‘Let them eat cake’ revisited

It’s almost the end of the month and I haven’t yet revisited a post from our years in France. Becky introduced her readers to Flashback Friday. That’ll do me. Especially in the week of the Great British Bake-off final.

‘LET THEM EAT CAKE’ 27th November 2012

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

Author: margaret21

I'm retired and living in North Yorkshire, where I walk as often as I can, write, volunteer, and travel as often as I can.

58 thoughts on “‘Let them eat cake’ revisited”

    1. Annoyingly, I had tried to correct this immediately after publication but I can’t seem to get it to ‘take’ – I’ll try again later . Off out now.


  1. I used to bake cakes and biscuits all the time when my children were at home. Not now though. Occasionally I will buy a cake from a farm shop. Never from a supermarket. And you can’t beat a good Yorkshire parkin.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve just read our Tier 3 regulations and found this:
        Avoid travelling to other parts of the UK, and under no circumstances go for a walk with anyone named Margaret. If walking in Yorkshire, under no circumstances should Kendal Mint Cake be consumed.


  2. I love how Bake-Off has captivated people all over the world, and was mightily displeased to find our telly companies aren’t showing it any more ☹️ Definitely not a fan of supermarket cakes, and to be honest, even the high-end specialist cake shops that have sprung up seem to be all about elaborate icing and pretty average cake.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, supermarket cakes are Not Worth Getting Fat For. But they’re better than French ones, which is saying something. Here, cup cakes in cake shops still seem to be a thing. Inches-thick mounds of icing. .. shudder. I presume NZ abandoned Bake-Off when Bake-Off abandoned the BBC?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s not really a cake, but one supermarket confection I recall from my times in the UK is Bakewell tart. Under a sort of marbled icing it was almond-flavoured sweet stodge, but somehow moreish. I have always meant to try making one, but decades later I still have not got around to it!


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