Thursday, June 14, 2012

Delectable things I saw in England

Ah, British cakes.

Very self-consciously, monarchist British cakes these. Though of course the cake which Marie-Antoinette might have ( but probably didn't) contemptuously or not, suggest that the starving poor should eat was not meringue, but brioche, a kind of viennoiserie, not exactly what we'd call cake, nor pastry, nor quite bread either. 

Don't get me wrong, I like French cakes, all the viennoiseries, patisseries, tartes, beignets, millefeuilles, moelleux, fondants, madeleines and all those frothy, fluffy creamy things, and indeed the more robust and rustic specialities: kouign-amann, quatres-quarts and all the gâteaux basques, bretons. de Pithiviers etc etc.  One can easily procure cookies and American style muffins, and naturally there are no shortage of shop windows full of meringues here in France too, but they tend to be those very professional, very dry, light ones (are they what's known as Itialian meringues?), whereas these 

are glossy, and look as if they might still have slightly sticky centres, which are the best.

And here are some (only a little bit enhanced) soft fruit with which to fill them.

And I do miss all the variations of a good British sponge cake: coffee and walnut, lemon drizzle, carrot and poppy seed, apricot and almond, Jamaica ginger...

And I also try, when I go to England, to have a cupcake.

The pink one was mine, fruits of the forest, acutally not too horribly synthetic. My family members, British resident so not afflicted by my particular form of nostalgie de pays went for the American-style chocolate muffin and the French/Danish style apricot pastry.

And it's not only sweet stuff I hanker for, there is curry too.

This selection at Camden Lock.

As were these ingredients for smoothies and infusions.

Really the food was one of the best things about Camden Lock, but for the most part I feasted my eyes only, since really, one can only eat and drink one breakfast, one lunch and one dinner (and perhaps one elevenses, or second breakfast, and one afternoon tea).

But there are some delicious things you can't have too much of:

like my lovely sister, on the left, her daughter my niece T, on  the right, and in the middle my youngest niece, all the way from New Zealand. She's very gorgeous, I think you'll agree.


marly said...

How lovely! Yes, it is wonderful to see family and even better to eat cake with them!

Zhoen said...

I think the Three Graces are all beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful photo of the three lovely girls. And the cakes, too. I am now considering the term "American-style muffin." We are very big on our muffins here, it's true, and I make them all the time. I woke up this morning thinking that I would take my car for an oil change this morning and then walk down to Gigi's cafe for a strawberry-rhubarb muffin while the mechanics are at work. Your post confirms that I should do exactly that.
- alison

Bruce Taylor, a.k.a. Catalyst said...

All 3 of your ladies are lovely.

And those muffins aren't bad either!

Rouchswalwe said...

No scones?!?!

The curry made me drool.

I'd like to share an ale with you all!

zephyr said...

And what a delightful trio!

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

Of course all three of them are very lovely, no doubt about that. It's just that I've not seen Isabelle, my youngest niece, for five years, and though she was always beautiful, the last time I saw her she was a rather shy and awkward 17 year old, and I can't get over how much she's blossomed and how poised she is.

Muffins. I didn't know about muffins as sweet cakes until relatively recently; previously they were what might be known stateside as English muffins, really a kind of flat bread roll, not sweet, that one splits down the middle and toasts. Rather nice, especially wholewheat ones, but not really cake.

Rosie said...

girls and cake...we just seem to go together.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

There was a time when 'delectable' did not appear in a sentence with 'England' when it came to food. The Innkeeper's daughter, maybe, but food, no.

marja-leena said...

Delicious looking cakes, indeed. Gorgeous women in your family! Glad it was a great reunion.

We have English muffins for toasting as you say, served wtih butter and jam for breakfast. Muffins, as such, are sweeter and cakey and sometimes fruity eg. banana muffins. Sometimes they can be aavoury like spinach muffins. Almost anything goes, very popular here, and in every coffee shop.

Anonymous said...

Lucy, what we call English muffins are exactly as you describe, flat and round, toasted then spread with butter and/or jam and/or peanut butter. "Muffins," on the other hand, are pretty much cake baked in muffin tins. All tasty!
- alison