Yes, once again I am cooking alongside the Tour de France however this time for something different, I am cooking in spirit of Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat.
FWDGF hit our shelves in 2005 and presented us with an inspiring view on the French paradox of eating for pleasure without blowing your waistline. I am intrigued to try out Mireille’s philosophy…
But! Before you worry that this will be a diet version of Musette, do not despair. My first recipe for Stage 1 is drawn from Mireille’s FWDGF Cookbook (which I can highly recommend) and it suitably addresses my deepest darkest fear … how you can you eat for pelasure without eating chocolate?!
Okay, so I am running a bit behind this race – I’ve been dropped by the peloton but as we head into the mountains perhaps I’ll be able to make up some ground … maybe.
Anyway, tonight I am back tracking to Stage 8 in Renne with a traditional treat from the bakers of Brittany, the Kouign Amann. Yep – I tried to make a laminated pastry (like a croissant) and I think I succeeded. They are flakey and taste delicious. So now you know, if I can do it, so can you! Click the link, check out the recipe and have a go yourself!
Tonight, we are showcasing the best of Normandy with an authentic French dessert made from Apples, Calvados, butter, cream and eggs. It is an absolutely delicious dessert that reminds me how the French enjoy a little of everything with an easy notion of restraint. This is a fabulous dessert, easy to make, delicious to eat, but devastatingly rich. Go easy, enjoy a little and love it a lot!
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.
Today’s recipe showcases a traditional Flemish Yeast Dough Summer Berry Tart courtesy of Ruth Van Waerebeek 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!
Zeeuwse Bolus – don’t judge the book by its cover!
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 absolutelydelicious!