Now that I’m in my third trimester, preparing for the arrival of our sweet baby Charlotte has taken up most of my life–and my reading list. I seem to spend most of my time between bathroom trips reading parenting books, articles, and forums because I have baby on the brain 24/7. I know that there is such a thing as consuming too much advice, and I also know that no amount of reading will fully prepare me for first time motherhood, but reading is my learning style, and I can’t help it!
In my endless pursuit of newborn preparation knowledge, I came across Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. Druckerman, an American and former Wall Street Journal journalist, chronicles her experiences having children in Paris while trying to reconcile her American ideals of pregnancy and parenthood with her French surroundings.
Bringing Up Bébé Summary and Review
In contrast to the lecturing and sometimes scare tactic-peppered parenting media I’m used to reading, this book was a breath of fresh air. Druckerman relays the differences between American and French parenthood from her own experience in an effortless, conversational tone. Where appropriate, she cites relevant scientific studies and data, and she even sprinkles in short biographical profiles of reputable pediatricians. She points out things Americans could learn from the French, and vice versa, but she doesn’t champion one style over the other.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of my favorite themes of French parenting is the emphasis on the dining experience from a very young age. In fact, as soon as children are ready for solid foods, they are taught to appreciate the flavor and texture of each morsel, and as soon as they can talk, parents discuss dishes with their children. According to Druckerman, even the government-sponsored day care centers, the “crèches,” feature a varied, multi-course lunch menu. Mealtimes are taken seriously, quality over quantity is emphasized, and baking is taught as a necessary life skill.
Practically from the time kids can sit up, their moms begin leading them in weekly or biweekly baking projects. These kids don’t just spill some flour and mash a few bananas. They crack eggs, pour in cups of sugar, and mix with preternatural confidence. They actually make the whole cake themselves.Bringing Up Bébé, pg. 63
Now this is commentary on French parenthood according to one person. It by no means reflects every parent’s experience in France or the United States. But it does contain some very interesting thought points, and it’s always wonderful to read someone’s firsthand experience, especially when it’s so well-written.
Gâteau au Yaourt (Yogurt Cake) Recipe
In a very cool move, Druckerman includes a few recipes at the end of select chapters. One of these is the Gâteau au Yaourt, a common cake recipe that serves as many French children’s introduction to baking. It uses six ounce yogurt containers as ingredients as well as measuring utensils. Clever!
Due to the pandemic, we’re trying to avoid stepping foot in grocery stores, and we get our groceries via curbside pickup. Sometimes our local store doesn’t have everything we order, so I wasn’t able to find two six ounce containers of plain whole milk yogurt. Instead, I made due with one six ounce container of cookies and cream full fat yogurt and six ounces of nonfat plain Greek yogurt. It still came out fluffy and tasty!
Gâteau au Yaourt
- 2 6 oz. containers of plain, whole-milk yogurt (use the empty containers to measure the other ingredients)
- 2 eggs
- 2 containers sugar (or just one, depending on how sweet you like things–I used one, and I found it sweet enough)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Just under one container vegetable oil
- 4 containers flour
- 1½ tsps baking powder
- crème fraîche (optional)
- frozen berries or chocolate chips (optional–I used about 5 oz. of chocolate chips)
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Use vegetable oil to grease a 9-inch round cake pan or loaf pan.
- Gently combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and oil.
- Separately, mix together the flour and baking powder.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Be sure not to over mix.
- If you like, add in berries, chocolate chips, or any other flavoring.
- Bake for 35 minutes. Bake for 5 more if the cake doesn’t pass the knife test. It should be almost crispy on the outside and springy on the inside.
Definitely can’t wait to give this one a try with Charlotte! <3
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