14 July 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

That's funny. Marie Antoinette was not talking about cake-cake (and there is speculation that she was even the person to coin the phrase; it has been attributed to Marie-Therese, wife of Louis XIV, as well). She was talking about something much different. According to The Straight Dope, Marie's "cake" can be defined as follows: The operative term was brioche, a flour-and-water paste that was "caked" onto the interiors of the ovens and baking pans of the professional boulangers of the era. (The modern equivalent is the oil-and-flour mixture applied to non-Teflon cake pans.) At the end of the day, the baker would scrape the leavings from his pans and ovens and set them outside the door for the benefit of beggars and scavengers. Thus, the lady in question was simply giving practical, if somewhat flippant, advice to her poor subjects: If one cannot afford the bourgeois bread, he can avail himself of the poor man's "cake."  Certainly leaves a bad taste in my mouth to think of eating something like that.

I didn't make a cake (or "cake"_ for Bastille Day. I did make Pain au Chocolat. I cheated though. This literally calls for two ingredients and the patience to wait for them to bake. Sure, they're not as good as what you'd get from a street food vendor on the streets of Paris, but it's kind of like the cake/"cake" thing. This is the poor-man's chocolate bread! Honestly, I had no intention of making these at all. I had got it into my head that I wanted crescent rolls and picked some up at the grocery store on my way home. Then while looking at the cans chilling in my fridge I thought about the pain au chocolat I make with them and knew that I would be doing so again this evening.

On another note, how do you like my makeover? I have the lovely Blog Fairy, Emily to thank for it. I am beyond happy with it and even feel a little back to my old cooking self. If you're in the market for a makeover, definitely check out her portfolio. She's very reasonably priced and is a wonderful person to work with. Now on to the recipe!

Pain au Chocolat (the poor-man's way)
Recipe from some magazine I read years ago

1 package crescent rolls (I use Pillsbury extra flaky, but any brand or style will do)
Dark chocolate chips (10 chips per crescent)
  1. Preheat oven according to directions on package. Open package and roll out crescents. On the fat end, place your chocolate chips (if you use the bigger crescents instead of the smaller ones, you'll want more chips). Roll up and repeat with each crescent.
  2. Place crescent rolls on a large baking sheet and bake according to the directions on the package. When the crescents are golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove from tray and eat warm.


California Mim said...

Looks yummy. Glad you finally made something, and I'm really diggin' this new layout. Totally rad.

Sharon's Mum Anne said...

I commented on your previous post about your new heading - it's so vibrant and fun.

Should those crescents be called croisants? Whatever we call them they look delicious. An interesting history lesson too - thank you. I had read Marie Antoinette didn't say "let them eat cake" but didn't know how the saying originated. Once again, I'm never too old to learn:-)

Sunshine said...

Mim - Thanks very much. I thought you'd appreciate this one since you seemed to like them that one time I made them for you. Not as good as the real stuff, but definitely good in a pinch.

Anne - I saw your last comment, and thank you very much. Croisants and crescents are kind of interchangeable here so yes, they could be called that. To me, croisants are more flaky though. The direct quote from french into english is, "Let them eat brioche," but even that can't really be attributed to Marie since brioche at the time was something only the wealthy could afford. If the saying actually came from a real person, it's believed to have been a princess from the 16th century or either French or Spanish descent. I learned something new too! I still prefer Marie though.

Honey Mim said...

"Qu'ils mangent la brioche" is the quote, and that would translate as "Let them eat cake." It's also said that she was just being snobby/ironic, since sugar/cake was even more inaccessible to the poor than flour/bread.

Sunshine said...

Mim - But it's also believed that Marie did not say it because she deeply cared about the plight of the less fortunate. She was not known to be a snobby aristocrat or spoiled princess. She just gets a bad rap because of what was going on during that time and who her husband was. Anyway, I did read that la brioche could be translated either way, but then I didn't graduate with degree in french.

Sharon's Mum Anne said...

As we three are in agreement that M.A. said "let them eat cake" then that's exactly what she did say to the peasants in her snobby, ironic way - all in favour say "aye"!!!
Or should that be "oui"???????

Sharon's Mum Anne said...

Whoops Sunshine, just as I pressed
publish your addendum came up! Perhaps we should agree to differ?
My only correction is that Marie Antoinette was a queen rather than a princess.

I've only thrown in a bit of Latin cos I only did schoolgirl french and that was aeons and aeons ago!!!

Sunshine said...

Anne - Mais oui! We can agree that poor Marie said what she did or did not say. I was just trying to be annoying to my little sister. Viva la France!

Allons enfants de la MIM-trie! said...

Okay, I'll agree to disagree... But one more thing about MA not being snobby blah blah blah: she spent a crapload of money of stupid shiz... That could've gone to those pauvres paysans that she supposedly loved. (And I totally caught on that you were just trying to bug me... I hope you caught on that I was doing the same. Heh. Loovvvee yoouuu.)

Sharon's Mum Anne said...

Non, non, non mes enfant- otherwise it's smack derriere and away to bed without any supper!

Sorry ma petite Mim if je've got moi spelling all wrong!! :-(

Mim said...

Spell it however you want! I'm diggin the Franglish! :D

Sharon's Mum Anne said...

Ha, love it, 75-years-old and I'm being "dug". Je suis une rock star :-)

By the way Mim, or may je call tu (ma petite choux), what does :D mean?

Honey Mim said...

:D is like a really big grin. I use it when I really, really like what someone's said or when I'm happy bout something.

Sharon's Mum Anne said...

Ta love :-) :D

Sunshine said...

You two beautiful lovelies crack me up! Shall we continue this over on the next post?