Yesterday was awesome. Excuse my lack of eloquence, but there’s just no beating around the bush- it was simply awesome. Here’s why:
1. In spite of feeling lackluster and daunted by the idea of spending the afternoon speaking in French (still working on my fear of immersing myself in the language), I decided to help my friend make a birthday cake. And boy am I glad that I did. Not only was it a fun-filled afternoon with a French friend, but also an educational experience chock-full of vocabulary, and a French Baking 101 session.
You see, I learned how to make un Gâteau au Yaourt, a yogurt cake, one that French children master when they’re five. 1 point for France. Americans are lucky if they know how to make brownies from a box by age five.
But let’s talk cake. This was one of the best ways to ease into French baking, especially for me (context alert- I am the WORST baker. Seriously. I once turned boxed brownies into a brick slab, though to be fair my crazy vegan roommate told us that we could use oil as a substitute for eggs- this is FALSE).
The reason this cake is so wonderful for an American like me, or a novice French cake baker, is that all the measurements are in un pot, aka the convenience of a yogurt container.
Here’s the recipe:
– 1 paquet de levure (baking powder)
-1 paquet de sucre vanillé (vanilla sugar)
– 1 pot de yaourt (cup of yogurt)
– 1 pot d’huile (oil- specifically vegetable oil)
– 2 pots de sucre (sugar)
– 3 pots de farine (flour)
– 3 œufs (eggs)
Préparation de la recette :
-Mélanger tout simplement les ingrédients un à un, dans l’ordre ci-dessus.
-Verser la pâte dans un moule à gâteau.
-Puis, faire cuire à 180°C (thermostat 6) pendant 30 min environ.
-Vérifier la cuisson avec la pointe d’un couteau, qui doit ressortir sèche.
(Basically mix the ingredients one by one in the order above, pour batter into a cake pan, and bake at 180 ° C for about 30 min. It’s done if you poke the center with a knife, and the knife comes out clean. Tres simple, non?)
Then came the fun part- the icing. Some people make just a simple whipped cream frosting. We decided to put nutella in the center, and additionally make Pâte à Sucre (sugar dough/paste).
Ingrédients (pour 300 grammes) :
– Une cuillère à soupe de miel (tablespoon of honey)
– 300 grammes de sucre glace (powdered sugar)
– Un demi blanc d’oeuf de calibre moyen (half egg white)
– colorant alimentaire (food coloring)
This was a wee bit more complicated as it required whisking the honey and egg white, separating said ingredients into three different bowls to mix three different colors, adding powdered sugar to the mixture to create a dough ball, and then battling said dough with a rolling-pin. This process is easy if you’re a Frenchie who grew up doing hand-made quiche dough, but a tad tricky if you’re used to the store-bought stuff. I spent a good while making sure the dough was not too wet and not too dry. And even longer trying to roll it out without breaking it.
I will say that mixing the colors and digging my hands into the process brought back fond memories of childhood, as well as made me thankful to have une vraie expérience française. And in the end, the hard work paid off as it made for a beautiful, and delicious, final product.
2. Now on to the next part of why yesterday was awesome. Oh yes, the cake was only just the beginning. After baking, and a successful tutoring session, I met my new french friend for a spectacle, which turned out to be a western themed casino night (aparently the two are synonymous?). There were blackjack tables (I won!!), les pom-pom girls (aka cheerlearders), roaming cowboys and bandits, live music with one mean harmonic player, and lots of Frenchies dressed in ‘Western attire’. It looked like a clichéd cowboy movie had thrown up all over the place. It was, for lack of better words, awesome. I was quite thrilled to do something cheap, unique, and throughly entertaining (as well as get a first hand view of what Frenchies think of my state). I loved listening at the black jack table as fellow players cautiously said, “eet mee” or “euh non, je vais stayee.” Or watching as cowboy hat wearing Frenchies do-si-doed in circles and over enthusiastically slapped their knees. Felt like home.
3. The night finally ended with a gigantic simile plastered across my face as I reflected on how not too long ago I wrote about being broke and unemployed in France, and how yesterday, in the midst of all the day’s glory, I got offered a job!
Needless to say, today I’m feeling good. I’m feeling thankful for all of these experiences that I continue to enjoy. I’m thankful for my life here in France.
Nothing quite like a series of wonderful events to put a skip in my step. So happy Thursday to all! It’s almost the end of the week for some of you (depending on when your week starts..). I will end with my dear friend Bublé (yes we’re on a last name basis) because his music so aptly conveys how I feel…