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#ThatTranslatorCanCook week 27: Cramique

This week I made Cramique, a fruit bread, or more accurately, an enriched dough or brioche filled with raisins. I discovered it in Belgium, but it’s also eaten in northern France and Luxembourg.

Some cramique recipes I found also included pearl sugar (also known as sugar nibs). However this Belgian site clarifies that cramique is not particularly sweet, with no pearl sugar, whereas craquelin includes this special sugar, and no raisins.


A ‘syrupy’ mess?

My source recipe recommends enjoying slices of cramique either plan or slathered with butter, jam, or ‘syrup’. But what sort of ‘syrup’ are they referring to? A British person might assume golden syrup, while North Americans might assume maple syrup. In reality, it’s yet another Belgian delicacy. Going by the full name of Sirop de Liège, it's a type of jam made from concentrated fruit juices – typically, apples and pears.

How to translate this then? ‘Syrup’ on its own is too ambiguous. We could expand, with ‘fruit syrup’ but this remains unclear and unfamiliar. Meanwhile, using the name Sirop de Liège might encourage the reader to research the term, and hints at the recipe’s authenticity. That said, it isn’t widely available in the UK, so might the British reader be annoyed? Since it’s simply mentioned as a potential topping, rather than a key ingredient, I decided to retain the full French name in the English text.

‘Family baking’

Serving as introduction to the recipe, is the following sentence:

Un grand classique de la pâtisserie familiale.

(Word-for-word translation: a great classic of family baking)

There is nothing inherently wrong with the above word-for-word translation. However, I believe familiale is used to contrast this with baking and pastries from bakeries. In English, ‘family baking’ might imply baking together as a family, which I don’t think is the intention here (en famille might have been used in that case). Instead, I think a better solution is to use ‘home baking’, a common collocation, and a term which, for me at least, evokes thoughts of warmth, cosiness, and tasty treats.

Baking on a turntable?

My recipe called for the cramique loaves to be baked either in loaf tins, or on platines.

I was a bit stumped by this one. Suggested dictionary translations include: turntable, connector board (i.e. in electronics/computing), and platinum. None of those seemed relevant. CNRTL as usual provided a bit more information, indicating that it can be apply to any manner of objects which provide a flat surface. A google search led me to the bakery Paul’s website where they list a Platine Loaf, which provided the following clues (although poorly translated!):

The Platine bread comes from Flandres. Its name "Platine" would be associated to the mould colour used at that time.

Then I came across this Belgian site selling platines à pain , which look just like a loaf tin. Given this I decided retaining reference to platines was irrelevant for the British audience, and just used ‘loaf tins’.


My recipe was a bit strange, with a few unnecessarily complicated steps, a yield of two (rather large) loaves, and a mistake. I (unintentionally) didn’t follow it to the letter, adding all of the milk rather than just some, and mixing all of the flour with the yeast mixture rather than just some – but I think this just made things easier. The recipe’s mistake was that although sugar appeared in the ingredients list, it wasn’t ever mentioned in the method, so I simply added it to the dough before its first rise.

In spite of these mistakes, everything turned out pretty well. It smelled and tasted divine. And fortunately, my household and my neighbours’ enjoyed it sans Sirop de Liège.

Picture of cooked cramique loaves fresh out of the oven

Baked cramique loaf ready to go to the neighbours

Next time

I plan on making a savoury dish, but we’ll see what takes my fancy in the meantime.

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