For centuries, French pastry chefs have been honing their sweet skills in the kitchen. We have dozens of delicious desserts and sweet treats to thank the French for, from rich and creamy crème caramel to thick and crunchy, well, caramel.
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 by checking out our absolute favourite sweet dishes.
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.
Crisp, flaky and light with a soft, buttery middle, croissants are one of the most famous French pastries out there. The distinctive layers in these breakfast beauties are made by “laminating” a yeast dough with super thin layers of butter, folding and rolling the pastry over and over to create lots of layers that puff up and turn crisp in the oven.
A good croissant should taste super buttery with a subtle yeast flavour too, and make a lovely crunch sound when you tear into it. To make sure your croissant tastes as fresh and delicious as possible, a proper bakery croissant like these tasty mini crescents should be eaten on the day it was baked. Want to get that super fresh, warm croissant at home without leaving your house? Why not buy a bag of bake-at-home croissants which you can chuck in the oven and serve straight away. Not only will they taste extra great, but your whole home will smell of fresh baking all day long too...
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.
Literally translated as “burnt cream”, a creme brûlée is a pot of rich, set vanilla custard topped with sugar which is then grilled or torched until it melts into one crunchy sheet of caramelised “glass” across the top.
These creamy pots are best served chilled or at room temperature, so make a great option if you’re throwing a dinner party as they can easily be made ahead of time. When you’re ready to serve, simply remove the custards from the fridge, sprinkle each with a teaspoon of fine caster sugar and pop them under the grill (set to high) or gently scorch them with a blowtorch until the sugar melts, bubbles and turns a medium brown.
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 this flan dessert too, as seen in our recipe here.
Mille feuille, or "custard slice" to you and me, 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.
Have our French masterpieces got you craving something sweet? No need to jump on the Eurostar; simply check out our full range of pastries, cakes, custards and bakes online or pop into your local store.