I’ve been looking forward to sharing the most recent French Coffee Table books to join my personal library. From cookbooks featuring all sorts of baked treats Sweet Paris, Gateau, and Simple French Baking, to the art of creating stunning floral arrangements in French Blooms and entertaining in Joie, this list includes four must-have titles that belong in the library of any francophile.
Frank Adrian Barron
A dazzling cookbook featuring 59 seasonal dessert recipes with American and French influences, accompanied by exquisite photographs and tips on serving and hosting with French flair for any occasion, from a casual afternoon teatime to an intimate dinner party to a festive holiday gathering.
Moving to Paris in the winter of 2012, California native Frank Adrian Barron reveled in exploring his new city. Exploring Paris’s different arrondissements, he would sample the assortment of patisseries on offer in each—Madeleines, macarons, éclairs, Paris-Brest, mont-blancs, and other sweet, buttery delicacies.
But as much as he loved these delicate confections, he eventually found himself longing for a taste of home. To satisfy his cravings, he began recreating in his Paris kitchen the classic desserts he’d enjoyed growing up in Southern California—childhood favorites like his mom’s signature Cinnamon Brown Sugar Bundt Cake, Lemon Bars, and classic American-style layer cakes. When word of his delicious desserts spread, Frank went from hosting intimate afternoon cake parties for friends to baking for local cafes. Soon he was known best for making French desserts inspired by American ingredients and American desserts with bit of French flair. His profile rose with notice from French and American publications, including Time Out Paris, Bake from Scratch, and Fou de Pâtisserie, and soon, Frank was hosting cake decorating workshops in his Marais apartment, accepting commissions, and developing a devoted following as @cakeboyparis on Instagram.
In Sweet Paris, Frank brings together the best elements of French style and American baking. Inspired by the tradition of l’heure du goûter, a daily French tradition similar to British teatime, and autour de la table, the idea of gathering around the table with good friends and delicious food, Sweet Paris is a love letter to the sublime world of desserts and the City of Light. Here are 59 recipes for irresistible baked goods, organized by season, using the peak fruits and flavors of each, including:
Spring—Cherry Blossom Financiers, Coconut Pineapple Layer Cake, Rhubarb Tart, Very Vanilla Cake
Summer—Strawberry Tart, Chocolate Cherry Layer Cake, Lavender Honey Madeleines, Pavlova with Summer Berries
Fall—Mirabelle Upside Down Cake, Apple Cardamom Tea Cake, Praline All Day Cake, Gâteau Opera
Winter—Medjool Date Cake in Orange Caramel Sauce, White Chocolate and Cassis Bûche de Noël, Lemon Meringue Cake, Blood Orange Mini Bundts, Alsatian Gingerbread
In addition, Frank offers tips and advice for becoming a quintessential Parisian host, including creating stunning floral arrangements, creating the perfect cheese plate, setting the table with French flair, and much more. Illustrated with Joann Pai’s gorgeous photographs, this wonderful cookbook and style guide delivers a taste of sweet Paris no matter where you are.
This first book by Sandra Sigman, award-winning floral designer and owner of Les Fleurs, presents arranging flowers in the French style—bouquets that are chic and romantic.
As Sandra Sigman learned while living in Paris in her twenties, the French consider each floral arrangement a unique work of art filled with passion, movement, texture, and surprise. In French Blooms, Sigman shares the distinct design principles she learned from her favorite Parisian florist, and offers tutorials, with images and instructions for creating French-inspired arrangements for different areas of the home. Projects include a mantle display in Ironstone gravy boats, compote-style dining room arrangements, powder room posies, and beribboned hand-tied bouquets. With chapters on choosing the right containers—from vintage stoneware crocks to baskets and white ceramic footed vases—and flower care and tools, along with lush photographs, many taken in Paris, Normandy, and Provence, this book is both inspirational and practical. It’s also a love letter to France—from Parisian sophistication to the simple grace of provincial life.
Embrace the joy of Paris wherever you live with American expat Ajiri Aki, founder of the French lifestyle brand Madame de la Maison.
“More than being a terrific guide to the city, it’s a thoroughly comprehensive guide to better living.”—Chioma Nnadi, editor of Vogue online
The French are known for their joie de vivre—celebrating the simple things—a philosophy that tastemaker Ajiri Aki embraced all of her American life. As a child, she frequently tried to convince her Nigerian-Jamaican mother to pull out the fine china for everyday meals or when hosting friends. Her mother always said she was waiting for a special occasion, which sadly never came before she passed away when Ajiri was only twelve. Ajiri promised herself she would never hesitate to use her treasured pieces. When she moved to Paris, France, as an adult, she learned how central that idea is to French life, and she also began to absorb other essential lessons from her new friends: treat yourself to fresh flowers just because, take time to source the best baguette, and perhaps most importantly, enjoy être—just being.
In this beautifully photographed volume of everything French, Ajiri shares what she’s learned about living in Paris—from hosting the perfect apéro (happy hour) to lingering around town like a flâneur (loafer) to thrifting for antiques at the market. While exploring the prettiest cafes and shops, you’ll be inspired to reclaim your right to leisure as the French have, so you, too, can savor the spontaneous, joyful moments that happen every day.
The Great British Bakeoff alumni and winner of the NYE 2023 special, Manon Lagrève, shares over 80 French classics — simplified or with a twist — for the modern baker.
In her debut cookbook Simple French Baking, Manon proves that elegant French baking does not have to be difficult or pretentious to make. With just a few basic pieces of baking equipment and Manon’s secret short-cuts, you too can master the French pastries and desserts of your dreams. This is a collection of her favorite family recipes, many of which were handed down by her mother and grandmothers, and are perfect for sharing with the people you love.
Whether you want to perfect the classics such as brioche, éclairs and macarons or whip up a galette or a clafoutis after a mid-week meal, there’s something for every baker and palate. French baking can be chic and simple, and whatever your baking skill, Manon will show you how.
James Beard Award–winning writer Aleksandra Crapanzano shares the secrets of the cakes Parisians bake at home, from the simplest yogurt cakes to a deceptively easy bûche de Noël, from yuzu madeleines to boozy flourless chocolate confections.
When we think of French desserts, we tend to imagine ornate creations and confections. Perhaps we envision a tarte Tatin, but rarely a homemade cake, whipped up on a weeknight with little fuss. But that is exactly what Parisians make and eat. Gâteaux are simple, delicious cakes, both sweet and savory, served to family and friends.
As food-columnist Aleksandra Crapanzano spent time in Parisian home kitchens, she realized that the real magic is a certain savoir-faire, that distinctly French know-how that blends style and functionality in every aspect of life. By and large, the French do not try to compete with their chefs, nor with their boulangeres and patissieres. But many Parisians are natural cooks, and most finish dinner with a little something sweet, effortlessly made and casually served. The trick is having an arsenal of recipes that, once mastered, become blueprints, allowing for myriad variations, depending on what’s in season and what’s in the cupboard. It is a practical approach, and the French are nothing if not practical. That is the savoir-faire—from tying a silk scarf just so to popping a gateau in the oven without anyone even noticing. When you know what you’re doing, there’s no need to overthink it. It looks easy because it is easy.
While the Paris culinary world is experiencing a fresh vibrancy, certain traditions remain intact yet may surprise in their modernity. For example, French cakes have less sugar. The pure taste of apples is not masked by cinnamon, and vanilla is never a given. A gateau may be lightly glazed, dusted with cocoa or confectioners’ sugar, drizzled with rose water, but rarely heavily iced. A splash of brandy, a squeeze of lemon or a thin blanket of ganache elevates even the easiest of cakes in mere minutes. And then there are savory cakes made with cheese, herbs, ham, baked into a delicious loaf. These cakes salés are ideal for picnic lunches, accompanied by a salad and a glass of Sancerre. Gâteau includes cakes for birthdays, summer feasts and winter holidays, last-minute dinner parties and school lunches, as well as beloved regional recipes and guest contributions from superstar Parisian bakers.
Practical, simple, and filled with over 100 rigorously tested recipes and charming illustrations, Gâteau celebrates every day and sometimes fanciful French cakes in all their glory.