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?