Want to learn a little bit about French pastries? You are at the right page! I hope you will enjoy these little historical facts.
Macarons : Macarons began to gain fame when two Carmelite nuns, seeking asylum in Nancy (wich is located in the Lorraine region where I am from) during the French Revolution, baked and sold the macaron cookies in order to pay for their housing. These nuns became known as the “Macaron Sisters”. In these early stages, macarons were served without special flavors or fillings.
Eclairs : The word éclair is translated in French as ‘a flash of lightning’. They are named this because they will be eaten quickly – « in a flash ». Try one and you will understand !
Meringues : According to history, meringues were a favorite of the famously sweet-toothed Marie Antoinette ! Just one bite of a meringue and you will feel like a member of a royal family !
Sablés Bretons (Butter Cookies) : The Frencg word sablé means ‘sand’, which is the French term that takes the place of the English ‘breadcrumbs’ in the context of baking: at the beginning of the recipe, the baker rubs cold butter into flour and sugar to form particles of dough resembling breadcrumbs or sand.
Spéculoos (Cinnamon Cookies) : Spéculoos are traditionally baked for consumption on or just before St Nicholas’ day in the Netherland, Belgium and France (6 December) and around Christmas in Germany. Some people say the word « spéculoos » come from the latin word « species » because of the presence of cinnamon.
Hazelnut Cake : The Hazelnut cake is a speciality which comes from Creuse, in the Center part of France.
It’s thought to have originated in the fifteenth century, but wasn’t rediscovered until 1969 when the recipe was found on a piece of parchment in a monastery in Crocq. The resourceful André Lacombe, president of the « Pâtissiers de la Creuse », saw an opportunity to develop a regional speciality.
The recipe is a closely guarded secret, and known by only the 31 pastry chefs who make up Le Creusois association. They all undertake to follow the recipe faithfully and use only the finest ingredients when making it.
Gâteau Nantais: Almond/Hazelnut/Rum Cake : The Nantais cake comes from Nantes, a city in the West part of France.
This pastry is probably born in the 18th century, when the port of Nantes was enriched by the triangular trade and saw many goods from the Caribbean colonies such as cane sugar, dark rum, and vanilla; ingredients that were later used in the composition of the Nantais cake. Because of this, it is sometimes called the “traveller’s cake”.
French crêpes : The French term ‘crêpe’ derives from the Latin crispa, meaning “creases/curled”.
In France, crêpes are traditionally served on Candlemas (La Chandeleur), 2 February. This day became known in France as ” Crêpe Day”, referring to the tradition of offering crêpes.
While crêpes originate from Brittany, in the West of France, their consumption is, nowadays, widespread in France and is considered as a national dish.