March 20, 2013


This month’s Tea Time Treats Challenge is for something French and I fancied making something that seems unique to France.


Navettes are a speciality of the south of France and are little cookies made in the shape of a little boat or shuttle to commemorate the arrival of the Saintes Maries to the coast of Provence two thousand years ago.  Fleur d’oranger is the classic flavour and you can read all about it here.


They are easy if rather time-consuming to make.  I imagine it would be something children would enjoy doing – all that rolling and shaping of the thirty two little “boats” would keep them occupied for ages – I might try it out on my French baking friends Isabella and Amélie at Easter.  Amélie is particularly meticulous when it comes to sizing and presentation – she would not serve a plate of my mini tarts to guests last summer until they had been arranged in perfect formation so I’m sure she would get the navettes much more evenly shaped and sized than I did.


You end up with a small cookie which is crunchy on the outside and soft inside, just the right size to serve with coffee mid morning or after dinner.  They also dunk really well ! ! I will definitely be making them again.

I think next time I will boost the orange flavour by adding some orange zest, just because I love the flavour, even if it would no longer be traditional.


I am therefore grateful to Karen of Lavender and Lovage, and Kate of What Kate Baked for putting on this monthly event and causing me to explore my many French cookbooks and bake something I may have otherwise overlooked.  Karen is hosting this month’s Challenge and you can read about it here.


50g unsalted butter at room temperature

100g caster sugar

3tblsp orange flower water

1 large egg, lightly beaten

260g plain flour

a pinch of salt

For the glaze

1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tbslp water


Put the butter and sugar into a food processor and process until light and fluffy.  Add the orange flower water and egg and process again until well combined.

Add the flour and salt and mix again until a dough is formed.  Remove to a floured work surface and knead into a ball.

Split the ball into two balls, flatten slightly and wrap each on in cling film   Chill in the fridge for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.

When you’re ready to make the navettes, preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°fan / gas mk 4.  Line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Divide one ball into 8 segments and roll each segment in your hand to form a little ball.  Put each of these balls on the floured work surface and roll into a log about 8cm long.  Cut each log in half so you now have 16 4cm logs.  Repeat with the other half of the dough so you have 32 little logs.

To make the shuttle shape, nip the ends of each log and roll on the work surface slightly to make a smooth, even taper.  Flatten slightly and cut a slit along the centre using a knife or spatula, running the whole length of each cookie but not cutting all the way through.

Brush each one with the egg glaze and bake for 15-17 minutes until pale gold and slightly browned at the ends.

Makes 32 navettes.  They keep well in an airtight tin.


  1. I've eaten and made these in the past and they're very enjoyable, although I always think that the texture is a little surprising. I always think that they'll be crunchy all the way through and, of course, that's not the point. Yours look to be a much neater shape than mine - I'm jealous. I was told the story once that the Saints bought the recipe with them from Egypt and that it's a recipe that's as old as the pyramids. I think I must look gullible.

    1. Phil, there was a link to your post about navettes from a couple of years ago at the bottom of your lastest post about chocolate pudding. Considering the links are generated randomly from hundreds, that's quite a coincidence.
      I looked at images of navettes on Google and the pointy ones seem more common than the squared-off ones but both look good so I will definitely be making them again.
      I agree about the texture - I expected them to be crunchy, even though the recipe said they wouldn't !!

  2. I've never heard of these I don't think. They look fun.

    1. Susan, fiddly but fun and definitely worth it. I wouldn't buy orange flower water especially if I didn't already have some though - I think orange zest would be lovely.
      Squared off ends would be easier than pointy ones I think.

  3. New to me as well but they look interesting. Hope it has warmed up a bit over there. Diane

    1. Diane, sadly no, it hasn't warmed up at all. 3°C as I drove home from work this evening and there's no sign of any great improvement soon.

  4. "They keep well in an airtight tin."...
    If they get that far....
    They sound very nice... and also sound as though they might be good as the basis for a pudding?

    1. Tim, they are very moreish and the ones I took to work disappeared, which means I still have half of them for later......and I think they might make a nice base for a cheesecake kind of pudding, if you bashed them into crumbs.

  5. Even after all my years in France I can say I have never heard of these. Sound good though.

    1. Angela, me neither. They are popular in the south, allegedly, so I will look out for them the next time I venture that way.

  6. I've never seen these before - they look lovely. At first, I thought they looked like little hooves!

  7. Absolutely amazing Jean, and I LOVE these little French bakes, especially with orange blossom flower water too. A PERFECT Ooh La La French tea time treat thanks! Karen