National French Cake or Galette

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

A Shilling Cookery for the People

By Alexis Soyer

Published 1854

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Dearest Eloise,—There is one little and perhaps insignificant French cake, which I feel certain would soon become a favourite in the cottage, more particularly amongst its juvenile inhabitants. It is the famed galette, the melodramatic food of the gamins, galopins, mechanics, and semi-artists of France. Show me one of the above-named citizens who has not tasted this irresistible and famed cake, after having digested the best and most sanguinary melodrama, from the “Courier of Lyons” to the “Corsican Brothers,” and from the “Pilules du Diable” to the “Seven Wonders of the World,” after having paid their duty to the elegance of the performance and performers, and entirely forgetting, as usual, the author, who is supposed to live in his tomb, whilst the actors and artiste are dead in reality. Setting that on one side, observe that the last Seventh Wonder is over, the red-blue-green fire no longer required; the scene-shifter bolts and gets the first cat, smoking hot; then, also, rush the audience, full of melodrama and anything but food, to the galette-shop, where the Père Coupetoujours (Father Cut-and-come-again) is in full activity, taking the money first, and delivering the galette afterwards. Six feet wide by ten long is the galette-shop, and very clean, and above one hundred feet of galette is sold in less than one hour, at a sou or two the cut.

Such is, even in summer, the refreshment of the admirers of the Boulevard du Crime.

Like everything which has its origin with the million, it soon aims to an aristocracy of feeling, and I was not a little surprised, the last time I was in Paris, to see a fashionable crowd round an elegant shop, close to the Gymnase Theatre; on inquiring of a venerable citizen, who was anxiously waiting, with ten sous in his hand, the motive of such a crowd, he informed me that he was waiting his turn to buy ten sous worth of galette du Gymnase, which he told me was the most celebrated in Paris. He passed; and then ladies, beautifully dressed, took their turn; in fact, the crowd brought to my recollection the description of the scene of the bread market at Athens (described in Soyer’s “Pantropheon”), where the ladies of fashion or the petites maitresses of ancient Greece used to go to select the delicious puff cake, called placites, or the sweet melitutes, whose exquisite and perfumed flour was delicately kneaded with the precious honey of Mount Hymettus. At all events, I was determined not only to taste, but to procure the receipt if I possibly could; and as you know, Eloise, I seldom foil, when determined, the following is a copy.