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We are aware of the constant rumours and concerns whether you can travel to Europe this summer for holidays so we thought that it would be helpful if we set out the position as we understand it and the advice we are giving to holidaymakers enquiring about availability of properties.

Key dates for UK Nationals

For UK nationals the key dates at the moment are:

  • 12th April 2021 - when the UK Government Task Force is expected to announce when travel will re-open
  • 17th May 2021 - based on present UK Government statements this is the earliest date that travel will re-open

EU Nationals and Other

The EU has not been as transparent as the UK but is likely to make its position clear within the same timescale as above for UK nationals.  We anticipate similar clarification for non EU nationals.

What restrictions on travel will there be?

Obviously we cannot be certain but we regard it as highly likely that entry of a foreign national to an EU county will as a minimum require evidence of a negative Covid test at least 72 hours before travel or evidence of vaccination.

We also believe that at least on an EU basis some form of required vaccination passport will become the norm sooner rather than later.   It is also possible that individual countries will negotiate separate gateway conditions between each other for the own nationals.

Pressure on Availability

If you are considering a booking with us, please be aware that in effect two years are being telescoped into one because 2020 was in effect a total write off for many owners and holidaymakers alike.  As the rules on travel come clearer we expect to see real pressure on availability so if you are in a position to book now that may turn out to be a wise move

We expect there to be a constant steam of news concerning travel restrictions in the next few weeks and we will of course keep you informed of any significant changes.  In the meantime, if you have any specific queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch.


 
 
Next week on Tuesday 02nd February it is "La Chandeleur" (Le jour des Crêpes) in France but what does La Chandeleur means: It is considered the last cycle of the Christmas celebration. So in religious tradition, Christians were only meant to clear the Christ’s manger scene after la Chandeleur. To find out more about the religious side of things, read our other article on La Chandeleur here.
 
Nowadays, la Chandeleur is mostly known as the day of the crêpes. It’s a day when families and friends all make crêpes and enjoy them together
 
Find below a recipe for your crêpes
 
Ingredients
  • 140g plain flour
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted, plus a little extra for greasing

Method

  • Step 1 - Sift the flour with a pinch of salt into a medium-size bowl and make a well in the middle. Mix the milk and 100ml of water together. Break the eggs into the well and start whisking slowly. Add the milk and water in a steady stream, whisking constantly and gradually incorporating the flour as you do so.
  • Step 2 - Whisk until the batter is smooth and all the flour has been incorporated. Set the batter aside to rest for 30 mins, then whisk the melted butter into the batter.
  • Step 3 - Heat the pan over a medium heat. Very lightly grease the pan with melted butter. Using a ladle, pour roughly 2 tbsp of batter into the pan and swirl it around so the bottom of the pan is evenly coated. You want to use just enough batter to make a delicate, lacy pancake. Cook the pancake for about 45 secs on one side until golden and then using a palette knife or fish slice, flip the pancake over and cook the other side for about 30 secs until it freckles.
  • Step 4 - Slide the pancake out of the pan and either serve immediately or stack on a plate with baking parchment in between. Continue until all the batter is used up.

The Far Bretion is a prune flan recipe from the Bretagne (Brittany) area. You serve it in the oven dish warm if you wish. It is very easy to make, you can even use different kinds of fruit if you wish.

Ingredients serves 8

  • 250g pitted prunes
  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 750ml full fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar


How to make it

Preparation:15min 
Cooking: 40min
Ready: 55min 

  • Preheat the oven to 240 C / Gas 9.
  • Grease a shallow, 2-litre baking dish.
  • Put the prunes whitout stones in a saucepan with just enough water and the rum to cover, then simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. The prunes should be tender but should still hold their shape. Drain the prunes, then place them in the base of the prepared dish.
  • Combine the flour, sugar, vanilla sugar,baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Gradually add the milk to the mixture, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until combined. Pour the batter over the prunes, trying not to displace them too much.
  • Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then for a further 30 minutes at 200 C / Gas 6, or until the top is browned and the filling is firm and has risen a little.

Serve warm in the baking dish or at room temperature.

A Great French Tradition: The “Galette Des Rois” is a puff pastry pie filled with frangipane, tradionally eaten/served on Epiphany, the day the Three Kings visited the baby Jesus.

Ingredients

  • 400g ready-made puff pastry
  • 75g softened butter
  • 75g sugar, icing
  • 1 lighly beaten egg
  • 75g ground almond
  • 1 tbsp cognac or dark rum

Method

  • Step 1
    Rolling out the circles of pastry:
    Lightly-flour your work surface then, with a rolling pin, roll out the puff pastry into two sheets of pastry – 35cm x 22.5cm, cut a 20cm circle for the base from one sheet and a 22cm circle for the top out of the other sheet; refrigerate for a minimum of 1hour to firm up the pastry and prevent any retraction whilst cooking.
  • Step 2
    Making the almond cream:
    In a large bowl, whisk all the ingredients together and mix to a smooth texture; reserve in the fridge.
  • Step 3
    Making the Galette:
    Place one disc of pastry on a baking sheet. Spoon the almond cream into the centre then, with a palette knife, spread the cream into an even circle leaving a 4cm edge around.
    Brush the beaten egg yolk and water mixture around the 4cm edge and carefully drape the other circle of pastry neatly on top. Press gently on the edge to seal the pastry.
    With the back of a knife, score the outside edge of the pastry all around. This will completely seal the two rounds of pastry and also give an attractive presentation.
    Chill or deep freeze the galette for 1 hour to firm up the pastry and with a sharp knife, trim the edge of the galette to an even circle so that it rises evenly.
    With the back of a knife crimp the outside edge of the pastry all around.
    Here you can use your artistic flair.
  • Step 4
    Scoring the Galette and egg washing:
    Preheat the oven to 180°C .
    Brush the Galette with beaten egg yolk.
    With the side of a fork or back of a knife, start from the centre of the Galette and score a spiral right up to the edge of the pastry. Repeat this to achieve an attractive design.
  • Step 5
    Cooking the Galette:
    Cook in the preheated oven at 180°C for 45 minutes.
    Leave it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Bon Appétit

French desserts – they’re world renowned, world class and mouth-wateringly delicious.

For the times when you can’t be in France but fancy a sweet treat that’s easy to make at home, here are they’re easy to make..

Tarte Reine Claude

This classic French plum tart is fit for royalty, made with greengage plums, known as reine claude (Queen Claude) in France…

Ingredients

1 packet of puff pastry

1.2 kg of plums (greengage)

4 tablespoons almond powder

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 190 ° C.

Wash the plums and pit them.

Line a buttered tin with the rolled out puff pastry. It can be quite thick as it soaks up the juice from the plums. Pick the bottom with a fork. Sprinkle the almond powder evenly over the pastry.

Cut the plums in half and arrange them skin side up over the pastry. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake for about 30 minutes. It’s done when you see the plums are caramelised on top!

Serve with vanilla ice cream or Chantilly cream with some grated orange zest…..

Chouquettes

Deliciously simple, moreish little snacks…

Ingredients for 35 chouquettes

25 cl of water

1 tablespoon caster sugar (10g)

5g salt (level teaspoon)

100g butter (cut into cubes)

150 g flour

4 medium eggs

Sugar crystals

Preheat the oven to 200 ° C (Gas Mark 7) and line a tray with baking paper.

Heat the water, salt, sugar and butter in a saucepan stirring constantly. When the butter is completely melted and the liquid brought to a boil remove from the heat.

Pour in the flour in one go and mix with a wooden spoon over a low heat until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.

Remove from the heat, add the eggs one at a time and mix well.

Place a tablespoon of dough on the baking sheet and leave plenty of space in between for them to rise. Sprinkle the crystal sugar over the dough mounds.

Cook for 15 minutes then lower the thermostat to 175 ° C (Gas mark 6) and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Blackberry and apple clafoutis

You might have had cherry clafoutis but this versatile dessert works well with strawberries too and apple with blackberry!

Ingredients: Serves 4-6

400g apples

125g blackberries

250g crème fraîche

50ml whole milk

Seeds of 1 vanilla pod

3 eggs

100g all-purpose flour

60g fine sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a rectangular baking dish of approx. 26 x 18.5cm with butter.

Peel, core and chop the apples. Spread them over the baking dish together with the blackberries.

To make the batter:

In a large bowl, whisk the crème fraîche, milk and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, flour and sugar. Add to the cream, eggs and vanilla and whisk well.

Pour the batter over the fruit and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Delicious warm or cold, it goes well with ice cream!

Serves 8 – Preparation – 40 mins – Cooking Time – 10 mins

Ingredients Required

For the sponge biscuit Genoise)

4 Egg whites, organic or free range
60g Sugar, caster
4 Egg yolks, organic or free range
60g Plain flour
15g Butter, unsalted, melted

For the butter cream:

70g Sugar, caster
50ml Water
3 Egg yolks, organic or free range
240g Butter, unsalted, room temperature
30ml Dark Rum
200g Candied chestnuts, roughly chopped (plus a few whole ones for decoration)

For the soaking syrup:

40g Sugar, caster
40ml Water
25ml Dark Rum

Step 1 - For the sponge biscuit

Pre heat the oven to 180˚C.

In a food mixer on full speed, whip the egg whites while gradually adding the sugar until they reach soft peaks. Reduce the speed to medium and whisk in the egg yolks.

Remove the bowl from the machine and sieve in half the flour and with a spatula gently into the whipped egg whites. Repeat for the remaining flour trying to keep as much air as possible in the mixture.

Pour in the melted butter and mix.

Line your pastry tray with silicone paper. Place a little of the mixture under each corner of the paper to secure it to the tray and pour in the mixture.

Using a small palette knife, spread to 1cm thickness.

Cook in the pre-heated oven for 10 minutes, until a light golden colour is reached and it springs back to the touch.

Remove from the oven and leave on a wire rack to cool.

Step 2 - For the butter cream

In a small saucepan bring the sugar and water to 121˚C.

Using a whisking machine, whisk the yolks and the 30ml of water for 5 minutes on full speed until light and aerated. Turn down to a medium speed and pour the sugar syrup halfway down on the side of the bowl, making sure it is away from the whisk otherwise it will simply spray the hot sugar syrup around the bowl rather than onto the egg yolks. This hot sugar syrup will partially cook the egg yolks giving you a silky, stable sabayon.

Reduce the speed to medium and leave in the machine for 3 minutes to allow the mixture to cool to around 35˚C.

On a slow speed, add the rum then gradually add the soft, room temperature butter.

Whisk on full speed for 3 minutes to generate a little more lightness and volume. At this stage you can add the chopped chestnuts.

Reserve one third for filling the Bûche and the rest will be for decoration.

Step 3 - To build the Bûche

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to the boil, then take off the heat and add the rum.

Using a pastry brush, evenly soak the sponge.

Place the sponge upside down onto a clean tea towel and peel away the greaseproof paper.

Spread one third of the butter cream over the soaked sponge, then roll the sponge into a tight roll 30cm long. Start by folding over the top edge towards you by about 1cm then use this to roll the log up, making sure that it is tight all the way through.

Wrap the log into a cylinder shape and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Unwrap the Bûche and place it on a serving dish or cake board. Carefully trim each end to give you a straight side.

Evenly spread the remaining butter cream all over and, using a fork, mark the cream to give the impression of a log. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step 4 - To serve

Dust with a little cocoa powder, Slice the end off the Bûche and place it in the middle on top so you can see the inside of the Bûche and give a sawn-off log effect.

Garnish with a few chocolate flakes by scraping your knife down the length of your chocolate bar. Add a few whole sweetened chestnuts.





 

Brioche has been a staple of French cooking for hundreds of years. All that practice makes perfect!

Brioche is made as buns or a loaf and is great with butter and jam and even spready with a soft cheese. It’s the ultimate snack food for the French – a sort of cakey-bread. Here’s a recipe for brioche for you to make at home:

Ingredients for one brioche loaf

220g plain flour

1 tablespoon caster sugar

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Pinch of salt

2 large eggs, beaten

60 ml whole milk, warmed

75g unsalted butter cubed, room temperature

Few drops of vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

Method

1. Mix the yeast with the warm milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar and leave for 10 minutes in a warm place. You’ll see that the yeast will become frothy.

2. Sift the flour into a large bowl with the salt and the rest of the sugar, add the yeast mix, 2 beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Mix on a low speed. When the dough starts to clump together, swap the paddle attachment for a dough hook and mix for 2 minutes until the dough is firm and elastic.

3. Add half the butter at little bit at a time while the mixer is set to a medium-low speed. Fold the dough over on itself so you get the butter thoroughly mixed in. Then add the remaining butter as before and mix for 3 minutes at medium-low speed.

4. Scrape the dough hook and the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix again until the dough is smooth, soft and shiny, about three minutes. You’ll hear the dough slap against the sides of the bowl when it’s ready. Do the “windowpane test” – take a small ball of dough, flatten it and gently stretch. If it doesn’t break but is thin enough to see through – you’re ready.

5. Put the dough into a clean bowl and cover it with oiled cling film and leave to rise in draught-free place for 1 to 1.5 hours or until doubled in size.

Then take the dough, give it a punch several times to expel the air and knead lightly for 2 minutes.

6. Shape the dough into a rectangle and put it in a buttered loaf tin. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm, draught-free spot until doubled in size, usually about 30 minutes up to an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C, (400˚F/Gas Mark 6)

7. Brush the top of the brioche with the beaten egg and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top of the brioche is a rich, golden brown.

If you want to create the traditional “bubble shape”, when the dough has risen, make cuts with a sharp pair of scissor. Snip three times on each side and twice at each end. The cuts should be about 1 inch deep. This allows the brioche to rise around the cuts.

8. Turn the loaf out and it sounds hollow when you tap the bottom – it’s done! Put it back in the tin upside-down to crisp the base for 5 minutes

Leave to cool and then feast on your brioche loaf. It’s very moreish and utterly delicious.

More delicious French recipes on the blog:

Moules Frites – the ubiquitous taste of summer at the seaside in France…

Pancakes – French crepes – here’s a fail proof recipe…

Gougères – cheesy balloons that everyone loves…