French baking secrets: A Gabriel Gaté-inspired office bake-off

Become a French patissier: WIN 1 of 3 copies of '100 Best Cakes & Desserts' - My French Life - Ma Vie Francaise -

It was a pleasure to interview Gabriel Gaté recently but when I was asked to review his newest cookbook, ‘100 Best Desserts & Cakes’, I was panicked for a few reasons:

1)   I can’t bake

2)   I have virtually no baking equipment even if I could bake

3)   Surely any Gabriel Gaté recipe is far too sophisticated for any novice baker, non?


A solution to baking-phobia


Luckily, a work colleague of mine came up with a brilliant idea. Our office would have a bake-off. Each of us would choose a recipe from the book, bring our baked goods into work and be judged according to a scorecard.

This was a genius idea on a number of levels.

Firstly, I wouldn’t have to spend hours in the kitchen, splattering eggs all over the walls and wrestling with uncooperative dough. I could get others to do that for me.

Secondly, I could get everyone’s feedback and a wide variety of recipes throughout the book could be properly reviewed.

Being a French chef is easy!

In his introduction, Gabriel puts his readers at ease by simply telling them to ‘be easy on yourself – if your first try at a new recipe is not perfect, you will usually master it after a second or third attempt’. Amen.


This book is all about using fresh, seasonal fruits with your desserts.

Having grown up in France’s Loire Valley with 50 fruit trees in his garden, Gabriel is nostalgic when it comes to fresh fruit.

When I interviewed Gabriel, he said that he believed that in Australia we don’t make the most of our fresh fruit in desserts enough. This is why he decided to write this fabulous book.

Fresh, fruity & français


The book is split into seven sections: cakes, tarts and pies, crèmes and mousses, fruits, sorbets and ice creams, hot desserts and basics.

Stunning photos, which will have your mouth watering before you get past the contents section, accompany most recipes and each one is set out simply with easy-to-follow steps.

Almost every recipe contains fresh fruit, which makes you feel better about eating so much crème/butter/chocolate etc. Along with many of the French classics, such as tarte tartin and crème brûlée, there are also many modern, summery desserts: frozen chococcino soufflés, blood orange mousse and chocolate and Cointreau ice cream.

The Gaté-inspired bake-off


Below are a few highlights of the office bake-off:

1. The Pavlova with Exotic Fruits: Deliciously light and fluffy, with crunchy meringue and beautifully ripe fruit on top, this classic dessert was the clear winner of the day, and according to the chef, surprisingly easy to make.

2. The Chocolate Tart: This tart was amazingly rich, with light, crumbly pastry. It is probably not one for beginners but certainly worth building up your skills for.

3. Apricot and Almond Cake: this was my dessert and I don’t want to boast but it tasted delicious. For a novice chef, it restored some confidence in my baking abilities and it took no more than an hour.

The final verdict?

Not only were the desserts delicious, they were all relatively simple to make. There were no horror stories to report and each cake was devoured in a matter of minutes.


This book is great for people of any level of baking expertise, and as Gabriel says in his introduction:

‘Dessert making is an exciting and creative hobby. It’s a satisfying way to spend an hour or two in the kitchen, and your family and friends will love you for it’.

Alors, dépêchez-vous!  Achetez le livre et commencez la cuisson!

Want your chance to become a French baking champion? MaVieFrançaise™ are offering members the chance to win a copy of ‘100 best cakes & desserts’. 

Stay tuned for details…

Image credits:
3, 4. & 6. Penelope Moodie
All others courtesy of Hardie Grant Publishing

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Penny Moodie

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