Pastries for a holy weekend

May 26th, 2007

Pentecost Sunday in southern France coincides with Memorial Day weekend in the US this year.  This three day holiday always brings a springish pause before summer’s long hot days really move in.  Today the valley landscape is especially verdant and very, very wet. A steady rain has been soaking in, much to the delight of gardeners (great time for transplanting and pulling weeds) and ecologists concerned about our water supply. I’ll grab an umbrella and run to the bakery for a pastry or two, and have been giving my selection some thought: will it be a Sacristain – the long, twisted flaky pastry (rolled in flaked almonds) – or a Jesuite?  The triangular Jesuite is also flaky, but with an icing on top (and almonds) of a light-as-air pastry. Or will I succumb to a Religeuse, a cream puff base filled with sinfully thick chocolate ganache, capped by a fluted (almond edged) ruff supporting a chocolate-glazed chou-knob?  Ah, there are always more contenders lined up under glass to tempt me: fruit and frangipane tartelettes, elegant éclairs and layered genoise topped with local strawberries.  Between two bakeries in our village, the choice of pastries will be difficult.  I’ll probably bring back one of each almond-topped temptations – in the name of research, of course.  Whether flaky, fruity, or oozing ganache, these Sunday indulgences will surely inspire some almond recipes for the next posting!