Les Sablés Scented with Fennel, Cumin and Aniseed Inspired by Avignon Christmas markets -

As a part of 12 Days of Blogmas, I've teamed up with Titan Travel this year to offer Fennel Seeds sablés biscuits recipe inspired by Christmas markets in Avignon, Head on over to their 12 Days of Blogmas to find recipes from other bloggers inspired by Christmas markets from around Europe.

Most people know Avignon for its bridge and its summer festival. Very few know of its Christmas traditions which in turns means that when the medieval town lights up in December, you will probably be one of the few tourists celebrating a Provençal Christmas

Christmas Market Avignon

A little bit of History: In the Middle-Ages, Avignon was the capital of the Christian world, nicknamed “The chiming Town”, it is unique for many reasons. The city encircled by its original ramparts encourages visitors to random walks through its alleyways and cobbled streets, past chapels and churches, medieval buildings, private mansions of the 18th and 19th century. It is so easy to slot into the quiet Provençal lifestyle away from the excessive commercial pressures.

Inside Le Palais des Papes Avignon

Glorious Food: Food is everywhere. Local gastronomy graces the markets like nowhere else, with a genuine reverence for its past and a real enthusiasm for modernity. Next time you fancy a Christmas market with a soul, Avignon is the place.

A Provençal Christmas: On the 24th of December, the midnight-mass takes place after the “big supper” and only then baby Jesus is placed in every crib around town

Each year, in Avignon, a 10 meters Provençal village with a crib at its heart, populated with Santons is recreated. In the past, Santons were made out of dried bread, painted and varnished. They are now delicately hand-painted terracotta figurines, about 20cm tall. To this day, each small figurine is made by hand and represents a character from Provençal village life such as the shepherd, chestnut seller, baker and even plumber. Th crib with its 600 santons “going about their business” in the shadow of a terracotta miniature Palais des Papes, tiny lavender fields and a barn awaiting for its Jesus-Santon.

Les Santons de Provence

In the chapel of The Palais des Roures there is a representation of “the big supper” with its famous 13 desserts.

13 desserts?

Representing the 12 apostles and Jesus Christ at the last supper
The Four Beggars or Les Quatres Mendiants representing the four religious orders
  • Raisins
  • Walnuts and Hazelnuts
  • Dried figs
  • Almonds
Then comes Pompe à Huile interpreted in various ways, it could be a soft cake flavoured with neroli or
  • a fougasse bread
Pompe a huile Fougasse
Next 3 types of nougats 
  • Nougat blanc, pistachios and pine nuts
  • Nougat noir, honey and almond
  • Nougat rouge, rose and pistachios
Fresh fruits
  • Grapes, melon, tangerines, oranges,
Then depending on the local variations you get
  • Dates
  • Candied Fruits
  • Quince cheese
  • Les Sablés scented with Fennel, Cumin and Aniseed
I love recreating recipes from our travels so let me take you to Avignon at Christmas with

Les Sablés scented with Fennel, Cumin and Aniseed

Sables biscuits

sablés are akin to shortbread biscuits, the uniqueness of these particular sablés is that they are served at the "apéritif" with white wine or Pastis - I decorated mine which in retrospect was a little over the top but makes for a lovely photo :))

125g plain flour
70g salted butter at room temperature
40g sugar
1 egg (+1 as you are not going to decorate)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp (rounded) fennel powder ( Traditionally fennel and cumin seeds are used but I prefer a smooth texture) 
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp ground aniseed


  1. Mix flour and butter (this can be easily done by hand but use the mixer if you wish)

  2. Beat the egg, fennel, cumin seeds, aniseed, sugar together and add to the flour mixture
  3. Pat the dough into a rectangle, wrap in clingfilm and store in the fridge for minimum one hour up to 5 days
  4. Cut the rectangle into 2 halves and place one half between 2 sheets of baking paper
  5. Roll the dough to a thickness of 1 and a bit centimetre. Repeat. Discard the top sheet
  6. Cut between 15 to 20 shapes of your choice, remove the spare dough (that can be rolled out too)
  7. Chill in the fridge or the freezer until firm
  8. Preheat your oven to 180C
  9. Beat the egg and paint on each biscuit
  10. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 15 minutes
  11. Cool on the rack repeat with the second sheet
Serve cold. They will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container

Disclaimer: This post was written in partnership with Titan Travel 

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