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Mar 20, 2014 12:17 PM

Birthday cake of choice in France

I guess popular Americans birthday cakes are sheet cakes...either yellow, white or chocolate with butter cream frosting(of course most places don't use real butter which makes the whole cake kinda nasty)...although cupcakes are very popular these days too.
What kind of cakes do French eat on birthdays? I am talking about a typical birthday cake at home.

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  1. Have you had a lot of American birthday cakes?

    3 Replies
    1. re: wally

      Yes I don't know anything about French birthday cakes, but that description sounds more like the cliched image of the cheap grocery store cake at a kid's birthday party than what most Americans I know actually celebrate birthdays with . . .

      1. re: cookie monster

        Have you seen birthday cakes sold at most neighborhood bakeries in US? Those cakes sold at grocery stores and local bakeries are apparently the most popular choice in US.
        Luckly, I work in NYC where I have more options but still, it's kind of hard to find great cakes and pastries in US.
        I am just wondering if there is a popular type of cake for birthdays in France.

        1. re: Monica

          I've seen the same trend here in Colorado, flat cakes from the supermarket. If its a celebration at work, have seen nothing but sheet cakes with bad frosting. Have only been to kid's birthday parties the last 10 years and its the same. Adult birthdays are usually at a restaurant and they stick a candle or sparkler in almost any dessert.

    2. I did not realize that Americans had a standard birthday cake, and I partly grew up there. Live & learn. :)

      In Paris, there is no standard bday cake. You order your fave cake in advance and ask the pâtissier to decorate it with whatever message you want.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Parigi

        Mine were always Italian-style almond-carrot cakes, in both countries. I'm not aware of a standard cake in the US either.

        1. re: Parigi

          Come on, you never grew up in real America.

          1. re: Parigi

            and the message will be on a small plaque of dark chocolate that's laid carefully on the top of the cake....

            I agree "birthday cake" in France really doesn't have much meaning.

            Quite possibly because the birthday boy or girl is the one who brings the goodies and/or treats for lunch on their birthday. (Yes, it's backwards in Anglo countries -- we take the birthday boy or girl out and pay for their lunch!)

            1. re: sunshine842

              There must be no rule about who brings cake, then. I remember bringing my own cake in the US, and I don't think it was just my family.

              1. re: tmso

                While I have no doubt that it's that way in your family -- it's prevalent enough in Anglo culture that it's addressed in textbooks for students learning English in a foreign language, and it was a conversation many times in work and social situations when I lived in a non-English speaking country.

                1. re: sunshine842

                  My point is, this was common in the immigrant-heavy California community where I was. There isn't one rule that the entire English-speaking world follows. The Anglo custom is common enough that someone learning English should learn it, but common practice seems to vary greatly across the US, as is the case with many things.

                  1. re: tmso

                    "immigrant-heavy", as in non-Anglo, perhaps?

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      not "Real America" if that's what you mean. Latinos, Chinese, Viet Namese, blacks, recent European immigrants, etc. Maybe 10% WASP.

          2. Is this because you want to order one?

            1. Not really sure about your assumptions; same experience in US and Paris as Parigi's.

              Here is my small town (dare I say provincial), local supermarket's cake brochure:

              Sheet cakes are actually special order, i.e. not what is commonly picked up.

              Among the birthday cakes, the Chocolate Overflow is by far the most popular for my chocolate lovers. I would rather have a fruit tart for my birthday, but the Boston Cream Pie cake with fresh blueberries on top was quite delicious (brought this to another friend's birthday dinner).

              2 Replies
              1. re: souvenir

                O/T but what a great local market. Those cakes look amazing.

                1. re: cookie monster

                  It really is great. Small chain, family run, frequently on the 100 best places to work lists. Emphasis on local products and producers within 100 miles.

                  As you can see many descriptions are very similar to what Parnassien describes below.

              2. My kids, now completely adult, still require birthday cake on their birthdays - chocolate layer cake with chocolate butter cream icing (made with butter). I agree with other posters - sheet cakes are for office parties. I am actually interested in more detail about what the customs are outside the US. I hope that others reply.