Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An American Bakery in Paris

I used to have this fantasy that I would move to Paris and open a bakery.  An American Bakery in Paris.  Ah oui, in the land of croissants, baguettes, pains au chocolat, 

millefeuilles, macarons, éclairs, pains aux raisins, etc. I was going to bake muffins, brownies, pound cake, chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, peanut butter pies (I would be the one to finally make the French embrace peanut butter!), lemon bars, scones, sugar cookies-- all the wonderful things I've been baking for as long as I can remember.  I still think the idea has merit even though I have recently seen muffins, chocolate chip cookies and brownies for sale at open air markets and in certain coffee shops in France.  I'll bet they are not as good as mine.  Well, actually, there is (was?) a guy selling brownies at the Saturday market in Arles and I tried one one day and struck up a conversation with him.  I will hand it to him, his brownie was good.  And, as it turns out, he has a friend who is a chef in Asheville, NC who gave him the recipe.  Small world, n'est-ce pas?  He even had little American flags decorating his pushcart.
Hmmm... back to the fantasy.  Now, I wonder, would I open up in Paris or would I head south to Provence?  A little shop on a crowded street, perhaps?  A nice window where I would display all my treats.  A few tables so that customers could sit and enjoy a muffin with a cup of coffee or tea.  I would add lavender lemon butter cookies to the menu, using Provence lavender florets.  Lavender truffles?  Lavender citron pressé for hot days.  For those who don't really care for sweets, I suppose I could offer my caramelized onion and goat cheese tart or tomato tart.  I make a really good onion quiche, too.  Sure, I would attract the homesick Americans who really just want to find someone who speaks their language.  But that would be okay.  I could offer them information in English about the area, maybe help them find interesting things to do and see.  Rick Steves might even mention me in his guide books.  Maybe I would attract a loyal local following, too.  My mission would be to prove to the French that we Americans can hold our own over a hot oven.  Mildred the Mixer would come with me, of course.  The Ex-Ex could be the business man (he is way more practical than me).  We could live in a little, cozy apartment over the bakery because we would want to be able to walk practically everywhere we would need to go.  I would decorate the shop with lovely scenes of North Carolina (it really is the most beautiful state in the whole United States). Of course, the town we would live in would have a train station nearby so that we could take trips. 
A very nice fantasy for a hot June day, non?

These muffins would be good with just about any kind of berry.  The little cherries from my sister's cherry tree would be perfect... I wish I'd brought some home with me!

Berry Muffins
(makes 12)

1-3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large beaten egg
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. cooking oil
1 cup blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, etc.
1 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel, optional

Grease twelve muffin cups or line with paper baking cups.
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in the center; set aside.
In another bowl, combine egg, milk and oil.
Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened.  Batter should be lumpy.
Carefully fold in fruit and lemon peel, if desired.
Spoon batter evenly into the muffin cups.  If desired, sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.
Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from muffin cups.
Serve warm.  Garnish with additional fruit, if desired.

Bon appétit, summer berries!

No comments: