Paris brest

Paris brest with pate  a choux swans

The November Daring Baker’s challenge took us for a ride! Luisa from Rise of the Sourdough Preacher challenged us to make Paris-Brest, a beautiful pastry celebrating the Paris-Brest bicycle race.

A Paris–Brest is a French dessert, made of choux pastry and a praline flavoured cream.The pastry was created in 1910 to celebrate the Paris–Brest–Paris bicycle race which began in 1891. The Paris brest is always shaped like a circle. The circular shape is supposed to represent the bicycle wheel.

paris brest challenge

The filling for the Paris brest is usually Creme mousseline  — also known as German buttercream — if you are not familiar with it, it is this heavenly, silky and decadent combination of pastry cream and butter. I love pastry cream, it is my favorite filling for cakes, knafe, and Mille-feuille and up until this challenge, I honestly thought that there was no way that you can make pastry cream any better.

I was wrong!

The addition of butter and praline paste transformed the pastry cream completely. The Praline added a beautiful nutty hazelnut note while the butter made the cream velvety and smooth. Simply put, the additions made the cream addictive! it was very hard to resist eating it by the spoonful! Consider yourself warned!

I followed the challenge except for using my favorite choux dough recipe and a few other changes that I highlighted in red. I also made a few pate a choux swans for the kids with the cream mousseline filling..simply irresistible!

paris brest

Paris brest

Choux pastry

(cannot be doubled)

Ingredients

½ cup (120 ml) (115 gm) (4 oz)butter

1 cup (240 ml) water

¼ teaspoon (1½  gm) salt

1 cup (240 ml) (140 gm) (5 oz) all-purpose flour

4 large eggs

Directions:

Line at least two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper, or grease pans well.

Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5 .

In a small sauce pot, combine butter, water, and salt.  Heat over until butter melts, then remove from stove

Add flour all at once and beat, beat, beat the mixture until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot.

Add one egg, and beat until well combined.  Add remaining eggs individually, beating vigorously after each addition.

Today,I only used 3 eggs, you want your dough to get to a stage where if you take a little dough between your index and thumb and open them, the dough will stretch without breaking. In my case that happened after 3 eggs,you may or may not need to add the 4th depending on the size of the eggs you use and the humidity on the day you make these

Cover the baking sheets with baking paper or a silpat mat.

If you use baking paper you can trace some circles of 4¾ -inches (12 cm) to help you out piping the circles.

To pipe the Paris-Brest use a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch (10 mm) plain nozzle and pipe two circles, the outer one of the diameter of the circle you drew. Pipe a third circle on top, using the star-shaped nozzle. If you don’t have one use a fork to trace some lines on its surface, this will help the choux pastry to rise properly. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Next time I will just use a larger piping tip, I think that will result in more uniform circles

Bake in a moderate oven at  375 for about 10 minutes.The use a tooth pick to poke holes in the dough circles, then lower the temperature down to 350 and bake them for another 10 minutes to puff them up again and dry them out

Turn the oven off, prop the door open, and let them dry for another 5-10 minutes. This will help make sure that you have and  maintain nice, crisp pastry shells that maintained their shape without deflating

paris brest filling

Praliné Ingredients

1 cup whole almonds/ hazelnuts or a combination of both

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons water

Squeeze of lemon

In a pan put the sugar, water and lemon juice, cook on medium low heat.

When the color turns amber add the nuts and stir to coat the almonds

Cook for 1-2 more minutes .

Pour praline on an oiled pan or on parchment

allow the praline to cool completely.

Break into smaller pieces

Place the praline in a food processor and process it  until you have a thick paste (at first the praline will turn into a powder then gradually it will turn into a thick paste, it is very similar to making nut butter

1

2

3

The process takes up to 10 minutes so be patient, the result is worth it

Crème Mousseline

Ingredients

1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2 egg yolks
¼ cup (60 ml) (2 oz) (55 gm) caster (superfine) sugar
3 tablespoon (45 ml) (2/3 oz) (20 gm) cake flour, sieved
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (135 ml) ( (4.4 oz) (125 gm) European-style butter, made from cream, with 83% fat content
3 oz (80 gm) praliné
1 vanilla pod, sliced open length wise

Directions:

In a small saucepan bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla pod. Put aside and let cool for about 10 minutes.

In a bowl whisk the eggs yolks and sugar until they become pale

Add the flour and whisk until all is mixed through.

Slowly add the milk to the egg mixture while stirring (the idea is to slowly warm up the egg mixture without actually cooking the eggs into scrambled eggs!)

Return the mixture to the pot and cook until the cream thickens, stirring the cream continuously.(It is best to use a whisk)

If the cream curdles, take it off the heat and beat it with a whisk for a few minutes or press it through a fine strainer

When the cream thickens transfer it into a bowl and cover with cling film, the cling film needs to touch the cream surface to prevent the surface from drying

Allow the cream to cool completely.

In a bowl mix the softened butter with the praliné. Add them to the cooled cream and mix until homogeneous.

4If your cream turns lumpy when you add the butter , your butter was too cold . That’s not a problem. Just let the mixture sit and warm until the butter softens completely, then beat — or whip — the mixture some more.

Paris brest with pate  a choux swans

Important notes:

The most important ingredient for this recipe – both for pâte à choux and crème mousseline – is butter, so please buy the best quality butter you can (I use European-style butter, made from cream, with 83% fat content).

If you have issues with your cooking top producing too much heat I highly recommend you to use blanched almonds and hazelnuts for the praliné, as the skin can burn quickly. In any case do always keep an eye while cooking the nuts with the sugar because if they burn they will become bitter.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips:

The baked (unfilled) Paris-Brest can be kept for several days in an airtight tin or can be frozen. The cream must be eaten on the same day, due to its un-pasteurized egg content. The praliné keeps several weeks, stored in a glass jar in the fridge.