The French once called Bavarian cream “fromage Bavarois”? What on Earth does Bavarian cream have to do with cheese? The answer is nothing. The word “fromage”, as I understand it, refers as much to a process as it does to a specific food. Classically, “fromage” is something which is “made in a form.” We anglophones can see the relationship a little more clearly in the Italian word for cheese: formaggio. A loose translation of the Old French “fromage Bavarois” might be a “Bavarian cream in a form.”

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Keepin’ Away Them Haints

Well the painters are finishing up today, it’s going to feel great to have my lawn back after nearly two weeks of dancing around drop cloths and ladders. Among the finishing touches are the front and back porch ceilings. The color picker for the painting company we’re using asked if, instead of the grey-green we’re using for the main body of the house, if we wouldn’t prefer a nice “haint” blue for the porch ceilings. What the heck is a “haint”? Turns out the blue is a Southern thing, a traditional hex supposed to keep evils spirits (“haunts”) out of your house. Explanations vary as to …

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So then is Bavarian cream actually Bavarian?

Nice follow-up question, Robin! The answer is no. Probably not. Maybe not. It’s hard to say, for the origin of Bavarian cream is murky. Some food historians say that Bavarian cream — classically known as fromage Bavarois — was brought to France by a French chef who’d worked in Bavaria, but there’s no evidence for that.

Auguste Escoffier claimed that “bavarois” was actually a Russian invention that should by all rights be called “Muscovite”, yet no one is entirely sure whether Escoffier was talking about a pastry filling or a drink, a concoction of hot tea, milk, egg yolks, sugar and Kirsch that went by the same name. …

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Fruit Mousse = Bavarian Cream?

Reader Robin writes:

If this cake is a type of “Bavarois” which means “Bavarian” obviously, does that mean that fruit mousse is a Bavarian cream?

That’s exactly what it means, Robin. The world of Bavarian creams is broad and diverse. There are dozens of crème anglaise Bavarians, eggless gelatin-thickened fruit Bavarians, non-dairy Bavarians lightened with meringue instead of whipped cream, the list goes on and on. I’ve only made a couple of them on the blog so far, but then life is long. I’ll get to them eventually.

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Oh yes, she’s quite the laugh riot.

Reader Elle writes:

I’ve heard it said that Joconde cake gets its name from the Mona Lisa, but if that’s true…how?

That’s an interesting story, Elle. It may or may not be true, but that won’t stop me from telling it. It goes like this: the portrait of the Mona Lisa was commissioned by a fellow by the name of Francesco di Bartholommeo di Zanobi del Giocondo, a wealthy silk merchant who had way too many names, but who nevertheless lived in Florence around the turn of the Sixteenth Century. He commissioned the painting — a portrait of his wife, a commoner by the name of Lisa Gherardini — to commemorate the birth of their second son, Andrea….

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Fruit Mousse Cake (Bavarois) Recipe

This recipe calls for more base material than one small cake will likely need. I’ll get back to you on how much overage there is once the beast has been made, and probably adjust the component list accordingly. Personally I like having extra stuff around…to make other pastries with, or just to eat late at night in front of the television when everyone else has gone to bed. You’ll need:

1 recipe fruit mousse, made with peaches
1/2 recipe joconde
1 recipe génoise baked in a sheet pan
about 1/2 cup orange marmalade
powdered sugar to finish

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Filed under:  Bavarian (Bavarois), Pastry | 2 Comments

Bubble, Bubble…Toil & Trouble

Reader K writes:

Joe, it seems like every time I see a recipe that calls for whipped egg whites I see the instruction “add cream of tartar or use a copper bowl”. Can you tell me why a copper bowl is the equivalent of adding cream of tartar? I just don’t understand it.

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Next Up: Fruit Mousse Cake

It’s hot and will be all week, so something light and fruit-based is called for. Since I haven’t done anything especially fancy for a while my thought is to try a fruit mousse cake of the type that’s been popular the last five years or so. As far as I know it hasn’t got a proper name, just a look, and you can see it here on the cover of the French Culinary Institute’s 2009 book. Looks kinda fun, no? It’ll take an obsessive hand to spread joconde batter that thinly and consistently, but I might be just the baker to do it. We’ll see. Since berry season is over I think I’ll make a peach mousse instead of that one, which looks to be raspberry. …

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Kentucky State Fair Wrap-Up

Well it’s been one heck of a full week of work. But I’m never too busy to take at least one trip to the State Fair which happens every year here in Louisville at this time. I feel very lucky that the fair is so accessible. With the exception of Minneapolis I’ve never lived in such close proximity to a state fair, and wow are they ever worth the trip. The corn dogs alone justify the price of admission (future project, anyone?) to say nothing of all the entertainments, rides, exhibitions and of course livestock. I try to go early in the week so as not to miss the cock crowing contests which only happen when the poultry is on display.

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Would you believe…

…the gas company guy showed up as well today to install a new meter. ALSO unannounced. Just grab a hard hat and join the party, pal! What a week this has been. Instead of flour and fondant my hands are covered with primer and concrete mix. Makes me feel manly anyway. Have a great weekend and more from me Monday, promise. – Joe

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