Why are they called “financiers”?

I’m not sure. At least I haven’t found anything authoritative on the subject. The word itself means the same thing in English as in French, which is to say a money manager, or a person who owns, handles or invests large amounts of capital. As I mentioned in an earlier post, some people believe it’s the “gold bar” shape of the cake that inspired the name. Others because it was (supposedly) invented at a pastry shop located near the Paris stock exchange, the Paris Bourse.

Reader Rainey introduced me to one I hadn’t heard but which has a great intuitive appeal, that they’re called “financiers” because they’re extremely rich. Curious as to whether French speakers use that same idiom to describe both a person of wealth AND a food high in fat, I set Mrs. Pastry to the task over at the U of L modern languages department. Indeed it does check out, at least as far as she can tell. So whether or not it’s actually accurate, it’s certainly my favorite explanation for the name. Thanks Rainey!

6 thoughts on “Why are they called “financiers”?”

  1. For what it’s worth, very early in the nineteenth century, rich sauces and dishes were being called “financiere”, as in this from 1810:

    It’s not impossible that this started in the eighteenth century, when rich financiers appeared even though the nobility were the most visibly rich, but the general focus on the newly rich tended to start after the Revolution – not least because they patronized the restaurants often run by cooks who had formerly had noble patrons.

    The financier cake or biscuit, however, doesn’t seem to be mentioned until about 1870, as in this recipe (1873):

  2. You are actually thanking Clotilde Dusoulier of the Chocolate & Zucchini foodblog. It was she who supplied that explanation to me a number of years ago. I was happy to pass the info along.

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