It’s no secret that the French take their desserts very seriously! More than just cake and buttercream, French cakes can contain layers of meringue, pastry cream, mousse, pâte à choux, puff pastry, whipped cream, jam, ganache and more. These 5 fabulous French cakes are a great introduction to the world of gateaux and tortes, with recipes ranging from simple and sublime to detailed and decadent.
1. Baba Au Rhum
Baba au Rhum or Rum Baba are tiny, yeast-leavened cakes. They’re typically baked in small, cylindrical molds like the one above made by Chef Iso, or in larger bundt pans. Once the cake is baked it’s soaked in rum (hence the name). Baba Au Rhum is decadent as is, but can be made even more luxurious with the addition of whipped cream or pastry cream.
2. Buche De Noel
This holiday classic is known as a Yule log here in the States, but in France it’s a buche de Noel. The traditional recipe, like this one, consists of thin chocolate cake rolled with a buttercream or whipped cream filling. It’s finished with chocolate buttercream to resemble tree bark and topped with marzipan leaves or meringue mushrooms. Modern versions can be found in endless flavor combos.
Like many other kinds of French cakes, a Charlotte is less of a strict recipe and more of a technique. A cake pan is lined with cookies, cake or even bread and then filled with whipped cream, fruit puree, jams, pastry cream or fresh fruit. This recipe from Natasha’s Kitchen is a great place to start if you’ve never made one before.
These towers of cream puffs are the traditional wedding cake of France. It’s a feast for the eyes and the senses, composed of cream puffs dipped in caramel and wrapped with spun sugar. Modern versions include candy, ganache, chocolate drips, sugar flowers and more. Learn how to assemble one like a pro with this tutorial by yours truly.
Dacquoise is a layer of meringue that typically contains finely ground nuts. They can be stacked and filled with cream and berries for a rustic dessert or layered within intricate entremet-style cakes.