French cake a week–Tarte aux cerises

Tarte aux cerises

Tarte aux cerises

In which Claire, who doesn’t speak French, bakes her way through a French cookbook from 1962.

What?!?! French cake a week? French cake every few months is more like it. It’s been a while. I got side tracked. But we’re back! And in keeping with the almost-forgotten tradition, we’ll talk about a French film as well as a French cake. This week’s offering is Séraphine. The film tells the true story of Séraphine Louis, a maid who has a secret passion for painting. She’s “discovered” by Wilhelm Uhde, a noted art critic who happens to be renting space in the house where Séraphine is employed. That’s the story of the film, but the film is truly about Séraphine herself; about her slow, quiet movements, about her passions and fears and loneliness. The film itself is slow and quiet, following Séraphine as she collects the materials to make paint, which is a mysterious and beautiful ritual. Séraphine is happiest outdoors, and her almost religious love of nature translates into her paintings, which are wild and vibrant and beautiful. Séraphine doesn’t paint for wealth or fame, she paints for the glory of god, and because she has to paint. She has a lush, vivid world inside of her head, and it spills out onto the canvas with a sort of ecstasy. She paints with her hands, with the power of her whole body, and the fervor of her fevered soul.

Tarte aux cerises

Tarte aux cerises

And it’s another cherry tart! This one is quite simple, just fresh cherries (and bittersweet chocolate chips, which weren’t in the recipe but which I couldn’t resist adding) in a simple crust, with a sort of “cream” poured over. Sometimes simple is best–this was delicious. I had a little bad-tempered trouble trying to piece together the lattice, but I don’t think it needs to be perfect. It’s all getting eaten, anyway!!

The soundtrack to Séraphine was lovely…deep and moving, and here’s a song from it.

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