The French pastry is very famous in many countries for its refinement and its multiple tastes which amuse the taste buds.
Here are some of the best-known in France, so take your apron and put you to pastry! Let’s start!
The Macaron cookie was born in Italy, introduced by the chef of Catherine de Medicis in 1533 at the time of her marriage to the Duc d'Orleans who became king of France in 1547 as Henry II. The term "macaron" has the same origin as that the word "macaroni" -- both mean "fine dough".
Only at the beginning of the 20th century did the Macaron become a "double-decker" affair. Pierre Desfontaines, the grandson of Louis Ernest Laduree (Laduree pastry and salon de the, rue Royale in Paris) had the idea to fill them with a "chocolate panache" and to stick them together.
Since then, French Macaron cookies have been nationally acclaimed in France and remain the best-selling cookie in pastry retail stores.
All the elements of the recipe are present in numerous cookbooks since, at least, the 16th century but the exact origin of the mille-feuille is unknown. The earliest mention of the name mille-feuille itself appears in 1733 in an English-language cookbook written by French chief Vincent La Chapelle. Unlike the modern cake, the 18th century, mille-feuille is served stuffed with jam and marmalade instead of cream.
In French, the first mention of the mille-feuille appears a little later, in 1749, in a cookbook by Menon.
The Religieuse – The Nun
The creation of the Religieuse dates about to round about 1856. Invented in Paris by an Italian pastry Chef by the name of Frascati. The name of the pastry was attested from 1929 but it is thought that religieuse was created in the mid-19th century.
Religieuse is a traditional French pastry meaning “nun”. Its shape made up of two choux buns as it bears look like to an obese nun in a habit.
It is made of two pâte à choux buns. The large pastry case at the bottom (the nun’s head) is topped by a smaller one (her head). Both are filled with crème pâtissière (confectioner’s custard) of coffee, chocolate or vanilla flavours. Each case is covered in a ganache of the same flavour of the pastry cream and joined with a piped buttercream, referring to a ruffle.
A Paris-Brest is a traditional French pastry named after an old bicycle race between Paris and the city of Brest in Brittany. The pastry was created in 1910 by Louis Durand, baker of Maisons-Laffitte at the request of Pierre Giffard.
Its circular shape is meant to represent the wheel of a bicycle. A Paris-Brest is essentially a choux puff ring filled with a mousseline cream flavored with hazelnut praline, the choux in this version are topped with a crunchy crumble with a sprinkle of salt flower.
The Tarte Tatin
Two French sisters, Caroline (1847-1911) and Stephanie Tatin (1838-1917), created this tart. The sisters lived in Lamotte-Beuvron, a small rural town in the Loire Valley of France. They owned and ran the hotel called l’Hotel Tatin in 1888.
One day, during the hunting season, it seems Stephanie was particularly distracted and forgot about the apples she was cooking. They went just a touch too far—nearly burnt—and caramelized in the pan. In a panic and inadvertent flash of genius, she topped the apples with short pastry and put the entire pan in the oven to bake off. As any cook knows, there’s no reason to throw out something you might be able to rescue. Stéphanie did not accept defeat. When it came out, she flipped the dessert onto a plate, and it was an immediate hit. Mistake. Invention. A classic was born.
The éclair originated during the nineteenth century in France where it was called "pain à la Duchesse" or “petite Duchesse” until 1850. The word is first attested both in English and in French in the 1860s. Some food historians speculate that eclairs were first made by Antonin Careme (1784–1833), the famous French chef.
An éclair is a delicate, individual pastry made with chou paste (choux paste, pâte à choux, cream puff pastry dough).
The dough is piped from a pastry bag in an oblong or log shape on baking pans, and baked until it is crisp and hollow inside. It is either filled from a hole made in one end, or split lengthwise and filled.
The filling is traditionally a vanilla pastry cream (crème pâtissière), or whipped cream, and usually topped with a chocolate fondant or confectioners’ glaze. Other fillings include coffee and rum flavored custard, fruit flavored fillings or chestnut purée, and the topping is usually flavored the same as the filling.
Some sources point to the first half of the 16th century when the monastery was founded by Jacquette Andron de Lansac, the wife of the Baron of Mirambeau. Other sources say this happened much later, in the 18th century. Some sources also point to their origins in Limoges. The word is said to be derived from canaulés of canaulets, bread-like cakes that were quite popular both there and in Bordeaux in the 17th century.
No theory has ever been proved. What we do know is that the modern recipe dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, and that in 1985 they were protected as a specialty of Bordeaux by a brotherhood of 88 patissiers. They believed that the recipe had been tampered with too much and therefore decided to come together as the Confrérie du Canelé de Bordeaux. As of that moment, the name of the authentic pastry has been spelled with a single ‘n’. Variations made with the addition of other ingredients or flavors are spelled with a double ‘n’. One summer in Arcachon, for example, I had a dessert of ‘cannelés’ filled with cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. The name of the dessert on the menu was ‘cannelés façon profiteroles’.
The Baba au Rhum
A rum baba or baba au rhum is a small yeast cake saturated in syrup made with hard liquor, usually rum, and sometimes filled with whipped cream or pastry cream. The history of this dessert is very nice and strange!
Stanislaw Leszczynski, the king of Poland from 1704 to 1735, was the father in law of Louis XV of France who married his daughter, Maria. That’s when they gave him the Duchy of Lorraine.
He studied and developed an important program of international cooperation and European integration, which required a lot of energy: He always needed to eat something sweet. That’s why the Lorraine chefs used to serve the “Kugelhupf”, a typical dessert of the territory, prepared with flour, butter, sugar ,eggs, raisins and yeast. But the king wasn’t very happy, he didn’t appreciate it… One day, he was very angry so he violently threw the dish with the dessert against a rum bottle, which broke it to pieces. It was like a miracle: The dessert got a really unusual consistency but almost perfect for the palate. The colour of the dough became brownish-yellow and the smell was irresistible!
What is good with the French pastry is taht we can revisit each recipe and create according to our personnality so if you want to change the taste, the size, the decoration... it's up to you!