‘Let them eat cake’

Back in the UK, I hear everyone’s gone baking mad, that the entire nation was glued to its screens to watch the final of  ‘The Great British Bake-off’.  Here in France, it’s the one branch of cookery in which the average French person will allow the average Brit some supremacy.

The French are rightly proud of their high-end patisserie, the delectable tarts and gâteaux which traditionally come to the table at the end of a family celebration or Sunday lunch: from the baker’s naturally, no shame in that.

More day-to-day baking is a different matter, however.  Plainish cakes, loaf-shaped and known in France as ‘cake’, are a big disappointment, especially if they’re from the supermarket.  I find them over-dry, over-sugared, too strongly flavoured with something, such as vanilla, that should be a subtle undertone.  I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but even cakes available in any old British supermarket can be quite a treat in comparison.

McVitie’s Jamaican ginger cake, for example, dark and sticky, is just the thing with a hot cuppa after a brisk country walk in winter: it even has its own website.  And while I’m not sure that Mr. Kipling makes exceedingly good cakes, they’re – well – not too bad.

No wonder then, that when we run our cookery workshops at Découvertes Terres Lointaines, and announce that we’ll be turning our hands to British tea-time treats, the group is immediately oversubscribed .  Scones, coffee and walnut cake and a nice of cup of tea anyone?

Supermarket scene in France

4 thoughts on “‘Let them eat cake’”

  1. Never had a supermarket ‘cake’ here but there are always some pretty nice ones at St Girons market, on sale either as a whole or in slices. One of my favourite French cakes is quatre quarts made with Breton butter with fleur de sel. You’ll have to come and stay – I sometimes do it for breakfast 🙂

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    1. Oh yes, I’ve tried that one, as a friend makes it. It IS good. The good ones are mainly Breton, I find. I’ve only had supermarket cakes offered by others, and I think they’re pretty dire. Not Worth Getting Fat For, as the saying goes.

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