Bastille Day is not a day that is well known or celebrated by most people. So what is it all about? I can tell you one thing: it is not a day celebrating the English indie band, Bastille. During the year 1798, the French were experiencing food shortages and King Louis XVI was losing popularity with the people. Their resentment was turning to hatred which eventually led to the revolution.
The 14th of July celebrates the beginning of the French Revolution with the Storming of the Bastille–a fortress-prison. On this very day, exactly one year later, was the first annual Fȇte de la Fédération which commemorates the unity of France as a nation during the French Revolution.
To properly honor this new-found freedom and unity, the people of France set off fireworks, had a four-day feast and obviously drank some fine wine. This feast that lasted over the course four days was especially important. Before the revolution, the people of France endured starvation and hardship for many years, so feasting for four days after the revolution was very significant in showing their escape from that difficult way of life.
Today, people all over the world celebrate Bastille Day; some celebrate because of their heritage and others just want another reason to eat good food and set off fireworks. Although there was traditionally an extravagant feast, there’s no specific food related to Bastille Day as burgers, hot dogs, and pies are necessary to celebrate the 4th of July here in America. This means that most people basically cook anything that is French and delicious.
At Ellie’s this year we decided to create a Croquembouche for the occasion. This pastry is very traditional in the French culture and dates back to the 1700s where it was presented on tables of French royalty.
A croquembouche is made up of pate a choux, or what we think of as cream puffs, stacked in tower form and stuck together with caramelized sugar. It is most commonly garnished with a web of thinly spun caramel encasing the entire cone.
Croquembouches have been used at weddings, baptisms, birthdays, and all sorts of celebrations for hundreds of years, so we found it appropriate to use it in celebrating Bastille Day as well.
This particular croquembouche is studded with blueberries and raspberries sitting atop a vanilla cake filled with vanilla buttercream and dusted powdered sugar, garnished with spun caramelized sugar. Although this cone of glory is mostly for looks, we will be selling cream puffs filled with whipped chocolate hazelnut ganache at the bakery. Plus, as a special treat, if you stop to say “summertime in Paris”, we will give you a French macaron, on us!