Many of our favourite desserts have made their way out of a French kitchen – cream-filled éclairs, crisp macarons and jammy tarte tatins.
In honour of Bastille Day, France’s day of national celebration, we’ve rounded up some of our fave French bakes, cakes and creams that we’re utterly thankful for.
So whether you consider yourself a masterful baker who belongs in a Parisian patisserie kitchen, or you’re more the type to pick up a croissant on your way to work in the morning, join us in saying “merci” to the French.
If you're going for that French patisserie window vibe, these elegant mini fraisiers tick all the boxes. They're easier to make than they look, and can't fail to wow dinner party guests! Inspired by the traditional French cake ('fraise' meaning 'strawberry'), our miniature versions use a crushed biscuit base, as opposed to sponge. Caramel-dipped strawberries make a mouthwatering finishing touch.
It is unknown who invented the macaron – both famous patisserie Ladurée and a baker called Claude Gerbet have staked a claim. Traditionally meringue-based and made with almonds, macarons have been flying off the shelves for decades, and we can understand why! Filled with buttercream, ganache or jam, these cookie sandwiches are irresistibly pretty, too.
Light and crisp choux pastry can be used for making everything from profiteroles and éclairs to churros and American beignets. The dough is made by melting together water and butter, which forms the foundation of the pastry before adding flour and eggs. When this goes into the oven, the water evaporates into steam which puffs up the pastry, forming the hollow, crisp coating we all know and love.
Sound too technical to master at home? Think again. Choux is surprisingly easy, especially with our handy step-by-step guide you can find here. You’ll be making cherry profiteroles and éclairs in no time.
While there are a few accounts out there of how Crêpes Suzette was named thus, our favourite has to be the version about a fourteen year old assistant waiter, who accidentally set fire to a medly of ingredients. This medly formed the syrup that would be poured over freshly-made crepes, and presented to the future King Edward VII of England. Traditionally flambéed before serving, the combination of delicate pancake and glossy orange syrup is an absolute classic.
fresh cream jewelled éclairs
Cream-filled and iced, we are super thankful for the eclair. Since you will have already mastered choux pastry with profiteroles, this recipe should be a breeze! Decorate them entirely as desired - we have opted for crunchy pistachios and pretty pink rose petals.
Named after the hotel in central France that invented the dessert, this delicious tart is actually baked upside down to make sure the sliced apples cook and caramelise in the bubbling butterscotch.
A perfect tarte Tatin should have a beautiful crisp, puff pastry base that shatters as you apply pressure with your fork, apples that are cooked through with still a little bite in the centre, and a shiny, saucy caramel to hold everything together. Serve this apple pie straight from the oven with a dollop of crème fraîche or glace à la vanille for a perfect hot-meets-cold sweet.
The French are the ultimate masters of crèmes, custards and all egg-set puddings. Originating from France’s Limousin region where it’s typically made with local sour Morello cherries, clafoutis is a baked dessert of ripe cherries set in a batter that's almost custard-like, thanks to its wobbly, egg-heavy nature. Although cherries are traditional, we love the sweet and sour flesh of plums in our version.
Mille-feuille usually consists of three layers of flaky puff pastry sandwiched together with two layers of crème pâtissière (a bit like custard) and topped with a shiny layer of white icing. There are variations aplenty though, with some subsituting one layer of custard for whipped cream, or both layers, as in this delicious raspberry mille feuille recipe topped with crumbled pistachios.