When it comes to artful cooking, France has always been in the spotlight. This country is known for their artisan breads and pastries. There’s no wonder why every home baker and chef dreams of going to France. They simply want to have a first-hand experience on pastry making wherein science meets art.
The good news is that you really need not travel to France to make fancy French pastries, as the ingredients you need are all there in your pantry (if not, you can easily find them in local stores). What’s more, there are an abundance of recipes online to try and experiment on. Who knows? You might just develop your own version of croissant, tarte tatin or French macaroons.
French pastries come in so many kinds, and choosing something to try making at home can be overwhelming. But there are actually a few best French pastries that you can start with. They are not only supremely delicious, they are extremely popular. Serving these world-known pastry creations to your friends and family will surely make you a superstar home baker!
This lovely artisan bread has a crisp, light and flaky texture, and buttery, rich flavour. There’s that crackling sound as you bite, which gives way to a soft, delicious and almost melt-in-your-mouth interior. And you know what? Homemade croissants can be as flavourful as those served in popular boulangeries in Paris.
Éclair is another regional French pastry that is made with choux pastry, filled with delicious pastry cream, and topped with icing. The dough is typically piped into an oblong shape and baked until it crisp in the outside and hollow inside. Once cool, the pastry is filled with chocolate, coffee or vanilla-flavoured cream. The pastry is then coated with fondant icing and served. The name is a French word which means ‘flash of lightning’ as it is best when eaten quickly after baking.
You may know this as ‘Napoleon’, but in France, they call this precious little cake ‘mille-fueille’, which means ‘thousand leaves’ referring to the slightly crackly thin layers of pastry that are sandwiched and filled with pastry cream, and topped with icing. The top is commonly marbled for that simple yet elegant look.
This lovely pasty hails from Brittany or Breton region of France. It is a round pastry made with a dough similar with that of a croissant, and is folded and refolded, rounded, and baked. The key to this flaky yet soft pastry is baking it at a low temperature, allowing the dough to puff and form many layers. The sugar on the outer layer caramelises and forms a crispy crust that crackles with your every bite. In the region where this pastry originally came from, the name translates as “butter cake.”
Also known as cream puff, profiterole is a filled French choux pastry ball with a sweet filling (often custard or pasty cream). The choux paste is either piped or spooned into balls, then baked crisp and golden, and hollow inside. Once cool, the puffs may be served plain or garnished with chocolate sauce, caramel, or dusting of icing sugar.