A STAGE*, A DISH: PARIS-BREST

Paris (Paris)-Brest (Finistère), 09/21/2020-06/25/2021

The Tour de France 2020 had its final stage in Paris last Sunday. The next Tour will (normally) start on June 26, 2021 in Brest, a harbor situated in the far West of Brittany. Then, I imagined this virtual stage from Paris to Brest in the 9 coming months…

Paris-Brest, this is also the name of an iconic French cake, created by a pastry shop owner from Maisons-Lafitte near Paris in 1910, as a tribute to… a cycling race named Paris-Brest-Paris founded a couple of decades earlier. Initially a professional race of 750-mile race, held every 10-year, it is now an amateur race (called a brevet) held every 4-year. The winner generally makes it in 42-43 hours, but some finish in 80 hours or more, taking a nap or a short sleep wherever they can, in a barn, a field or a ditch by the road!

The cake round shape was designed to remain that of a bike wheel… and in the recipe I propose you here, inspired by the pastry chef and instructor Régis Garnaud, there is even a tube inside the wheel!

* During the Tour de France, combining two of my passions, biking and cooking, I will try to present (almost) every day a recipe from the route followed by the peloton.


Levels of difficulty

Cost

Preparation

Resting

Cooking

n

 

$

75 minutes

 

45 minutes


Ingredients 4 servings

1.     For the praline paste

§  100g sugar

§  150g hazelnuts (or 75g hazelnuts and 750g almonds)

 

2.     For the chou paste

§  100g butter

§  4g salt or fine salt

§  25 cl water

§  150g flour

§  4 eggs

§  1 yolk

§  A handful of sled almonds

 

3.     For the custard (crème pâtissière)

§  1 egg yolk

§  50g cornstarch

§  125g sugar

§  50cl milk

 

4.     For the Paris-Brest cream

§  100g praline (paste)

§  200g butter

§  400g custard

 

5.     For the decoration

§  Icing sugar

 

6.     Material

§  Saucepan

§  Frying pan

§  Cling film

§  Silicone sheet

§  Baking plate

§  Piping bag and tips (incl. Saint-Honoré tip)

§  Bowl

§  Wooden spatula or spoon

§  Parchment paper

§  Mixer

Instructions

1.     Praline paste

§  In a frying pan, roast the hazelnuts

§  Then, add the sugar and cook it till it becomes caramel. Take off the burner.

§  Spread the whole on a baking sheet covered by parchment paper and let it cool a bit

§  Blend the caramelized hazelnuts while still warm, till you obtain a paste, i.e. beyond the powder state

§  Reserve

 

2.     Chou ring:

§  Put the water, salt and butter in a saucepan. Heat till it boils

§  Take the pan off the burner and add all the flour at once. Mix gently with a spatula or spoon alternating off and on the burner

§  When the dough becomes smooth and forms a ball, put it in a bowl. Add the eggs one by one and mix vigorously to obtain a smooth texture

§  The chou paste is ready when the dough is neither too runny nor too thick, forming a long beak from your spoon

§  Take a circle of a diameter equivalent to that of your Paris-Brest and put it flour to mark the shape of your Paris-Brest on the silicone sheet placed on your baking sheet.

§  Make a smaller circle, far enough from the first one, for the inside “tube”. Beyond the gimmick, the tube mainly aims, in large Paris-Brest, at minimizing the (important) quantity of (rich) cream used

§  Using a piping bag with a 1cm-opening, deposit a ring of dough following the flour circle. Make a second ring of dough smaller than, and just inside, the first one. Make a third ring on top of the first two

§  Make a fourth ring following the smaller flour circle for the “tube”

§  Brush the 3-ring ensemble only with the yolk, to give it a nice golden color

§  Sprinkle the sled almonds on top of the 3-ring assembly

§  Bake at 350F for 40 minutes and let it cool down afterwards

 

3.     Custard (crème pâtissière)

§  In a saucepan, heat the milk and half the sugar without stirring it: the sugar will avoid the milk to stick on the bottom

§  In the meantime, whisk the yolk with the remaining sugar

§  Add the corn starch and mix

§  When the milk boils, pour gradually half of it in the yolk mixture while stirring regularly. Then pour this mix in the pan with remaining milk, and heat the whole while stirring regularly

§  As the mix becomes thicker, remove the pan from the burner and whisk vigorously. When the cream is smooth, put it back on the burner cook it for one minute over high heat.

§  Pour the cream on a cling film, flatten it, wrap it in the film, and put in the freezer for 10-15 minutes

 

4.     Paris-Brest cream:

§  Mix the butter and the praline paste in a bowl and whisk till obtaining a smooth texture

§  In the meantime, whisk the custard in the mixer, faster and faster, till obtain a smooth texture

§  Add the butter-praline mix, mix the whole and whisk in the blender till obtaining a smooth texture

 

5.     Paris-Brest assembly:

§  Behead the larger chou ring

§  Fill up a piping bag equipped with a Saint-Honoré tip with the Paris-Brest cream

§  Pipe some cream on the bottom of the lower chou ring part to level it up, and place the tube on top, adjusting it if necessary

§  Then pipe small “commas” of cream all around the “tube”, outside and inside to cover it. Then, still using the Saint-Honoré tip, pipe the cream in swirls all over the top of the “tube”

§  Place the almond-decorated “hat” on top and press it lightly

§  Sprinkle with icing sugar for the final touch


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