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Bigné, another classic

Not everyone knows that the bigné is an Italian origin dessert. Once again, we need to thank Caterina de' Medici's skilled entourage :).

Bigné is the most classic shape of this dessert; croquembouche, eclair, profiteroles, are slight variations of it in shape and stuffing. Everything began around 1533 when Caterina de' Medici left for France. While travelling, she couldn't leave her foody habits, and she brought with her some cooks from Mugello, a gelato maker from Urbino, and some pastry chefs. It was one of them, a certain Popelini, who in 1540 invented the choux pastry [1], an essential base for éclair, cream puffs and many other sweets.

[1] Eclair. Sweet and savory choux puffs and cakes. Rudolf Rainer, Silvia Rabito, Ed. Giunti

The recipe for the choux pastry seems to date its origins during the Rinascimento at the court of Florence, to be then exported, as previously mentioned, to France in the mid-sixteenth century by the cooks following Caterina de' Medici who was married to the future King Henry II of Valois; the paternity of the preparation is attributed to the Medici head pastry chef Penterelli, perfected by his successor Popelini.

Only at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the recipe took the name of choux pastry, by Jean Avice and Marie-Antoine Carême, presented in a "mound" garnished with caramel (croquembouche) or covered with chocolate (profiteroles).

But enough with the history, I was just sweet-craving, and I needed a memory of the Italian pastry shops.


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