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The French know how to combine the simplest of ingredients with classic techniques to produce something wonderful from the oven, which is exactly what makes French baking some of the most rewarding to make and eat.
The French influence on baking is definitely something we should be grateful for. When it comes to the nation's repertoire of baked goods, you should take a leaf out of the French housewife book: leave the rainbow-coloured macarons and towering croquembouche to the professional pâtissières. Instead, invest your baking efforts in simple showstoppers from delicate madeleines and luscious crème brûlée to tangy citron au tarte.
One of my favourites is the heavenly tarte Tatin. Created by the Tatin sisters who ran a hotel in France in the early 1900s, this upside-down tart is traditionally made with apples, though I have teamed mine with sweet pears.
As far as savoury pies and tarts go, quiche Lorraine, from the Lorraine area in northern France, is a quintessential example of French baking. It’s basically an open egg and bacon pie; only the French know how to take such a simple concept and create something so sublime.
And let’s not forget the clever ways the French use leavened puff pastry, which is essentially puff pastry with yeast added, resulting in a pastry that has an incredibly light and airy texture, which gives pastries such as croissants and pain au chocolat their unique flaky characteristic.
The classic soufflé is the most wonderful combination of classic French technique and simple ingredients. Although often daunting, it is no more than basic ingredients treated with care and consideration to produce something that is rich yet light all at once.
French baking recipes
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Kristine Duran-Thiessen and Lynsey Fryers (Quiche Lorraine). Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
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