French Baking Glossary – Show off your French speaking skills at your next dinner party!


French Terms  – English definition [1]

These terms came from It’s pretty fun to visit the blog, all in French, because when you click on the “Au levain in ENGLISH” it automatically translates the site to English using the Google translator!

ajouter     to add     
alveolée     with lots of holes     
le     apprêt     second fermentation     
la     autolyse     autolyse, enzymatic rest     
la     baguette     long thin loaf, ‘stick’      
le     bâtard     thicker loaf, ‘bastard’     
le     blé     wheat     
le     bol     bowl     
la     boule     round loaf     
la     buée     steam in the oven     
chauffer     to heat     
le     chef     starter, ‘chief’     
la     clé     seam on shaped dough,  
la     couche     dusted towel for proofing     
la     coupe     cut,score     
croquant     crisp     crow  
croustillant     crisp      
la     croûte     crust     
la     cuiller     spoon (not a common spelling)     
la     cuillère     spoon     
cuire     to cook     
la     détente     rest before shaping     
diviser     to divide, cut to loaf size     
l’     eau     water   
l’     épeautre     spelt (‘grand épeautre)     
l’     épi     ‘head’ of wheat     
le     façonnage     shaping     
la     farine     flour     
la     fermentation     fermentation      
la     ficelle     very thin loaf, ‘string’     
le     four     oven     
le     frasage     simple mixing of ingredients   
le     frigo     refrigerator     
le     gluten     gluten     
gonfler     to rise, inflate, oven spring     
le     grigne     expanded slashes on loaf     
le     grignon     most well baked part of loaf     
la     huile     oil     we
la      humidification     humidity     
la     hydratation     hydration     
le     lait     milk     
la     lame     blade     
le     levain     sourdough     
la     levée     rising, proofing     
la     levure     commercial yeast     l
mélanger     to mix     
mettre     to put, to place     
la     miche     large round loaf     
la     mie     crumb  
le     miel     honey     
mise en forme     shaping      
le     pain     bread     
la     pâte     dough     
le     pâton     shaped dough     
le     petit pain     roll     
le     pétrin     bread trough or kneading machine     
pétrir     to knead     
le     pétrissage     process of kneading


French Baking Terms with a Little French History


Crème Anglaise –

Is French for English cream. Anglaise  is a dessert sauce made from a pourable custard. It is classically flavored with vanilla, although other flavorings such as coffee, chocolate, or fruit may be used. In addition to being used as a sauce, crème Anglaise is also used as the base for other desserts, like ice cream and pastry cream. Making crème Anglaise is relatively easy to do at home, and the versatile sauce can be a useful way to dress up cakes and tortes for dinner parties.

The cream is made by whipping egg yolks and sugar together until the yolk is almost white, and then slowly adding hot milk, while whisking. Vanilla beans (seeds) may be added for extra flavor and eye appeal. The sauce is then cooked over low heat (otherwise the yolks will cook, resulting in scrambled eggs) and stirred constantly with a spoon until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and then removed from the heat. If the sauce reaches too high a temperature, it will curdle. Cooking temperature should be between 70 °C (156 °F) and 85 °C (185 °F); the higher the temperature, the thicker the resulting cream, as long as the yolks are fully incorporated into the mixture.

This can be poured as a sauce over cakes or fruits. Alternatively, it can be eaten as a dessert on its own, for example in Île flottante (“floating island”): the cream is poured into a bowl with a piece of meringue (blancs en neige) floated on top along with praline. It can also be used as a base for desserts such as ice cream or crème brûlée. It has a mild taste but a rich, and thick vanilla flavor. However, ice cream base is much thicker and has various flavorings.

Other names includes ‘crème à l’anglaise’ and ‘crème française’.[2]

Crème fraiche – This French term means “fresh cream” and is a soured cream containing about 28% butterfat and with a pH of around 4.5. It is soured with bacterial culture, but is thicker, and less sour than sour cream.[citation needed]

Originally a French product, it is available in many countries. It is traditional to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia.

Bain-Marie – also known as a water bath – is a  French term used for a piece of cooking equipment to heat ingredients, such as chocolate and butter combined, gently and gradually to prevent splitting and caking. Otherwise known as a double boiler.

The name comes from the medieval-Latin term balneum (or balineum) Mariae—literally, Mary’s bath—from which the French bain de Marie, or bain-marie, is derived.  One thetory as to how the name Marie came to be associated with this equipment, according to culinary writer Giuliano Bugialli, the term comes from the Italian bagno maria, named after Maria de’Cleofa, who developed the technique in Florence in the sixteenth century.[3]

Chinois –

A chinois is a cone shaped very fine strainer used to strain custards, purees, soups, and sauces, producing a very smooth texture. It can also be used to dust pastry with a fine layer of powdered sugar.

The name chinois comes from the masculine form of the French adjective and is the name of this utensil in French.

Crème brûlée (crème brulée in L’Orthographie 1990) (French for “burnt cream”), crema catalana, or Trinity cream (the British version introduced at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1879) is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. Although often served cold in North America, traditionally it is to be served warm.

The custard base is traditionally flavored with vanilla, but is also sometimes flavored with lemon or orange (zest), rosemary, chocolate, coffee, liqueurs, fruits, and even spices such as ginger.

Sabayon Method – eggs are first cooked with sugar over hot water to reach a ribbon texture, then the chocolate is  gradually incorporated — an easy method that results in a consistently good texture.


[2] Larousse Gastronomique, 1st English edition, p. 319

[3]Giuliano Bugialli, The Fine Art of Italian Cooking, p.33. New York: Gramercy 2005.