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Parisian picks, yogurt cake and chocolate meringue gâteau

In her new pâtisserie cookbook, Gâteau – The Stunning Simplicity of French Desserts, award–profitable American meals author, Aleksandra Crapanzano, explores how Parisians store and bake. Right here she presents baking perception and suggestions in addition to two nice recipes.

I’ve written a dessert column for the Wall Road Journal for near a dozen years, and so it’s no surprise, I suppose, that I need each to debunk the good delusion that Parisians return dwelling after work and whip up a batch of impossibly Delicate macarons or, say, layer a millefeuille, and likewise to shine a highlight on the brilliance of French dwelling baking as a result of the classics are, in actual fact, sensible.

Most of the recipes on this guide date again, in some kind or one other, tons of of years, some even to the Center Ages.

They’ve stood the check of time as a result of they’re inratable – foolproof.

French are much less wowed by novelty

Each time I return to France, one of many issues that instantly calms me in some inexplicably profound manner is the immediacy of the French connection to their historical past.

They’re merely much less wowed by novelty and extra taken with consuming what they know and love, they usually recognize it being made effectively and with ability.

That is true all through the nation however, in Paris, there’s a playful irreverence combined in, and an ease with pivoting and altering issues up.

Paris is the place dwelling cooks and cooks alike borrow confidently from all areas of the nation and, for that matter, the world.

Outdoors Paris, France stays deeply differentiated by area

Id remains to be deeply linked to the land. And the presents of the land, area to area, are remarkably totally different – ​​from the Agen prunes grown within the Aquitaine to the walnuts of Périgord and Grenoble; from the apple orchards of Normandy to the golden mirabelle plums of the Lorraine; from the good lavender fields of Provence to the spicy piment d’Espelette of the Pyrénées.

Learn extra: MAP: A tour of France by native fruit and veggies

Practically each French individual I do know has a form of agricultural map of France imprinted on their minds.

And Paris – in drawing the younger from each nook of the nation – has, for hundreds of years, adopted the very best of those regional specialties.

Inspiration is rarely far

For sure, purchasing for meals within the French capital is taken very severely certainly. All the identical, Parisians love shortcuts.

Stroll into, say, La Grande Epicerie de Paris, the good connoisseur grocery store within the seventh arrondissement, and you will note buyers shopping for ready puff pastry and freshly floor almond flour, to not point out jars of beautiful fruit suspended in sugar syrup and tender frangipane nonetheless a contact heat from the mixer.

You’ll discover dried fruit of each selection, and orange rind crystallized, candied and dipped in chocolate.

And you’ll encounter a mess of sugars, from uncooked to rock, from the lightest of powders to the moist grittiness of a darkish Demerara. Inspiration is rarely far.

Why cake, you would possibly ask?

Though Marie Antoinette did not truly bark, “Allow them to eat cake,” the French do have a factor for desserts.

Even madeleines, financiers and bouchons are all thought-about little gâteaux, as are nut tortes, savory desserts and celebratory bûches de Noël.

Learn extra: Patissiers be careful? Normandy start-up creates 3D-printed patisserie

A French cake will, by and enormous, have much less sugar, as nuance is prized over sweetness.

A little bit of salt will bloom the flavours. A cup of yogurt would possibly add a moist backstage tang. Vanilla is used sparingly. The pure style of apples is never masked by cinnamon. And the pucker of a lemon cake shouldn’t be undermined by a thick blanket of frosting. Chocolate is most at all times darkish and bittersweet.

Gluten-free desserts abound however are hardly ever named as such. They merely mirror an appreciation for nuts, toasted and floor, in baking.

Parisians are typically avid tea drinkers. Consider Mariage-Frères, Palais des Thés and the teas of Fauchon and Hediard. Easy after-dinner infusions of verbena or mint fragrance many a cake.

Learn extra: Do you know? France has an extended historical past of tea consuming than the UK

Parisians are extremely doubtless, when baking, to succeed in for a useful bottle of Calvados, Armagnac, Cognac, eau-de-vie, Poire Williams or crème de cassis and so as to add a splash – extra to impart a depth of taste than an overt hit of booze.

Rose water and orange blossom water add delicate floral notes, as do the buds of chamomile and lavender.

The French typically macerate contemporary fruit in a little bit left over white wine to serve alongside a slice of cake, however crème fraîche is kind of de rigueur.

A cake could also be frivolously glazed or dusted with cocoa or confectioners’ sugar, however hardly ever closely iced.

These modest desserts have a timeless, understated class. No surprise they’re basic.

Gâteau au Yaourt à la Farine d’Amande (yoghurt cake)

Almond flour has been a pantry staple in Paris for so long as anybody can bear in mind. It occurs to be cheaper than it’s right here (USA) and, maybe due to the turnover, often fairly contemporary.

Within the States, it is nonetheless seen primarily as an alternative choice to flour for individuals with gluten sensitivity or for the well being acutely aware, who prefer it for its protein content material.

Almond flour gives texture and style, and it retains a cake moist, as almonds are naturally excessive in fats. It is for that reason that I take advantage of much less oil than in an all-flour yogurt cake.

Almond flour and yogurt hold the cake moist; Picture: Simon & Schuster

The draw back is that almond flour desserts do not rise fairly as excessive.

Made with equal parts of flour and almond flour, nevertheless, permits you to seize the very best of each worlds. This cake is gentle, tender and moist and lasts for days.

Just like the basic yogurt cake, it performs effectively with spices, extracts, liqueurs, syrups and floral waters. Right here I’ve added sliced ​​almonds to the highest, for crunch.


2 massive eggs, at room temperature

245g complete yogurt

200g granulated sugar

24cl vegetable, canola or grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon almond extract or 2 tablespoons darkish rum

1 teaspoon orange blossom water, non-obligatory

Zest of a lemon or orange

210g almond flour

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

1.5 teaspoons baking soda

1.5 teaspoons wonderful sea salt

125g all-purpose flour

36g sliced ​​almonds, non-obligatory


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Butter and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, or an extended French loaf pan, or line it with parchment paper.
  2. In a big mixing bowl, whisk collectively the eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, almond extract, orange blossom water and zest till easy. Add the almond flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk completely till utterly easy. Sprinkle the flour onto the batter and fold it in with a rubber spatula till no streaks of flour stay.
  3. Pour the batter into the loaf pan, then sprinkle the highest with the sliced ​​almonds, scattering them over your entire floor.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or till a knife inserted within the middle of the cake comes out clear. (In case your oven runs scorching, begin checking after 35 minutes.)

Gateau Concorde

(Concorde Chocolate Meringue and Mousse Cake)

As soon as every part is made, layer the meringue disks and ganache then refrigerate for not less than 6 hours; Picture: Simon & Schuster

Chocolate meringue disks


6 massive egg whites, at room temperature

¼ teaspoon cream of tartare

Pinch of salt

200g granulated sugar

50g almond flour

25g unsweetened

Dutch processed cocoa


  1. Put two oven racks equidistant from the highest and backside of the oven and preheat the oven to 225F (110C). Line two 18 x 13-inch baking sheets with parchment paper. Hint three 8-inch circles on the parchment not less than 3 inches aside. Two circles might be on one sheet and the third on the opposite. Flip the parchment ink facet down, then liberally butter the highest facet.
  2. In a stand mixer or utilizing handheld electrical beaters, mix the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt and beat on medium velocity till wonderful bubbles kind. Improve the velocity to medium-high and whip till smooth peaks kind. With the mixer working, regularly add the sugar and whip till the meringue is stiff and glossy, however not dry – for one more 2–3 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, combine collectively the almond flour and cocoa powder. Sprinkle half of the combination over the egg whites and, utilizing a rubber spatula, fold to combine. Repeat with the remainder of the cocoa combination, folding simply till mixed. Scrape the underside of the bowl to catch and combine any stray streaks of almond flour.
  4. Utilizing a piping bag or a small offset spatula, fill the circles with the combination.
  5. Bake for 3-3 ½ hours, or till the meringues are agency to the contact. Flip off the oven, however do not take away the meringues. Depart them within the closed oven for not less than 6 hours and as much as 12.

Whipped Chocolate (Mousse-Like) Ganache


50cl double cream and 280 grams darkish chocolate, ie. Valrhona Caraïbe 66% cocoa


  1. Convey 20cl of the cream to a boil and instantly pour over the chocolate. Permit the chocolate to soften for a minute, then whisk to create a easy ganache. Put aside to return to room temperature. This should not take greater than about 10 minutes. If it will get too chilly, it is going to begin to solidify, which you don’t need. If that occurs, heat it up only a tiny bit—simply sufficient that it stirs simply.
  2. In a stand mixer or utilizing handheld electrical beaters, whip the remaining cream till you see smooth, however structured, peaks. Stir a 3rd of this whipped cream into the ganache to lighten it, then fold the remaining ganache into the whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Use instantly.

chocolate curls

Making chocolate curls is just too time-consuming to do at dwelling. As a substitute, I like to make use of a mandoline to chop wonderful slices of chocolate off a bar. These shards are extra, let’s consider, industrial-chic than delicate, however let’s not get treasured about it.

Use not less than 200 grams of darkish chocolate if you wish to cowl your entire cake and nonetheless enable everybody to sneak just a few shards earlier than dinner. Alternatively, mud the cake with cocoa, then confectioners’ sugar.


  1. Take 3 chocolate meringue disks
  2. Lay the chocolate meringue disks on a sheet of parchment. Cowl every with a 3rd of the ganache. Then stack them, one on high of the opposite, in your cake plate. The floor might be ganache.
  3. Scatter this with an abundance of chocolate curls or shards.
  4. Create a tented dome with aluminum foil over – however not touching – the cake and refrigerate it for not less than 6 hours and as much as two days. Let it sit at room temperature for about 20-Half-hour to permit the ganache to melt a bit earlier than bringing it to the desk.

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