Desserts tell us stories. Here is a small repertoire of the tastiest anecdotes hidden behind our favorite cakes.
Whether because of their shape, the ingredients needed to prepare them or the name of their inventor, desserts have names that tell us stories. From far Breton to profiteroles via Saint Honoré, the origins of pastries, sometimes surprising, are as delectable as the cakes themselves. Before biting into these stories to the fullest, we can only wish you an excellent tasting!
Essential on the menu of great restaurants, the profiterole testifies to a much more modest origin. To understand this, we have to go back to a tradition that dates back to the 16th century. At that time, it was common to reward servants with food. A ball of dough rolled on itself, cooked under the ashes, then soaked in a broth served as a bonus. This “small profit” was then called “profiterole”, as Rabelais evokes in Pantagruel, speaking of “the profiterole of indulgences”. When the small round cake was invented in the 19th century, its name was quickly found.
● The Saint Honored
The Saint Honoré pays homage to the bishop of Amiens who lived in the 6th century and who became the patron saint of bakers. To understand how the Chiboust pastry craftsman had the idea of giving this name to his cake around 1850, just remember that the establishment was located rue Saint Honoré in Paris.
● The nun
With chocolate or coffee, the nun and her cousin, the éclair, make us salivate over the pastries. The nun was created in 1855 in the famous Parisian café “chez Frascati” at the corner of boulevard Montmartre and rue de Richelieu. It is quite simply the shape of the cake, reminiscent of the outfit of the nuns, which inspired the creator.
● The clafoutis
The origin of the word clafoutis is the subject of debate among specialists. For some, the term derives its origin from the Occitan “clafir” which means “topping” or “filling”. For others, the origin of the name of this cake with a thousand variations goes back to the Latin “clavum fingere” which meant to drive a nail, in the same way as cherries are driven into the dessert dough.
● The Paris-Brest
To understand the meaning of the name Paris-Brest, there is no need to look far. The cake takes its name from its round shape, reminiscent of a bicycle wheel. Its inventor simply wanted to pay tribute to the cycle race that linked the French capital and the Breton city.
● The macaroon
Certainly round cakes have existed for a long time in France, they were also referred to in old French as “macheries” according to the LLF. However, it was during the Renaissance that Catherine de Medici introduced the “maccherone” into France. Produced in Joyeuse, in Ardèche, these little sweets have long kept a double Franco-Italian name: macaron and “macaroni”.
● The rum baba
The “baba” is a cake of Polish origin, close to the kouglof (the name “baba” meaning grandmother). Its association with rum dates back to the 18th century. King Stanislas of Poland, a sweets lover, found this traditional pastry to be too dry. So he decided to sprinkle it with Malaga wine to make it softer. The pastry chefs then had the idea of soaking the baba in other alcohols such as rum.
● Far Breton
Plain, with prunes or grapes, far is undeniably a culinary symbol of Brittany. Originally, the Bretons called “farz forn” (literally “far in the oven”) this specialty made from buckwheat flour which was originally a savory dish that was served with meat. The name far comes simply from the meaning of this word in Latin which translates as wheat according to the CNRTL, an essential element in the preparation of the cake.