The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Feed aggregator

  • Pin It

Nonnettes de Dijon

Farine - February 27, 2014 - 10:03am
I grew up with nonnettes although I don't recall that we ever had the "real" thing: my mom had four kids to feed and every single one of us loved nonnettes, so she bought the less expensive oblong ones that came in brightly colored cardboard boxes (to this day, I remember the glistening marmalade heart of the half-eaten one pictured on the lid). But even those were more money that our usual after-school snack of bread and chocolate (I know, we French kids had it rough!), so they were a rare treat.
As it happens, I forgot all about them for decades but last year, while in France, we stopped at an organic grocery store to buy some bread and as I was browsing the aisles leading to the bakery, I saw on a shelf a package of handcrafted-looking nonnettes that looked particularly appealing. I bought it and, believe me when I say this - as a person who famously doesn't really like sweets - I had a moment that was better than Proustian.
While Proust's Narrator recognizes the exact taste of the tea-dunked madeleine he knew in his childhood and embarks on a quest for Time lost, these nonnettes were so much more than the ones I knew growing up that I felt no longing for an elusive past, just a fierce determination not to part with the treat again. Since I couldn't very well go back to Biocoop and buy a truckload to ship home, I resolved to do the next best thing, which is find a recipe and make them myself.
But first I should probably explain that nonnettes (literally "little nuns") are small gingerbread cakes that nuns used to make in the Middle Ages. Although the better-known ones come from Dijon in Burgundy (the nonnettes have nothing to do with mustard, by the way), I believe they are to be found in other regions of France as well. The oblong ones I knew were domed and lightly glazed and the best part of eating them was sinking your teeth into the glaze and feeling the dome collapse over the marmalade heart. I am telling you, there is no way Proust topped that with his (most likely soggy) madeleine.
If you google "nonnettes de Dijon images," you'll see several different variations. The little cakes are indeed often glazed and some are domed. The ones I bought last year were thick, round, flat and unglazed. I personally like the domed ones although I can do flat too and I prefer unglazed. They keep better.
Apparently I can also do hollow, albeit certainly not on purpose!
I asked baker and pastry chef Leslie Mackie, owner of Macrina Bakery in Seattle, why I was getting collapsed centers. She thought it had to do with the leavening and suggested I try using half baking powder half baking soda instead of all baking soda. She also recommended enclosing the marmalade inside the batter instead of putting it on top. So that's what I did and it worked! Thank you, Leslie!
But before I even attempted to bake nonnettes, I browsed through the many recipes online. My favorite one is this one, by blogger Edda Onorato. Edda's blog, Un déjeuner de soleil, is a feast for the eyes and I have known it to do a number on my tastebuds too. So I tend to trust her and I wasn't disappointed. Her recipe is solid.
I did adapt it a bit:
  • By changing the leavening (as explained above). Edda says that in the very old days, nonnettes were made with levain (which might have been the only leavening agent readily available to the nuns). The little cakes must have had a very different texture then and a different bite. I am not sure I would like them that way but I might give it a shot one day out of curiosity because after all, these nuns knew a thing or two
  • By using all whole-grain flours. I don't know much about the history of the nonnettes but, if I were the gambling kind, I'd be willing to bet that, in the Middle Ages, the nuns didn't go for white flour. Taste and texture are spot on with the whole-grain and then there is the satisfaction of knowing that the cakes are more nutritious. I have only used white whole wheat so far but next time I'll use some of the Sonora wheat I bought from Nan Kohler in Los Angeles. That flour is so aromatic that it will probably bring a whole new dimension to the cake
  • By lowering the amount of sugar a bit.
Edda recommends using a blend of cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, anise and ginger. I use Penzey's Baking Spice (Ceylon cinnamon, Spanish anise, Grenadian mace and Guatemalan cardamom) which I like a lot,  probably because it is easy on the cinnamon. I could try with just anise, the only spice I ever use in pain d'épices or go for a touch of cardamom and pair it with some of that caramelized pear jam I made last year or try pairing nutmeg and blackberry jelly or... The possibilities are endless. Which goes to show that, for me, nonnettes are really not about nostalgia. Move over, madeleines, and make way. The future has arrived!

Ingredients
Yields 24 mini-muffin-sized and 16 regular-muffin-sized nonnettes (baked in mini-brioches paper molds)*


For those of you who are using BreadStorm (including the free version), please click on this link to import the formula.  For more on BreadStorm, you may want to read this post.

Method
  1. Turn on the oven to 320°F/160°C
  2. Scale flours, baking soda, baking powder and spices in a large bowl. Whisk until thoroughly blended
  3. Scale honey, sugar, butter and water in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer while stirring with a wooden spoon and turn off the heat
  4. Let the wet mixture cool for a few minutes while you grease (lightly) the mini-muffin pan and prepare 16 muffin-sized paper molds*
  5. Stir wet mixture into dry ingredients until blended (do not over mix)
  6. Pour a dollop of batter in each muffin hole (it shouldn't be more than one third full), place a small spoonful of orange marmalade on top and top with the rest of the batter (the muffin hole shouldn't be more than half full when you are done)
  7. Bake for 15 minutes
  8. Let cool on a rack for a few minutes, then unmold
  9. Enjoy!
Nonnettes keep extremely well in an airtight container. We took two dozens on a very long car trip this winter and the ones that remained were just as fresh and tasty when we arrived at destination as they were when we left. 

* After several batches, we decided that mini-muffin size is really best: perfect for a snack and easy to pack. I am buying another pan. The recipe should then yield 48 nonnettes.
Categories: Blogs, The Bread Feed

Carrot Cake Banana Bread - the best of both worlds - The Ann Arbor News

Google News Bread Feed - February 27, 2014 - 9:40am

Carrot Cake Banana Bread - the best of both worlds
The Ann Arbor News
This weekend, as I worked through end-of-vacation ennui, I pulled myself away from my Google searches for “opening a bed and breakfast on Key West” and got to dreaming up the best banana bread ever. My friend Greg, who often shares the results of his ...

Categories: News

Raisin Bread - Wholefood Simply

Del.icio.us bread feed - February 26, 2014 - 6:07pm
Categories: Links

French Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Del.icio.us bread feed - February 26, 2014 - 1:00pm
Categories: Links

30 Minute Rolls | Real Mom Kitchen

Del.icio.us bread feed - February 26, 2014 - 12:44pm
Categories: Links

Blue Cheese and Bacon Drop Biscuits

Del.icio.us bread feed - February 26, 2014 - 10:20am
Categories: Links

Paczki Recipe | Brown Eyed Baker

Del.icio.us bread feed - February 26, 2014 - 7:47am
Categories: Links

A Brief Guide to Upcoming Los Angeles Communal DIY Bread Bakes - LA Weekly

Google News Bread Feed - February 26, 2014 - 7:46am

LA Weekly

A Brief Guide to Upcoming Los Angeles Communal DIY Bread Bakes
LA Weekly
If you're the sort of person who keeps baker's hours and has already been up, with the mad green parrots, feeding your sourdough starter and measuring out rye and whole wheat flours in coffeespoons, you might want to know about some area bread-baking ...

Categories: News

Almost No Fat Banana Bread

Del.icio.us bread feed - February 26, 2014 - 7:03am
Categories: Links

Various bases can be used for making bread puddings - Spartanburg Herald Journal

Google News Bread Feed - February 26, 2014 - 4:17am

Various bases can be used for making bread puddings
Spartanburg Herald Journal
Recently, when a group was discussing bread puddings, I told them about my Cinnamon Apple Bread Pudding made with cinnamon rolls. I usually buy the big, bakery-type cinnamon rolls with icing. This is one of my most delicious bread puddings, and I serve ...

and more »
Categories: News

German bread vies for UNESCO recognition - Deutsche Welle

Google News Bread Feed - February 26, 2014 - 1:55am

German bread vies for UNESCO recognition
Deutsche Welle
German bread. Nevertheless, back home, the path usually doesn't lead back to a traditional German baker, but rather to a discount bakery or supermarket, which are causing their artisan counterparts a great deal of distress. Unable to compete with the ...

Categories: News

The Great Drama of Artisan Bread Making - Twin Falls Times-News

Google News Bread Feed - February 26, 2014 - 1:01am

Paducah Sun

The Great Drama of Artisan Bread Making
Twin Falls Times-News
Local amateur bakers experienced that quiet drama as a heap of bread dough steadily doubled in size while Vincent Carpenter, baker and co-owner of Bread Werks in Ketchum, taught an artisan bread-making class last Wednesday evening at Rudy's in Twin ...
A healthy, easy, no-knead bread anyone can make at homePaducah Sun
No kneading requiredGloucester Daily Times

all 3 news articles »
Categories: News

Reader Recipe: Zucchini Bread - Sioux City Journal

Google News Bread Feed - February 25, 2014 - 10:03pm

Reader Recipe: Zucchini Bread
Sioux City Journal
Beat eggs until light. Cream eggs with oil and sugar. Gradually add the remaining ingredients. Bake in two floured 9x5 inch loaf pans for 60 minutes at 325°. Can also bake in four floured 3x6 inch pans for 40-50 minutes. Check with toothpick. Copyright ...

and more »
Categories: News

SA's La Panaderia Hopes to Build up Our 'Bread Cultura' - San Antonio Current

Google News Bread Feed - February 25, 2014 - 9:07pm

San Antonio Current

SA's La Panaderia Hopes to Build up Our 'Bread Cultura'
San Antonio Current
There are a few things better than bread—sunshine, puppy breath and a Spurs win come to mind. So, it made sense for the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market to add another bakery to its line up in September of 2013. Owned by brothers David and Jose ...

Categories: News

Pennsylvania Dutch recipes: Bread soup, dried corn pie, onion tart - Allentown Morning Call

Google News Bread Feed - February 25, 2014 - 3:36pm

Pennsylvania Dutch recipes: Bread soup, dried corn pie, onion tart
Allentown Morning Call
Make a layer of sliced stale bread on the bottom of a large casserole pan measuring 9 1/2 by 14 inches. Chop remaining bread into small irregular pieces and reserve. Cover the bread layer with the chopped mushrooms. Combine the grated Gruyere or ...

and more »
Categories: News

Egypt's bread 'smart cards': financial miracle for age-old problem? - Reuters

Google News Bread Feed - February 25, 2014 - 4:14am

Egypt's bread 'smart cards': financial miracle for age-old problem?
Reuters
Authorities who hope to avoid protests over subsidized loaves sold for the equivalent of one U.S. cent have turned to smart cards to try to manage the corrupt and wasteful bread supply chain that has been untouchable for decades. If it succeeds, the ...

and more »
Categories: News

Pages

Subscribe to The Fresh Loaf aggregator