Category Archives: Paris-Brest

Making Paris-Brest

There are an awful lot of flavors and textures at work in this simple pastry. Crunchy toasted almonds, spongy/chewy choux, rich but light chantilly cream and beneath it all a luxurious almond-praline pastry cream. Put it together and you’ve got something even one of today’s hyper-fit long-distance cyclists would find hard to resist. You want to have most of the components ready before you begin: pâte à choux batter loaded into a large pastry bag, praline paste and pastry cream. With all that at-the-ready, you can get down to baking and building. Preheat your oven to 425.

Start with your piping guide. Secure a circular object that’s 10″ across. This pan lid (which I obviously haven’t cleaned in quite some time) is almost exactly 10″ across.

I’ll trace it onto a piece of parchment paper with a pen or pencil.

A circle more or less.

When I flip the sheet over, and as you can see, I can still see it clearly.

Now for the batter. Pipe a thick stream of batter along the guide line. The trick here is to keep the tip well off the parchment sheet. Apply firm pressure and let the batter fall out of the bag from an altitude of an inch or more. Otherwise, if the batter is in contact with the surface, it will spread out (no good).

Do another line inside the first one. Yes, you’ll get some air pockets. Don’t worry in the least about them.

Now pipe one more one top of the other two, right in the middle. You probably won’t use up all your batter. Make a few éclair shells with the leftovers. Fully baked, they freeze very well in plastic bags.

Now gently score the batter with a fork. this will keep the batter from bulging and/or breaking off in odd directions.

Apply some egg wash (this is two yolks thinned with about a teaspoon of water).

Apply the sliced almonds and put the pan in the oven for fifteen minutes. Lower the heat to 375, bake another 20 minutes, rotate the pan and bake another 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, make your pastry cream filling. Add the praline paste to the pastry cream…

…and whisk to combine. It’s a bit of an odd color, no? The French version is even darker because their commercially-made praline paste is deep brown (I think they make it with the hazelnut skins on).

Bake your ring until it looks about like this:

Then turn your oven off, prop the door open and allow it to dry for about another half an hour or more. When the ring is completely cool, slide it onto your work surface. It may flatten out some, this is normal. Poke a small, sharp knife through the choux ring horizontally. Once the hole is made, insert a larger serrated knife (like this bread knife) through and gently saw the top half of the pastry off.

Don’t try to lift the whole top off in one piece since it can easily tear. Rather, cut it into portion-sized slices and move them to the periphery of the ring. Pre-cutting the top in this way will make the pastry MUCH easier to slice at serving time.

Slather on your pastry cream. Be generous but don’t go crazy since there’s more to come.

Now make your Chantilly cream and load it into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Can’t pipe? Neither can I. Just apply firm pressure and extrude the cream in large blobs. That’s all you need.

Replace the top sections…

…and dust your entire creation with powdered sugar.

Pretty, yes? And to think that in some circles Paris-Brest is considered an ugly pastry. Now all you need to do is slip the pastry off your work surface and onto a serving platter of your choice. This one is going into a box so I can take it over to U of L where it will be consumed by malnourished grad students. Do with yours what you will, but keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to serve.

Filed under:  Paris-Brest, Pastry | 31 Comments

Paris-Brest Recipe

Paris-Brest is one of those pastries that’s made from things you probably already know how to make, just assembled in a different way. The proportions are rough because Paris-Brest is not an exact science. Or perhaps I should say that making it an exact science spoils the fun. Like most classic recipes, there are many possible ways to prepare Paris-Brest. The choux shell is a constant, but they can be any size, round or éclair-shaped, filled with either pastry cream, buttercream or whipped cream (or a combination) and flavored with praline, coffee, vanilla or whatever your inspiration may dictate. It goes (roughly) like so:

For the Shell

1 1/2 recipes pâte à choux
1 egg yolk
about 2 ounces sliced, blanched almonds
powdered sugar for dusting

For the Filling

about 12 ounces pastry cream
about 4 ounces praline paste
double recipe Chantilly cream

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, trace a circle 10 inches in diameter (do this on the back side of the paper with a pencil, then turn the sheet over…you’ll still be able to see it). Place the choux in a pastry bag without a tip or coupler and pipe it in a circle along the line. Then pipe another circle just inside it. Pipe one more circle on top, in the middle of the other two, and you’re ready to go. Paint the choux with the beaten egg yolk, sprinkle the almonds all over and insert the sheet pan in the oven.

Bake 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 375 and bake another 25 minutes or so until puffy and golden. Turn off the heat, prop open the oven door, and allow the ring to cool slowly in the oven for about another 30 minutes. Remove the sheet pan to the counter and allow the ring to cool completely.

Meanwhile, combine the pastry cream and praline paste and beat well until the mixture is uniform. Prepare the Chantilly cream and place it in a pastry bag with a large star tip. When ready to assemble, gently slice off the top third of the ring with a serrated knife and set it aside. Spoon the pastry cream into the bottom of the shell, the top it with the Chantilly cream. Slice the top of the ring into serving-sized pieces and replace them on the top of the pastry (this will make it easier to slice later). Dust your Paris-Brest with powdered sugar and serve.

Filed under:  Paris-Brest, Pastry | 11 Comments