different. I knew that I was different but it took a long time for me to see how, bizarrely. Dealing with the hair was a problem for my white parents. My 'fro was hard work!
NettOlympicSuperstar: What will you be cooking for Christmas dinner this year?
Lorraine: Christmas is usually when I put my feet up and let me dad do the cooking.
TheBlackShiksa: I loved the BBQ episode with your dad. Did you have to bribe him with lots of baked goods?
Lorraine: My dad was so up for it. He actually asked me when I was going to be filming so he could do the show, so I did not have to bribe him. I just gave him lots of hugs to make him feel comfy.
Blackcatsdancing: I'm really impressed with how you changed careers and have been so successful both as a model and as a cook and entrepreneur. I guess you must always have had a lot of self-confidence to just go for it. I'm a good baker but have always found Genoise cakes so hard to make. Is there anything you found very hard to master but finally succeeded at?
Lorraine: As a child I was always taught that I could do anything I put my mind to as long as I tried hard enough, so I guess that became my mantra and after a while I was pretty miserable modelling so wanted a change and also wanted to be with my daughter rather than flying around all the time.
Genoise is the most technically demanding cake there is in my opinion. Lots of folding and careful handling of the cake. Filleting fish was hard in the beginning but I got there in the end.
Ethelb: You are obviously very entrepreneurial as you set up a business from scratch. Do you have any tips for other women wanting to do the same? Did you make any mistakes when you started?
Lorraine: Thank you! I suppose I did not realise that it would be so hard setting up my own business. There became no such thing as 'after work' or 'weekends' as I was working all the time. There are some great websites which can help people getting started. I will post them up on the website in a few days. Mistakes I made were not asking for help when I felt like I was sinking!
TheLazyGirlBlog: How did you get yourself noticed to release your books and win your wonderful show?
Lorraine: I was studying and really wanted to start my own business. So I opened the bakery in Covent Garden and then lots of people came asking questions about this ex-model-turned-baker. Then I looked for a TV agent and was turned down by a few but finally someone took me on. We knocked on lots of doors to get noticed and then we finally made a pilot for the BBC and that is how it all started. So the best thing is to write things for websites and if you want to be on TV maybe make a few YouTube clips and get them to go viral.
shrimponastick: If you went out for a three-course meal, but could only choose two courses would you pick a) a starter and a main, or b), a main and a dessert?
Lorraine: I would actually choose the bread basket and then dessert! But from your two options, I would probably go with a main and a dessert.
ShatnersBasson: Why don't you wear an apron when you cook? I wince when I see you in your uncovered white T-shirts stirring away with gay abandon.
Lorraine: I felt very restricted in an apron and just prefer to wear T-shirts instead. We have a stack of them out the back and I change them about five times per day.
ChooChooLaverne: I just wanted to ask whether you have any ideas on how adoption could be improved in this country? I have friends who have tried to adopt and the process was extraordinarily difficult - not so much the hoops they had to jump through, but communication problems with different services etc.
Lorraine: I am working on a programme that deals with fostering at the moment. Adoption laws have shown signs of changing but they have not really yet. I am making it my mission to do something about this as I am so passionate about it. I am sorry about your friend's experience. Let's hope the changes come in soon.
ForSaletotheHighestBidder: I don't live in the UK but am hoping to make a trip to London later this year. Could you recommend your favourite markets for a wide variety of food tasting?
Lorraine: Portobello market is great as is Eat street in London's Kings Cross... lots more yummy food, too, if you have a little Google.
Dumbledoresgirl: I want to know how you stay so slim given all the goodies you bake. Obviously, youth is on your side, but do you also have a strict exercise regime that allows you to eat all you want?
Lorraine: I am 40 in a couple of months. I exercise lots. Either walking, kickboxing or weights and I do eat healthily around the cakes and other sweet stuff. If I have had an off day, I tend to try to have a good day right after. But it is really, really hard work. I suppose I do love exercise as much as I love food.
- Chat about food on Mumsnet
- See more webchats about food
- See Lorraine Pascale's recipe for Sri Lankan Chicken Curry and Lemon and Poppyseed Cake
- Buy Lorraine's new book on Amazon