Paris Brest

My husband is an avid cycling fan. All through the European summer, our television is tuned to cycling. The kids only watch their programmes on rest days. Fortunately cycling has rest days, it helps to keep the peace in the house.

There is a famous cycle race from Paris to the town of Brest and back to Paris. It is only raced every four years. Many years ago to celebrate this race, a french chef created this delicate pastry and he called it Paris Brest.

The base is choux pastry piped into the shape of a bicycle wheel and then sprinkled with praline , topped with cream and then sprinkled with more praline. The top of the choux ring is covered with almond flakes and the whole thing just makes your heart sing.

Choux pastry is quick to make and doesn’t test your patience like other pastries. You can bake the choux wheels and leave them an airtight container until you would like to assemble the Paris Brest. The praline can also be made ahead of time and stored. Crisp the choux in the oven for a few minutes while you whip the cream filling and assemble. They need to be eaten soon after assembling, or the pastry will get soggy.

Choux pastry:

250ml water

130g butter

10ml castor sugar

250ml flour

2ml salt

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

egg wash (an egg beaten with a little milk)

flaked almonds

Praline:

100g castor sugar

50g blanched hazelnuts

Filling:

300ml cream

20ml castor sugar

5ml vanilla extract

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Choux Pastry:

place the water, sugar, salt and butter in a medium saucepan. Heat over a medium heat until the butter melts. Do not boil.

Remove from the heat and add the flour. Mix well until well combined.

Return to the heat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the mixture comes away from the sides of the saucepan.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC

Prepare two baking trays with baking paper or a silicone mat

Beat the eggs, including the yolk.

Beat a third of the egg into the flour mixture, it will separate, continue until well combined and smooth.

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Repeat with rest of egg, but only add enough to form a smooth, loose mixture that will hold it’s shape. You may not need to add all the egg.

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Place the pastry into a piping bag with a star nozzle.

Pipe rings of pastry onto a prepared baking tray.

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Brush with egg wash and sprinkle flaked almonds onto the top of each ring.

Splash a little water on the baking tray before placing the tray in the oven, the steam will help to crisp up the pastries. I also put a small bowl of water on the lower shelf of the oven while I’m heating up the oven.

Bake for 10 minutes at 200ºC and then turn down the oven to 180ºC for another 15 minutes. Turn off the oven.

Remove the pastries from the oven, cut each in half like a bagel and return to the oven to cool.

Praline:

Place water and sugar into a medium saucepan. Place over a medium heat.

Stir until all the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear. You may have to remove the saucepan from the heat a few times until all the sugar is dissolved. You don’t want the sugar to boil until the liquid is clear.

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Add the hazelnut and boil until the sugar turns a good amber colour. This may take 4 or 5 minutes.

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Immediately pour the sugar and hazelnuts onto a silicon mat or a greased baking tray.

Allow to cool.

Break up the sugar into smaller pieces and place in a food processor. Blitz until you get fine crumbs. Don’t do it too long, or you will get a paste.

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Set aside.

Filling:

In a medium bowl, add the sugar, cream and vanilla .

Beat until the cream is thick.

Spoon into an icing bag with a star nozzle or use a disposable icing bag and cut a hole in the end.

Assemble:

Sprinkle praline on to each choux wheel base.

Pipe cream filling over the praline.

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Sprinkle with more praline and top with the choux wheel top.

Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

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Paris Brest

Choux pastry:

  • 250ml water
  • 130g butter
  • 10ml castor sugar
  • 250ml flour
  • 2ml salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • egg wash (an egg beaten with a little milk)
  • flaked almonds

Praline:

  • 100g castor sugar
  • 50g blanched hazelnuts

Filling:

  • 300ml cream
  • 20ml castor sugar
  • 5ml vanilla extract

 

Choux Pastry:

  1. place the water, sugar, salt and butter in a medium saucepan. Heat over a medium heat until the butter melts. Do not boil.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the flour. Mix well until well combined.
  3. Return to the heat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the mixture comes away from the sides of the saucepan.
  4. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200ºC
  6. Prepare two baking trays with baking paper or a silicone mat
  7. Beat the eggs, including the yolk.
  8. Beat a third of the egg into the flour mixture, it will separate, continue until well combined and smooth.
  9. Repeat with rest of egg, but only add enough to form a smooth, loose mixture that will hold it’s shape. You may not need to add all the egg.
  10. Place the pastry into a piping bag with a star nozzle.
  11. Pipe rings of pastry onto a prepared baking tray.
  12. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle flaked almonds onto the top of each ring.
  13. Splash a little water on the baking tray before placing the tray in the oven, the steam will help to crisp up the pastries. I also put a small bowl of water on the lower shelf of the oven while I’m heating up the oven.
  14. Bake for 10 minutes at 200ºC and then turn down the oven to 180ºC for another 15 minutes. Turn off the oven.
  15. Remove the pastries from the oven, cut each in half like a bagel and return to the oven to cool.

Praline:

  1. Place water and sugar into a medium saucepan. Place over a medium heat.
  2. Stir until all the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear. You may have to remove the saucepan from the heat a few times until all the sugar is dissolved. YOu don’t want the sugar to boil until the liquid is clear.
  3. Add the hazelnut and boil until the sugar turns a good amber colour. This may take 4 or 5 minutes.
  4. Immediately pour the sugar and hazelnuts onto a silicon mat or a greased baking tray.
  5. Allow to cool.
  6. Break up the sugar into smaller pieces and place in a food processor. Blitz until you get fine crumbs. Don’t do it too long, or you will get a paste.
  7. Set aside.

Filling:

  1. In a medium bowl, add the sugar, cream and vanilla .
  2. Beat until the cream is thick.
  3. Spoon into an icing bag with a star nozzle or use a disposable icing bag and cut a hole in the end.

Assemble:

  1. Sprinkle praline on to each choux wheel base.
  2. Pipe cream filling over the praline.
  3. Sprinkle with more praline and top with the choux wheel top.
  4. Dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

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