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Hooray for Le Goûter (RECIPE)

By Dee Poquette March 16, 2023 Lifestyle

Have you ever seen or heard of the French word “Le Goûter” and wondered, “What is it and what does it mean?” Well, literally translated, Goûter means, “to taste.” It comes from the French verb Goûter and is pronounced “goo tay.” It’s the British equivalent of an afternoon tea sometimes called “high tea.”

The difference between “high tea” and “Le Goûter” is Le Goûter is only for French children and not for adults. You will never find a cucumber sandwich or a cup of tea at “Le Goûter” but you will ALWAYS find something sweet. There are no exceptions to the sweet rule.

The Treat Meal

You see, in France “Le Goûter” has become a noun and not an adjective or verb. It’s an institution observed all over France as a mandatory part of life for all school age children. A French parent would never forget to serve their little ones this special meal.

The Goûter ritual usually starts somewhere between 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm after French children get out of school and head home. The ritual is simply meant to tide the children over until dinner, since in France dinner isn’t usually served until after 8:00 PM.

Unlike American children, French children have a very long school day. They start school around 8:00 AM and finish school around 4:30 PM. Most of the time they go straight home, and you will find them sitting down at the table waiting for their surprise meal of the day (Goûter du Jour).

If by some chance the student has sports directly after school, you most likely will find the Mom waiting for her child with a “Goûter” in her pocket. As French custom dictates, this is the only time you will find children in France eating between meals (surprisingly, French children remain on the thin side) but under no circumstance will this meal be forgotten. What a great custom!

What Qualifies for Le Goûter?

So what exactly constitutes a snack for “Le Goûter?” As stated before, the meal will always be something sweet. No vegetables, no nuts, no granola bars, and no yogurt will appear on these tables.

Most likely, you will find: a baguette stuffed with a chocolate bar, Le Tartine (open sandwiches of jam or Nutella), biscuits (cookies), crepes or perhaps a slice of homemade cake. Also, you might find something to drink like a fruit juice or a sugary drink.

So in honor of that great sacred French Institution, “Le Goûter,” I have put together a simple cake recipe that you might want to make for your Grandchildren. Enjoy!

Olive Oil Lemon Cake  

olive oil lemon cake

Ingredients for the Cake:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 cup all-purpose flour, extra for dusting

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons grated lemons (I use Meyer lemons if possible)

2 large room temperature eggs

1/4 cup extra-virgin good quality olive oil

2/3 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt


Position rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Brush a 4-6 cup Bundt pan with melted butter or cooking spray. Dust lightly with flour shaking out all excess.

In a small bowl, whisk sugar and grated lemon zest together until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the sugar and lemon zest mixture. Gradually pour in the olive oil, milk, lemon juice and mix until a thin batter forms. Do not over mix.

In another bowl whisk 1 cup of flour, baking powder and salt together. Once mixed, gradually add flour mixture to the batter mixture and blend carefully. Again, don’t over mix.

Pour batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for 28-30 minutes. Bake until sides of cake just begin to pull away from sides of pan and brown slightly. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, loosen sides and invert cake onto a cooling rack. Once cooled, garnish with fruit or dust with confectioner sugar.

Note: This cake will be a dense moist cake and will not rise to be very tall.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What do you say is the equal of Le Goûter in your country or region? Have you made any special treats for your children or grandchildren? Are there rituals you picked up from foreign lands you visited and made your own? Please share below!

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Oh, yum! I can’t wait to try this recipe. Wonderful article.


The Author

Dee Poquette is the owner of Jackdaw Journeys Tours. Her love affair with Provence began 12 years ago when she attended her first cooking school at Julia Child's home in Plascassier. With her you can experience the authentic world of Provence.

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