They never served these sweet treats in the Bastille.

It's a long time since I've been to France but, despite the increasing trend towards sugar-free, gluten-free, everything-free cooking, the influence of French cooking is still evident.

I was an 18-year-old backpacker when last I was there, so I have no memories of fancy meals. My main French food memory was buying baguettes and making sandwiches in whatever park we were near, hacking cheese with our trusty Swiss Army knives, or splashing out on cured deli meat.

I also remember cafe au lait and a croissant for breakfast, which is pretty much my dream. I've had a lifelong love of croissants, yet making them is a little beyond me. I'll leave that to the experts.

There are so many great French classic meals worth playing around with. Find one of your favourite chef's recipes and give it a go. I love Stephane Reynaud and Damien Pignolet and I also quite like the approachable style of Rachel Khoo.


She's the one who set up a restaurant for only two people at a time in her tiny Paris apartment, while she was at culinary school in the city. They say if you can master the basics of French cuisine then you'll be an undoubtedly better cook - especially at things like base sauces.

I thought I'd go sweet for Bastille Day this year. Recently, I was in Wellington and spent an afternoon at Hippopotamus Restaurant and Bar at the Museum Hotel. I was chatting to head chef Laurent Loudeac, before he flew up to Sri Lanka for the Dilmah Real High Tea global final, which he won. He'd devised a menu that was supposed to reinvent high tea and since he had mille-feuille on it, I quizzed him about it, and thought it would be a good treat leading into Bastille Day.

He made traditional creme patisserie and infused the custard with strawberry tea. It was stunning. I decided to keep mine simple and cheated by not making the custard from scratch. It's an easy, impressive French sweetie, though, and the cut-through of the stewed rhubarb is lovely.

This would work as a dessert, and also for afternoon tea - definitely an under-rated meal. Putting the teapot on and having a little something sweet and a little something savoury to tide you over until dinner is great.

Crepes are more of a meal. My Mum used to make a savoury version for dinner. She'd fill it with smoked fish and broccoli in a white sauce. As a 9-year-old I thought it was great, if a bit weird. I still prefer crepes sweet and although it's hard to beat the classic lemon and white sugar, a caramel sauce with stewed fruit makes a blissful breakfast or dessert.

Creme brulee is also a great treat. I bought a blowtorch just for this a few years ago and love it in my kitchen gadget repertoire, but I can count on one hand the number of times I've used it. The grill in the oven works just fine.

So, whether it's a dessert, an extravagant breakfast or a beautiful afternoon tea, grab the sugar and the cream and bon appetit!

Try out Delaney's delicious recipes below at

Cheat's Mille-Feuille with Rhubarb
Crepes with Caramel Sauce
Creme Brulee