July 09, 2011

Une apologie aux masculin et feminin

Une apologie (an apology) in French is a discourse which defends or justifies a person or a doctrine. It is not to excuse oneself. So I'll not excuse myself for making an unforgivable error in my last post.

Une moule is a mussel, a shellfish. Un moule is a pan in which one bakes or makes other types of formed foods.
What I bought recently was UN MOULE -- a springform pan, not UNE MOULE -- a mussel. I bet Amazon Com would have had trouble sending me a mussel.

There are nouns in French, which in the masculine gender mean one thing, and in the feminine mean another. There aren't a ton of these tricksters, but they do exist. Just one little example: un manche à balai (the handle of a broom) and une manche à chemise (a shirt sleeve).

I will NEVER get this masculine and feminine business straight. Whenever I use a noun in French, it's pretty much a crap shoot whether I'll get the gender right. My French friend, Mag, assures me that it's not that big of a deal, but she knows the difference. ARGHHHH!!!

Yesterday morning, we went out to a u-pick fruit farm. I went specifically for blueberries (myrtilles). And, I got strawberries (fraises) and blueberries. I didn't get any pictures while we were picking. But it was a lovely, cool morning. The strawberries were 4€ the kilo and the blueberries, 3.50€. I wound up with 2 kilos of strawberries and 3.25 kilos of blueberries.

I didn't want to make jam, so I froze the blueberries for later use. The strawberries I used to make a sauce for my upcoming birthday cheesecake. And I tried a recipe I found on Internet for a strawberry cake. My springform pan arrived today, so I wanted to give it a dry run.

Ready for the freezer

A little crispy around the edges.

Strawberry Cake

Yield: Serves 10 Cook Time: 50-55 minutes


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (90 grams)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup of crème fraîche)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced (I used 500 grams, which is a little more than a pound)

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, for sprinkling on top of cake


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan or pie plate. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined.

3. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Arrange strawberry slices on top of batter. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over berries.

4. Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 50-55 minutes. Let cool in pan. To serve, cut into wedges. Store cake at room temperature, for up to two days.

I should have gently mixed the berries into the batter, because being on top allowed them to dry and burn on the edges.

Adapted from Martha Stewart


Jo said...

Wow, that is technical, Dedene. Imagine the confusion between a broom handles and a shirt sleeve. Or a mussel and a springform pan. I sure am glad your pan arrived - it could have been smelly if it was a mussel! What a delicious looking Strawberry Cheese Cake. I will look out for your birthday post! Blessings, Jo

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Crispy around the edges so what, it looks delicious. Masculine and feminine unless obvious are a complete mystery to me...... Diane

Craig said...

I was always lost with the m-f thing in France! Your cake looks delicious - and I like a bit of crisp around the edge :)

Annette said...

That masculine/feminine thing is crazy and like you it seems like half the time I am guessing at gender. My French friend, Sylvie, says the same as yours - it doesn't matter but it bothers me. I like to get things right! It makes me feel better that you still have the problem after living there for a number of years.

The Broad said...

And then sometimes you have to remember that with some adjectives the meaning changes depending on whether it appears before or after the noun, e.g.: 'drole' before means funny as in odd, and 'drole' after means funny as in ha ha! -- or is it the other way around? ;-)

the fly in the web said...

No point worrying about mussels and moulds...I like to get things right too, but not to the point of worrying about it.

And blow and blast...I nearly bought strawberries on the feria this morning...if I'd read your post earlier I'd have been making that cake!

Rob-bear said...

Some may pan your French, but the food from the pan looks awesome!
Formidable! Way to go!

Annette said...

Thanks for popping by my poetry blog - my other blog might be more interesting to you. We just returned from France and I've posted pictures from that. It's http://aspenmeadows.blogspot.com/

Nadege said...

Dedene, I even didn't noticed you wrote "une moule" instead of "un moule". (Imagine learning german, which uses feminin for something that would be masculin in french).
Facebook sent me a notice that your birthday is next thursday. Maybe Monsieur Titi will cook a special meal?

Dedene said...

Nadege, both Monsieur Titi's and my birthdays are next week. We're planning our luncheon right now.

Megan said...

I think you have to be born French to be able to "feel" the difference in whether le chaisse or la chaisse is the correct term. The rest of just have to just memorize it.

Vagabonde said...

I looked at your moule and in my mind I read un moule and did not notice that you had used “une” instead. I guess my eyes made the correction before my brain. You asked if I would go and visit an expat from my country. Well, if I knew of a French person near me in Georgia – I would not go and meet him/her without knowing a bit about them and be invited. But if him or her were a blogger, that would make all the difference and I would go. The blogging part would take over being French and comme il faut. Your strawberry cake looks très appétisant by the way.

claude said...

Je n'avais même pas fait attention à ta faute. J'ai lu UN moule à charnière et non UNE moule marinière !!!
Quand tu penses qu'en allemand il y a trois articles. : le masculin, le fémnin et le neutre et bien sûr le pluriel. Il y a des mots qui sont masculins chez nous et féminins en Allemand comme tu peux avoir des noms fémimins ou masculins chez nous et qui sont neutres en allemand. C'est un vrai casse tête chinois, d'aurant que les pluriels des noms sont différents ; et je ne te parles des déclinaisons !
. Mon anglais n'est pas correct mais mon allemand encore moins . il est même nul.
Sympa ton gateau aux fraises !

Flo de Sendai said...

Miam miam, ca a l'air absolument DELICIEUX !

Jesse said...

Hi Dedene,

I wish I live in France so I could ask you for a slice of that pie!

The same is true with Spanish as you know, and it is a real drag sometimes trying to remember all the feminine and masculine tones...LOL

I have a tag and award for you, Click on this link when you have time to take your award


Barbara said...

Hi Dedene,
Your recipe sounds delish!

I am one of those city people who thinks that these "self-serve" fruit farms sound cool! I would think much cheaper than the supermarchés.

Have a great weekend!

Flo said...

You have to listen to Roland Magdane, he's a one-man show/comic/actor and it's called "feminin/masculin mode d'emploi", it's all about it!

Here's a link on youtube:
If you can't click just google: Roland Magdane and the title "masculin/feminin mode d'emploi". You're gonna love it!

Your cake looks delish (as usual!)