A Little Piece of Mine

Sugar High: La Bûche de Noël de Lenôtre

Trust pastry powerhouse Lenôtre to whip up with a cake that is (almost) too beautiful to eat. In a nod to the 400th anniversary of Versailles garden wizard Andre Le Notre, the 2013 bûche de Noël is part flower plot, veggie patch, orchard, parterre – and above all dessert! Mother earth is biscuity layers of creamy chocolate, almond praline and puff pastry. Pistachio macarons double as topiary trees, sugary pines stand to attention in marzipan planters. A glassy sugar roof spans the sweestest greenhouse collection ever:  a mini lemon tree, a straw hat complete with ribbon, a watering can, a palette of tomatoes, a wedding cake, an apple kouglof, and a croquembouche (it’s a French hothouse afterall!). Lenôtre enlisted the help of the debonair Louis Albert de Brogile, aka the “Le Prince Jardinier, in fashioning the cake. The Prince grows some 650 varieties of tomato at the Château de la Bourdaisière, his manor/hotel in the Loire, and the humble fruit features in the compote that accompanies the bûche, while the choc base is a childhood memory. The ex-banker, sporting country gentleman’s red, also provided the dessert’s launch pad in Deyrolle, a much loved curiosity shop in Paris housing stuffed polar bears, giraffes and parrots, mounted beetles, butterflies, crabs and lobsters. Under the gaze of wild beasts, Lenôtre chefs dished up zingy tomato salad, ceviche, and garden-fresh canapés, while beaming pâtissiers in an ivy curtained room at the rear served a steady supply of sweet dreams, including slices of their Christmas log. Admittedly, September seems a little early to be thinking about Christmas, but then the way this year is whizzing past, probably not. The bûche de Noël de Lenôtre will be available to order from 13 December (www.lenotre.com/0811 656 656) at €120 for 8-10 people. Put it first on Santa’s wish list.

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