petite anglaise

October 19, 2004

sweet temptation

Filed under: miam — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:00 am

I will never cease to marvel at the tantalising array of cakes on offer in a typical French Pâtisserie. When I first arrived in Paris, I set myself the not unpleasant challenge of eating a different pastry every day until I ran out of options. I soldiered on for three whole weeks before abandoning the enjoyable experiment, as there was no end in sight and I was already unable to fasten my trousers.

As I have said before, purchasing a new cake for the first time is a rather tricky business, as baker’s shops never seem to put the gender on the little cardboard signs. Probably on purpose. So that only French people can buy them without having to resort to undignified pointing.

A firm favourite of mine is the religieuse (situated to the right of the éclairs in the photo) It’s like a round eclair with another round bobble of choux on top. So called because it resembles a churchgoing lady in her Sunday best. Allegedly. Very tasty as long as the filling (chocolate or coffee, not plain whipped cream like in the UK) is strongly flavoured enough. Personally I’m rather fond of moussey layer cakes with elegant names like Opéra, but these must be transported with care and eaten with a spoon, so are not suitable for a quick sugar fix when on the move.

One which I have yet to try is the gland, another variation on the choux pastry theme, but this time with rather vivid green icing and chocolate sprinkly bits on top. I have no idea what the flavour of the filling is and prefer not to speculate. Gland in French means ‘acorn’. This has the same connotations in French as in English. So, being a girl who can’t even eat a banana in public without first breaking it into small pieces, you’ll understand why I won’t be partaking of a glans gland any time soon.

I stood in front of the baker’s shop window yesterday evening, pondering over what I could buy as a little treat to brighten up my otherwise dreary Monday, and was surprised to feel a pang of longing for a boring old British cake. A bun with fluorescent icing and smarties on top. Or an iced bun – i.e. a bread finger with icing on. Then I remembered the gingerbread ghosts I had purchased in England last weekend, supposedly for Halloween.

*wipes crumbs off keyboard*

With the benefit of hindsight, I think the ginger would have been too strong for the Tadpole anyhow. And she’s too young to understand about Halloween. Isn’t she?

Peter André eat your heart out

*Try this at home: type the word ‘gland’ in google and search for images. Only then will you appreciate what I went through to find a photo of the French cake. Not for the faint hearted.


  1. You know you can use more than one word in a Google query, don’t you? Try “gland patisserie” for example: it’s much more relaxing for the eyes…

    Comment by Simon — October 19, 2004 @ 10:53 am

  2. I think “réligieuse” also means “nun”…

    Comment by witho — October 19, 2004 @ 11:03 am

  3. I LOVE French patisseries and boulangeries, and can spend hours just staring at the fantastic things on offer. In fact when we go to France (the BF’s mother is French and his parents have a house in a village an hour away from Lyon), one of the things I look forward to is eating because I know there will be deserts for lunch and dinner (oh, and gratin dauphinoise!)

    Comment by OJ — October 19, 2004 @ 11:11 am

  4. Ah, you filled me with nostalgia for sticky buns…what about that sugar-rush special the yum-yum with its marvellously evocative name? It beats the socks off les tartes de Chaumont-Gistoux any day (provided you’re after the quick fix, that is).

    Comment by Chameleon — October 19, 2004 @ 11:11 am

  5. This kind of picture is just unfair on poor frogs living in UK :cry:
    Now I can’t stop staring at the screen, my tastebuds are going mad and whish I could be home, just to buy one of those lovely eclair, or even a nice tartelette aux framboises…
    Not that I dislike flapjacks, scones, muffins and bakewell tarts, but there are just not the same…

    Comment by emilie [mimile] — October 19, 2004 @ 11:32 am

  6. Hey do you get Merveilleux over there or is that just a belgian pastry thing

    Comment by Ms Jones — October 19, 2004 @ 11:50 am

  7. Tadpole is way too young for Halloween. Much better that you have clogged up your computer with the gingerbread. :wink:

    Very common in Southern Africa is Monkeygland Sauce. Probably also available in your local Waitrose at a hugely inflated price.

    Comment by Claypot — October 19, 2004 @ 1:07 pm

  8. Witho – don’t get me started on nuns. I decided not to include the rather unfortunately named ‘pet de nonne’ cakes because I didn’t want to lower the tone too much…

    Jonesy – don’t know what a Merveilleux is but something tells me I’d like it. Any kind Belgians out there who’d be willing to pop one in the post?

    Comment by petite — October 19, 2004 @ 2:16 pm

  9. Give me un gateau d’Eccles with best butter anytime.:lol:

    Comment by birdman — October 19, 2004 @ 2:50 pm

  10. right, that’s it… sod portugal… I’m moving to France… I want CAKE!

    Comment by vitriolica — October 19, 2004 @ 3:03 pm

  11. Mmmm. Those patisseries look très delicieuse! (or something like that anyway :mrgreen:)

    Comment by Cass — October 19, 2004 @ 3:37 pm

  12. I’ve had this pastry before, and it’s not one of the most exciting ones… the cream inside has no added flavor, so it’s sort of vanilla-y. However, the bakeries in Le Havre all seem to call it a “salambo”, so I didn’t have to overcome the name to get brave enough to buy it.

    Comment by kim — October 19, 2004 @ 3:42 pm

  13. You think that’s bad, just wait till Google finds you.

    Comment by Watski — October 19, 2004 @ 7:33 pm

  14. Keith has just been drooling over that photo! He spends a large part of every evening bemoaning the fact that we have not cake in the house, or if we have, that we haven’t got enough! :)

    Comment by Jennytc — October 19, 2004 @ 7:48 pm

  15. Watski – well, yes, I never cease to be amazed that typing “ginger suppository punishment stories” pointed someone in my direction…

    Comment by petite — October 19, 2004 @ 8:39 pm

  16. Yeah I grew up on those. Once a week, usually for our sunday evening dinner, the parents would get Patisseries for the 5 of us. I’d always hawk over my youngest Sister’s dessert as I knew she’d never finish it. :twisted:

    Here’s a fun piece of trivia: my Dad is American, when he and my Mom were first together, he’d go to a french boulangerie asking for what sounded like “Petite Vieille”. This 6’4″ 200lbs man never exactly went unnoticed with his strong American accent at the local shops. In this case, he was looking for ” un Pitivier“.

    I know where I’m headed when I arrive home this xmas. mm-MMMM.

    Comment by chris holland — October 19, 2004 @ 9:49 pm

  17. petite, i found your blog today rather by accident and just wanted to tell you that i am very glad i did.

    thanks for the chuckles.

    Comment by maryse — October 19, 2004 @ 10:40 pm

  18. i can’t believe i typed “chuckles”


    Comment by maryse — October 19, 2004 @ 10:42 pm

  19. I am rather fond of religeuses (chocolate not coffee)and also thought they were supposed ot look like a nun.
    I am amazed no one has started selling them in England.

    Comment by David K — October 20, 2004 @ 9:48 am

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