The Confectioner’s Tale

First published: 23rd April 2015

Publisher: Black Swan (Transworld/Penguin Random House)

At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner’s daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air.

But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.

Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words ‘Forgive me’. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.

Quotes and blurbs:

“Sizzling forbidden love story set in 1900s Paris . . . four stars” – Heat Magazine

“A heady mix of passion and betrayal set against the stunning backdrops of 1909 Paris and 1980s Cambridge.”The Lady

“Mouth-watering and mysterious . . . a compelling read”Leah Fleming, bestselling author of The Postcard

“Delightful, delicious and so typically French sweet and salty: this debut is a must read for every reading gourmet and for any Paris-Lover.” – Nina George, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Paris Bookshop

“In her fast-paced, deliciously addictive debut novel, Laura Madeleine throws the reader directly into 1910 Paris. You can feel the grittiness of Montmartre, see the Left Bank streets, and smell the sugar in the patisseries. Featuring romance, family secrets, and a well-executed dual narrative, The Confectioner s Tale is as transportive a book as you can read.” – Michelle Gable, New York Times bestselling author of A Paris Apartment and I’ll See You in Paris

“[A] passionate and thrilling story. Fans of Alex Rosenberg and Naomi Wood will enjoy this glimpse inside the decadent and sensual world of 1910s Paris.”Booklist

“Well researched, sad, and eventually heart-warming, I luxuriated in and devoured the whole confection during a single sitting.”The Bookbag

The Confectioner’s Tale is published in the US by St Martin’s Press/ Macmillan. It has been translated and published in Italian, French, German, Bulgarian, Dutch, Lithuanian, Czech, Latvian and Hungarian (upcoming).

Buy Links

Amazon UK / Amazon US / Waterstones / Find your local bookshop / Barnes & Noble / Books-a-million / Indiebound / Powells / Hive / Kobo

Accompanying Recipe

This is a cake I created to celebrate the launch of The Confectioner’s Tale. It involves some of my favourite things: raspberries, almonds and a more than generous helping of St Germain: a beautiful elderflower liqueur made from blossom hand-picked in the Alps (with a bottle that’s pure Belle Époque).

Named after the area on the Parisian Left Bank that – in its heyday – harboured artists, philosophers, bakers, jazz musicians, writers and the oldest food market in the city, it hopefully conjures up just a little of heady sweetness and decadence that were to be found there.

St Germain Cake

For the cake:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp St Germain (elderflower liqueur: you can use cordial if you prefer)
  • zest of ½ a lemon
  • 100g fresh raspberries
  • 1 tbsp flour

For the elderflower syrup:

  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 50ml St Germain
  • Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
  • Handful of flaked almonds
  • Icing sugar and lemon zest, to decorate

Allons-y!

The cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line a 23cm, 9 inch deep cake tin.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.
  4. Add a quarter of the eggs, along with a tablespoon of the flour and beat well. Repeat with rest of the eggs, beating well in between.
  5. Add the rest of the flour in thirds, folding in lightly in between until it is just incorporated and no streaks are showing.
  6. Gently stir in the ground almonds, St Germain and lemon zest.
  7. Lightly toss the raspberries in flour (this’ll stop them all sinking to the bottom) and carefully stir them into the mixture. Add a splash of milk if the mixture needs loosening.
  8. Dollop into the tin, smooth over the top and bake for around 40-45 minutes, or until it’s golden and risen, and a skewer inserted (and held there for a few seconds) comes out clean. Leave to cool slightly in its tin on a wire rack.

The syrup:

  1. Place the sugar, St Germain, lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer and reduce over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the consistency thickens. Be careful of the hot sugar.
  3. When the cake is out of the oven, prick holes all over the surface with a skewer and spoon over the syrup so that it soaks in.
  4. Lightly toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan for 2-3 minutes. Keep your eye on them, because they’ll catch quickly.
  5. Decorate with the almonds, a dusting of icing sugar, lemon zest and eat warm, with a café, a glass of pastis or if you’re feeling decadent, champagne.