Recipe: Paris-Brest (Praline Buttercream Choux Pastry)
Techniques: Choux Pastry, Buttercream, Creme Patissiere, Mousseline Cream, Hazelnut Praline Paste
A true classic, the Paris-Brest. Created in 1891 to honour the Paris-Brest-Paris Bicycle Race. It’s believed this pastry classic was popular with riders because of its high calorific value. This is hardly surprising given that they had to cover a distance of 1200km within 90 hours, sleeping as little as possible and grabbing food wherever they could along the way.
This treat is now found in patisseries everywhere, it’s iconic wheel-like shape making it instantly recognisable. La Patisserie des Reves produces a stunning example of a Paris-Brest.
To make this recipe, I did have a little cheat in the form of a half quantity of French buttercream leftover from the Fraisier recipe. Apart from that, everything was made from scratch I promise.
Confessions out of the way, onto the recipe.
Attempting this meant I had to take on choux pastry again. This went a lot better than last time, thanks to all the helpful tips I got from everyone after moaning about my last choux-capades.
There were still a couple of issues. Hey, it wouldn’t be as much fun if it all went smoothly, would it?
The choux is a simple blend of melted butter and water, mixed in with plain flour. It’s beaten vigorously and then raw eggs are added to give it a thick gloopy consistency.
I write about this matter-of-factly, but at the time I could have almost cried with joy that my choux wasn’t the watery mess of last time (Thanks Alison Smith). I piped out 20 pastry rings onto a lined baking sheet, brushed them with egg wash and then sprinkled flaked almonds over the top.
Felder explicitly specifies that you must use a convection oven for this recipe and that choux really cannot be cooked in a fan oven. Well, I don’t have anything other than a fan oven, so I decided to go against his advice and cook this in a fan oven at 20 degrees lower than his recommended temperature. I also had to guess at the cooking time.
They actually puffed up pretty nicely, although they were very small. These were more like the size of a petit-four, when making these again, I will most definitely make them bigger and just have a smaller amount of them.
Now on to quite possibly the best culinary invention ever…hazelnut praline buttercream! I didn’t even know this stuff existed until I tried this recipe. I began by making a caramel of sugar and water, to which I added chopped roasted hazelnuts. Once that had cooled I tipped all of it into a food processor, this is where the magic happened.
The praline eventually turned into something resembling a paste/nut butter. It tasted absolutely delicious, but it was very intense in this form.
I then made a creme patisserie, I am beginning to see why this is so called. It is used in practically every patisserie recipe I have attempted and I’m getting pretty good at making it now.
The last step before assembly of the Paris-Brest, was to combine the buttercream, creme patisserie and hazelnut praline paste to make the ‘Hazelnut Praline Mousseline Cream’. Phew!
Lastly, I had the tricky task of cutting the delicate choux wheels in half so that I could fill them with the buttercream. Excluding the cooking of the choux pastry, this was the hardest part of the entire recipe. Wielding a bread knife (as advised) I did the best I could.
All that was left was to pipe the mousseline cream onto the bottom halves, add the tops and dust them with icing (confectioner’s) sugar.
Next time Mille-Feuille au Rhum, my first ever attempt at puff pastry.
I’ve also set-up a facebook page for this blog, where I’ll be posting any other baking that I get up to and things I find of interest.
Thanks for reading.