Friday, 5 April 2013

Renovation project - anybody for cake?

Renovation project - anybody for cake?

when we moved to France, we were expecting to love the weather, the way of life, the new culture and all of the other standard reasons for moving to a new country, what we didn’t plan on was our new found love of cakes, don’t get me wrong, we’ve always been partial to a nice slice of cake and we had been warned about the patisseries, but hey, we never expected to find this, so I thought I may treat you to a selection of cakes, we have mentioned them enough times on here!

The cake selection is amazing, even in the tiniest village you can expect to find a boulangerie/patisserie and the selection will be overwhelming.

Our number one is the humble croissant (only in France they are not so humble) not usually considered a cake but the selection available including, chocolate, almond, fruit, glazed and custard filled means the croissant should never be relegated solely to the breakfast table, as they are a perfect after dinner treat, and a before dinner treat, a snack, a breakfast and pretty much anytime treat. The flaky pastry is made by layering the dough with butter and then folding over and over again. Certainly not a healthy choice but we are talking cakes and I don’t think it is possible to have a healthy cake (or not one that would make this list anyway!).

When bought fresh a plain croissant can be even further improved by a dollop of raspberry jam mmmm I can almost taste the melt in the mouth feather light buttery taste.

Number two is in the fresh cream selection or to be precise the Mille Feuille Chant.  This is a cake that cannot be eaten in public, well not polite public anyway. There are layers of flaky pastry (which are surprisingly hard) then a very thick layer of cream, with strawberry sauce in between, the top layer of pastry is smothered in more strawberry sauce and a big dollop of cream with a fresh strawberry. You have to use a fork to break it and then it explodes, usually all over your plate, your fingers and ends up around your mouth.
It is the most delicious cacophony of tastes and a bit of each in one go will have your senses exploding, the sweet fruit mixed with the cool cream surrounded by flaky pastry, the experience does not look pleasant but the taste is so divine you don’t care, no really, YOU DON’T CARE!, all you can think of is the next bite mmmmmm........

Number three is the Paris Brest this is a praline choice made of choux pastry, which looks lovely and light but when you take a bite the texture becomes much more gooey, it is very reminiscent of a meringue.
As it is not unhealthy enough yet, the choux pastry is sliced in half and whipped cream is added, again with a praline flavour, the finished cake is then covered in sliced almonds.
The shape is round with a hole in the middle and apparently the reason for this and the name is because it was devised by a pastry chef for the first Paris to Brest to Paris cycle race, and the shape was to resemble a bicycle wheel. I am not too sure how true this is but I am glad it was invented.
The Paris Brest is very sickly, but not enough to stop you eating it, though I have yet to meet man, mouse or monster that could manage two! And I couldn’t imagine cycling after one, you really do need to just lie back and digest.

Number four is Kouign Amman this is a traditional Breton cake and is again made with lots of butter and sugar. This cake can be bought cold and we even found one shop that sold over 20 varieties including chocolate, almond and pistachio, we bought and tried five different ones (and yes there were five of us) each more delicious and mouth-watering than the last.

But the best way to eat this cake is warm, as this results in the sugar on the top becoming caramelised giving a crunchy outside layer hiding the buttery soft inside, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you will understand the term died and gone to heaven!

There is a warning to go with this cake and that is, it does stick to your teeth, the only example I can give is when you were kids and gave the dog a chewy sweet and he used to sit trying to lick it off the top of his mouth, you may look similar, but again it is worth it!

Number five is the famous French Macaron, this is not to be mixed with the general idea of a macaroon which is usually a ball of gooey coconut, no this is much more sophisticated.

A French Macaron comes in what appears to be limitless flavours and colours, some maybe a bit off putting such as bright green or purple, but if the colour doesn’t bother you then you are in store for a treat. The macron is two small rounds with a cream inside, they should not be chunky and the cream is either as thick as the outside layer or smaller, never more cream than the outside layer.

Now the French Macaron is quite different to the other entries on this page, it is small, it is easy to eat, and it does not explode other than on your taste buds, and when that happens you just want another, but luckily these are so small and delicate you can have two or even more, it is almost like the going to a sweet buffet and trying a bite size portion of everything that is good in life!

There are many more cakes that deserve a mention such as the chocolate variety, the cream variety as favoured by my daughter, the just plain messy types as favoured by my partner and the tarts.

But as I am now drooling as I write I am going to leave it here, but I may now consider trying to find a job reviewing cakes for any patisserie, any patisserie at all, can you hear me, I’m not that fussy, I’ll even work for free............


  1. I can relate to this as we have a Boulangerie/patisserie and they make the most delicious cakes, I will never be slim so why try

    1. Ha Ha Ha Roz, I can totally relate to that comment, but we have a couple of weeks in the sun this summer so I need to get beach fit, we are trying to limit ourselves, not very well though lol