The nonnette from Dijon: noble ladies, murder and fairs

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Nonnettes - © / CC-BY-NC-SA Nonnettes - © / CC-BY-NC-SA
Agnès Sorel Mme de Sévigné Speciality

What’s this?

A mellow gingerbread with a nice amber colour, with an icing at the top and a mellow heart flavoured with oranges jam... Here’s the nonnette!

One of Dijon’s speciality, which was named after nuns (nonnette= "little nun"), who used to make these small cakes in their convent: a paste made of wheat flour, honey, yellows eggs and spices.

The mother company Mulot and PetitJean, based in Dijon, makes nonnettes since 1796. The recipe includes wheat flour and honey, but we find the cakes flavoured with anise, citrus fruits peels or angelica...

The little history

The medieval boichet

In the Middle-Ages, the gingerbread was called boichet: Margaret of Flanders loved them! Duke of Burgundy Philip the Bold’s wife popularized this cake in Burgundy (people already knew the recipe in Belgium).

Ooo, the naughty little greedy one! But she was not the only one who liked this cake: Agnès Sorel, king of France Charles VII's pretty mistress, also get supplies from a baker in Bourges.

A sweet murder weapon...

Oh, but the gingerbread could also be use for dirty tasks... crimes! Do you remember this murder, in 1455? The murder weapon was a delicious gingerbeard...

Neroli and pearls

In the 17th century, Mrs. de Sévigné loved the gingerbread: those were the nonnettes à la reine, "Queen’s nonnettes", made with rye flour, decorated with big sugar nuggets, flavoured with neroli. King Louis XIII was also fond of them: everyone in his court had at least one nonnette in his pocket! At that time, we had two kind of gingerbread:

• the pavé de santé, dry gingerbread, eaten in slice with butter or jam.
• the nonnette, a mellow bread covered with icing, sometimes decorated with nonpareilles, a kind of little coloured and flavoured pearls.

And also!