Sunday, May 21, 2017

Writing About French Pastry by Milou Koenings

Have you ever noticed that books can be fattening?

Mini eclairs by Camillestyles
Yes, I get that all those hours I spend reading, I'm not moving — even if I am traveling to exotic places half a world away. But I meant in more direct way. For example, the most fattening movie I ever saw was Julie & Julia.

I never, and I mean never, ate butter if I could help it — until I saw that movie. If you've never seen it, it's really two stories in one: modern-day Julie who decides she's going to cook her way through Julia Child's cookbook in one year and blog about it, and Julia Child herself, learning to cook in post-war Paris. Watch it and you'll never look at butter the same way. 

Honestly, I owe at least five extra pounds to Meryl Streep and Julia Childs.

For some reason, I've never written a book in which someone isn't cooking or baking. My characters have made spaghetti, baked apple pies, barbequed, and shared gingersnaps. But none of them have ever been professional cooks. However, not long ago, a delightfully sweet reader reviewed my latest release, I Love You Three, by comparing it to a mille-feuille French pastry.

I kept thinking about that delicious review and had a brainstorm. My next heroine was going to be a French pastry chef!

This is the first time I'm writing a character who is a professional baker. In my work in progress — another Green Pines romance — the heroine is a French-American pastry chef who studied in Paris.

Mille-feuille - from Bloglovin on Pinterest

Since I spent much my childhood school vacations living above my uncle's bakery, I figured that shouldn't take too much research. I have a pretty good idea of how a bakery works. I might have tried to swing a trip to Paris as work-related research, but since I took my daughters to Paris about five years ago, I knew a repeat wasn't going to be in the cards.

The pastry case of the bakery that
 my kids and I frequented for breakfast in Paris.

But the problem is that a pastry chef has to be making something, right? I can't just write, "Bailey was kneading something." It's got to be a particular kind of dough, and she's got to be making a specific pastry.

Eclairs ... croissants ...

Check out this croissant tutorial from Ironwhisk!

Profiteroles ...

Profiteroles by Beeta Hashempour

Madeleines ...

Orange-blossom Madeleines from Bakingamoment

Of course, I can't possibly write about baking something if I haven't made it. How else will I know what my character is doing, correct?

Palmiers ... brioche ... puits d'amour

(As a self-respecting Romance writher, I can't possibly not make a pastry called a "well of love," can I?)


This is going to be one very fattening book.

Milou Koenings is a USA Today bestselling author. She writes romance because, like chocolate, stories with a happy ending bring more joy into the world and so make it a better place.

Her other Green Pines sweet romances, Reclaiming Home, The Kampala Peppermint Twist and Sweet Blizzard are available on, iBooks, Nook, Kobo and all your favorite e-book retailers.

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  1. So fun, (and delicious!) sounding, Milou! Keep us posted.

  2. They sound delicious. I think adding food to books just makes it that more attractive and pastries, well, that's my weakness. So, I'm looking forward to this one.

    1. We should have a virtual pastry tea party. Although I guess this was one! ;)

  3. Oh my, what a scrumptious post! And congrats on that delicious review, Milou!

    1. Thanks, Liwen! Wasn't that a creative review? It would never have occurred to me to compare a book to a pastry!