Archive | December, 2010

Cherry on top. Gontran Cherrier opens his first boulangerie in Paris

19 Dec thumb_gotran
gontran_shop_bread

Gontran Cherrier, the new shopfront, braided brioche. Image of Gontran Supplied/©Marie Taillefer

Yesterday I went to the opening of the next big thing in the world of the bread and baked goodness. Gontran Cherrier: the 31-year-old Parisian, 3rd generation baker, hit author of 8 cookbooks and passionate, innovative entrepreneur has just opened his first shop front on the chic Rue Caulaincourt in the buzzing quartier of Montmarte. Gontran is onto a seriously good thing with his unique way of reinventing classics, successfully striking a balance between tradition and innovation, and taking the art of artisian boulangier into the future.

Talking about the future, the French are not big fans of change. If you relocate the office coffee machine, they will strike about it. If you swap the gruyere for goats cheese, they might not eat it. So… it takes one brave, clever and creative cookie to introduce change into something as sacred and intrinsic to every day French life as bread.

I never used to eat much bread before I lived in France, now I just cannot escape it, let alone imagine not eating it. Not only is it served with every meal by default- but it’s always so darn good! Parisians will queue outside a boulangerie on a Sunday morning for 20 minutes while it’s snowing a blizzard and minus 4 degrees- just to get good bread, and on that note, I have a feeling my next busy chez Gontran will be greeted by a massive queue. A queue of enthusiastic Parisians, tourists and expats who appreciate his innovative menu of French classics with a twist, friendly international staff, totally reasonable prices and the buzzing ambience in the beautifully designed, gorgeous hausmannien shop itself (designed by Franz Potisek) where you will find his daily selection of gorgeous breads and pastries such as:

  • Green rocket juice, red paprika or black squid-ink bagel buns
  • Baguettes- traditional or wholegrain
  • Country bread- cut and ordered by weight/kg
  • Bread with black molasses, ginger and coriander seeds
  • Bread with chick pea flour, black olives, candied lemon and herbs of Provence
  • Red miso rye bread
  • Savoury tart of celeriac puree, broccoli, chestnut, endive and almond oil
  • Savoury tart of fennel, broccoli, chicken, pepper crème de comté, olive oil
  • Savoury cheese tart of parmesan, Comté, red onion, lemon, pepper, and thyme
  • Tartine baguette with pâte à tartiner- chocolate caramel or caramel vanilla
  • Brioche infused with fleur d’oranger
Gontran Cherrier Shop

Bakery buzz- friendly staff and eager customers

Focaccia and red pnion cheese tart

Gontran Cherrier Focaccia and Red onion, cheese and thyme tart

Brioche

Loaf of freshly baked Brioche

le menu

Le Menu

chou chou's and pear and almond tart

Chou chou’s and Pear and Almond Tart

Country bread

Country bread- cut and sold by weight

Squid ink and red paprika bagels

Squid ink and red paprika bagels

Freshly baked croissants

Freshly baked croissants

Brioche of vanilla crème, butter, almond marzipan, cardamom, cinnamon, rum soaked almonds and sweet orange

Brioche of vanilla crème, butter, almond marzipan, cardamom, cinnamon, rum soaked raisins and sweet candied orange

Bread

Seasonal (for Christmas):

“La couronne de pain”- a wreath of 8 combined buns with 4 flavours- wholegrain curry (for foie gras), chick pea and lemon (for oysters and seafood), nature/traditional (for meats and charcuterie) and of course chestnut for the cheese board!

La Couronne

Made for sharing. 8 buns, 4 flavours. The perfect bread for a complete Christmas feast

Coming up (À l’Épiphanie):

Gontran will share the recipe with me for his signature ‘Galette des Rois’ – a Traditional french sweet pastry eaten after Christmas and in the month of January- made with almonds, pistachio and cadied lemon. Yum!

Gontran's signature "Galette des Rois"

Coming soon- Gontran’s signature “Galette des Rois”. Image supplied/©Marie Taillefer

If you’re in Paris- here’s where to find the shop. Anywhere else in the world, don’t despair- I have no doubt that a Gontran Cherrier Boulangerie will be opening in your city in the near future!

Gontran Cherrier Artisan Boulanger
22, rue Caulaincourt
75018 Paris
Tèl : +33 (0)1 46 06 82 66
http://www.gontrancherrierboulanger.com

Libido-lovin ‘Lebkuchen’. A very special Swiss gingerbread recipe to celebrate a white Christmas in Paris.

5 Dec
lebkuchen

Libido-Lovin Lebkuchen

It’s snowing in Paris. Very unusual for November, I am told.

Paris is truly magical this time of year, especially with all the Christmas lights illuminating the whole city and Champs-Élysées- and now the recent addition of fresh white snow is literally the icing on the cake.

Here is a picture of the back garden in my apartment building in Paris- the two pics taken just 2 months apart.

autumn_winter_paris

Sudden seasonal change in Paris- the garden in my apartment building

Saying that, it’s bittersweet really- I mean the snow is beautiful, but the -4 degree temperatures can really take its toll. You can see how European traditions have developed over time to compensate for the long, hard winters, with simple pleasures in winter like copious amounts of cheese consumed in raclettes and fondues, warm spiced red wine, hearty soups and casseroles, and ‘Pain d’epice’ a sweet spiced bread served with traditional hot chocolate.

So, to celebrate my first white Christmas, keep the circulation going and prepare simple Christmas treats for friends and family, I am baking a big batch of Lebkuchen- it’s a kind of gingerbread, which originates from Switzerland and Germany with variations between regions. It’s made of molasses, brown sugar, honey, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Sometimes it has candied citrus, nuts and chocolate coating. Yum.

Now, you’re probably eager to hear what it has to do with Libido? Well ginger has a long-standing reputation for its powerful aphrodisiac qualities. A warm, pungent spice, that when combined with cloves (which has similar qualities), it warms the blood to increase circulation, aid digestion and increase metabolism. Perfect for the winter chill! Gingerbread’s popularity as a gift and aphrodisiac even dates back to medieval era when Knights would present shield-shaped pieces of gingerbread as love gifts to their ladies during jousting contests and tournaments. Embossed with cloves to resemble studs and painted with egg white to represent a polished shield, these love gifts were treasured and highly valuable possessions.

Anyway, I love this stuff and I make a huge batch of it every year with a recipe I’ve adapted over the years originally given to me by a German friend’s mother. It’s a one pot, one-bowl recipe so its quite simple to prepare, it’s completely fat free (of course the sugar content makes up for this) and it keeps for a few weeks in an airtight container so it makes a great Christmas gift when packaged and wrapped up nicely. You can add more or less spice depending on your preference- this version is quite strong.

You can cut the cookie dough into star, heart, Christmas tree, or round shapes- however you like. Or simply bake it in a flat, lipped tray, top it with the lemon glaze and slice it into squares. Sooooo good with a big cup of hot chai tea.

Happy (libido) baking!

Recipe: Lebkuchen (Swiss/German Gingerbread)
Makes approx 50-60 biscuits depending on size of moulds

INGREDIENTS

1 cup honey
1 cup molasses/treacle
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tbsps candied orange finely chopped (optional)
5 1/2 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 teaspoon ground ginger

Royal icing (for piping and decoration)

1 1/2 cups (230g) pure icing sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 eggwhite, lightly whisked

Hard white icing/glaze

Prepare as instructed above for royal icing, but gradually add additional fresh lemon juice until it forms a smooth, spreadable paste for application with a plastic spatula or knife.

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium saucepan, stir together the honey and molasses. Bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat for 10 mins and stir in the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and candied citron. In a large bowl, sift and stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger.

lebkuchen_sugars

Caramelising the sugars

sweet ground spices

Cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon

Add the molasses mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. You may need to gradually add extra flour until it makes a moist cookie dough as the consistency will depend on the flour, humidity etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or baking trays.

lebkuchen_candied_Citron_Syrup

Adding the molasses mixture and candied orange to the spiced flour

Lebkuchen Cookie Dough

The mix should look something like this

Once combined, put bowl of cookie mix in the refrigerator until it has cooled to room temperature or lower.

Knead a few handfuls of dough at a time on a floured flat surface/bench and roll out the dough ready for the cookie cutters. Alternatively, Using a small amount of dough at a time, roll into small balls and press down to about 4cm diameter, OR roll out dough and place the mix into a rectangular baking tray with dough at approx 1 cm depth.

Rolling and kneading dough
Knead the dough on a floured surface then roll it out flat 

Cut out cookies using desired shapes and moulds and place onto greased trays.

lebkuchen_shapes

Cutting out shapes

lebkuchen_shapes_cut

Cookies cut with moulds

lebkuchen_on_tray

Cookies on greased baking tray

Bake for 10-15 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown and fragrant. Be careful not to overcook the lebkuchen as the sugars will go too hard when they cool and the biscuits will lose the desired soft center.

Allow to cool completely before icing and decorating.

To make the icing hard (piping):

Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice and enough of the eggwhite to form a firm paste. Place in a piping bag fitted with a 1mm nozzle. Pipe royal icing onto the biscuits. Allow to set for at least one hour.

For the spreadable hard icing glaze, simply add more lemon juice and apply with a knife or spatula.

Enjoy!

lebkuchen_1

lebkuchen with spices

Lebkuchen, chai tea, cinnamon and ground ginger

Afternoon tea

Afteroon tea on a snowy winter day

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