Thanks for the add! Gros bisous :-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Let them eat cake!

- Let them eat cake! - Marie-Antoinette once said (Although this is not historically accurate, seemingly she said - Let them eat brioche!)

The pastry industry was fast to catch on. This little motto "Mangez des gâteaux plus souvent" (Eat cake more often) is the well-estabished slogan of French pastry shops.


Will you look at this kid stuffing his face! Without the slightest remorse, they hand you out your croissant bagged in a Mangez des gâteaux plus souvent paper bag, box your Sunday after lunch treats in a Mangez plus des gâteaux plus souvent dainty cardboard box. They even had to compromise Germaine Bouret's talent in this conspiracy!

What's more, as if this was not good enough, your grand mother still insists/insisted that you should eat copious portions of the cakes she baked with love for you in her soul, simply because it was made only with "natural" ingredients. If you ask me, I think the Devil worked long hours devising this, and needless to say he does all this under the saintliest of guises. But isn’t gluttony a sin? And a cardinal one at that!
And yet French pastry chefs will stop at nothing. They even make cakes with saintly names just to make sure that you sin in the saintliest ways. Check this out

Here is a Religieuse

The religieuse is one large pastry cream-filled (most commonly chocolate or coffee cream)  profiterole topped by a smaller one, both glazed with fondant/glaze, and belted with crème Chantilly piped dots. It supposedly resembles a nun, hence the name.

Here is a Saint Honoré
The Saint Honoré is named after the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, Saint Honoré, who was bishop of Amiens in 600 AD (thank you Wiki, you'r so good to me!)

This classic French dessert is a circle of puff pastry at its base with a ring of pâte à choux piped on the outer edge. After the base is baked small cream puffs are dipped in caramelized sugar and attached side by side on top of the circle of the pâte à choux. This base is traditionally filled with crème Chiboust and finished with whipped cream using a special Saint Honoré piping tip. (A crème Chiboust is a crème pâtissière lightened with whipped cream or stiffly beaten egg white.

Here is a Jésuite


This little devil is tasty triangle of iced puff pastry, with a cream filling, in the shape of a Jesuit’s hat with its upturned points.

Here is a Visitandine


Originally made by the sisters of the Visitation Order (hence their name), these are divine little oval cakes mostly made with almond powder. Some like to eat these with a soupçon of crème anglaise (to me, but custard to you!)

Here is a Sacristain (i.e. a sexton)


I can only presume that this puff party twist  powdered with icing sugar anf ground walnuts owes its name to its rope shape, since ringing the church bells is wothint the remit of this divine vocation.

Not to mention Pets de nonne (nun’s farts, yes you read right! Somethimes, more politely called Soupirs de Nonnes (ie nun’s sighs). It is reported that this choux pastry "fritter" was created when a young nun from the abbaye of Marmoutier let out a loud foul smelling noise. Embarrassed as she was, she drop a spoon of choux pastry she happened to be holding,i nto a pan of hot oil, and thus was born this delicious treat.

Argh! To Hell or to Heavens with it! This is all far too confusing for the gourmet soul… What are we to do ? Give into temptation ? Resist and be saintlier than the saints? If the sin of gourmandise (gluttony) is a capital one, it has a rather pretty name, and I’ll be damned if someone convinces this me that I am in danger of eternal torment when I give in to the guilty pleasure of savouring a religieuse au café, even though like many other women (and maybe even men), I will regret it instantly after the last bite.

Sigh… It really goes to show that you indeed cannot have your cake and eat it. Oh wait, maybe you can be sinful AND saintly :-)

5 comments:

Becky said...

Thanks, I'm starving now!
Seriously though, I LOVE brioche and have never been able to find it here. Maybe I should try to make it.

Danièle said...

I think you need a special kind of yeast for this, however as we say in French "S/he who doesn't try doesn't get anywhere!" I am quite sure Julia Child has a good recipe for this.

catherinef said...

I doubt Marie-Antoinette even said 'let them eat brioche' given that she probably failed to notice or comprehend who 'them' was/were, the silly cow!
However, I remember the religieuses I had - hem... religiously - on Sunday for dessert when I was a kid.
Nice memory ..

Todd Winkels said...

Hi Dani, love your blog! I hope all is well.

Danièle said...

Thanks Todd, and I am looking forward to visit your blog more often :-)