Still in catchup mode – tonight we are baking from the recipe book of Picardy. Le gateaux battu Picardie (or ‘beat cake’) is a specialty of the Somme area of France, and more specifically, Abbeville. It is basically a yeast cake, rich in butter and eggs. It is traditionally hand beaten and baked in a tall fluted metal mould that resembles a chefs hat. The end result, when baked in the correct mould, is a cake that I think most closely resembles the Italian panettone in shape and an airy brioche in texture. This cake is traditionally served either for breakfast with jam or for goûter – the almost universally observed French ‘afternoon tea’. A tradition worth adopting, I think!
So, yesterday I shared with you a little history about the introduction of this little Italian macaron to France. This morning, I woke up from dreaming about my macaron dough resting in the fridge, thinking of Amiens for an entirely different reason all together.
Amiens holds a special place in my family’s history, as it does no doubt for many others. Watching Michael Matthews race with the ANZAC armband and a painful set of broken ribs I was reminded why this part of the French countryside was so special, and what these modern day road warriors share in common with the men who have bled into the same countryside before them.
I visited Amiens in 2007 with my family. We were looking a war memorial dedicated to the 7th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment – of which my grandfather was part. In May of 1940 he was one of only 70 soldiers of an almost 600 man strong battalion who survived a major assault from Major General Rommel’s 7th Panzer Division at St Roche. His battalion fighting with courage and tenacity to defend the town of Amiens.
My grandfather survived, to be captured along with 69 others of his Battalion and spent the remainder of his war in a POW camp in Poland, before undertaking The Long March back to Germany for repatriation at the end of the war.
The town of Amiens is warmly welcoming to families of those men who put their lives on the line defending them throughout the duration of both the First and Second World Wars. The people of Amiens and its surrounds are custodians of so many of our loved ones, from all over the Commonwealth that our countries seem irrevocably linked.
It seems a small thing for me to be able to make these delectable Amiens Macarons in their honour.
Lest We Forget
So, my lesson of the day is to read your recipes ahead of time – planning is everything. Today I was to bring you a recipe harking back to the days of Catherine de Medici – the Amiens Macaron.
It is said that Catherine de Medici’s cook brought the recipe for these treats with her from Italy in 1533 when Catherine travelled from Italy to marry the Duc d’Orleans, who later went on to become the King of France (Henry III) in 1547 – long before the invention of the modern day double decker macarons we know today.
The recipe is simple – the only snag being the 6 – 8 hours resting time it requires! I am not sure as to the reason but who am I to argue with the cook of a woman sometimes described as the most powerful woman in sixteenth-century Europe!
So, while the dough rests in my fridge, put your feet up and watch Le Tour de France. Then tune back in tomorrow night to see how my Amiens Macarons turn out!
Well, like most of the Australian riders after the Stage 3 crashes I required an evening off last night to recuperate … But we are back tonight with the dish for Stage 3 – the Tarte de Cambrai.
This is one of those puddings that should not need a recipe. This is one of those dishes that your nan or your mum just used to knock up, seemingly out of thin air, and deliver still warm from the oven to the dinner table. Warm, substantial and soothingly unctuous, the Tarte de Cambrai is one dessert that will slot effortlessly into your repertoire.
Jump across to the recipe page and give it a go!
Today’s recipe showcases a traditional Flemish Yeast Dough Summer Berry Tart courtesy of and her cookbook ‘Everybody Eats Well in Belgium’. I’ve made a few adaptations – used a food processor for example – but otherwise have remained true to her traditional Flemish yeast dough.
I must admit that leaving a tart case to ‘rise’ was a new experience, but the result was a lovely, almost cakey cradle for the summer fruit and red currant glaze. Well worth the extra hour proving time, as they say the proof is in the pudding …let’s see how long this tart lasts in the office tomorrow!
Okay, so cinnamon scrolls are pretty popular with my family, so what better treat to bake this afternoon than the Dutch version – Zeeuwse Bolus.
These sweet treats are reputedly of Jewish origin and a local to the Dutch province of Zeeland in The Netherlands. They are sweet, tasty and definitely ugly in appearance – but I wont hold that against them!
Contrary to the cinnamon scrolls that I am familiar with, these treats are coated inside and out in a heady mix of cinnamon and dark brown sugar. I read in my research that the name for these treats stems from the Latin word for ball, which has since been adapted in the common vernacular to refer to ‘poo’ simply because of the way these sweet treats look. Having now baked them, I cannot beg to differ… that is exactly what they look like, but don’t let that deter you. They taste absolutely delicious!
Well, just as the last rider zooms home in the Stage 1 Time Trial (and Aussie Rohan Dennis gets ready to try on the Yellow jersey!) the Musette du Jour ‘Dish a Day’ challenge kicks off for 2015.
This year we are changing things up with a sweeter journey alongside the 2015 Tour de France – The Baking Edition.
Starting in Utrecht we’ll be baking our way through the Dutch countryside, with a brief sojourn through Belgium before heading into France – baking all the way.
Enjoy this year’s recipes – starting with Gevulde Koeken from Holland. A delicious pastry biscuit enclosing a sweet and zesty almond filling, they are a morish mouthful that will keep you going back for more.