Ahhhh…another week in the baking room at Vancouver Pastry School. On the cirriculum this week, we got to make a Paris Breast and Eclairs, New York Cheesecake and a cool Apple Strudel. As usual it was non stop working on pastries but the outcome was…. well let our eyes be the judge and let our tummies do the talking. Mmmmm… Not bad for a week ehhh? My favorite was the Paris Brest Pastry. I have been dying to wonder how to make it too. Now I know.
Paris Brest is made out of Choux paste but is piped out in a circle. It actually has a neat history behind it. Apparently it was created in 1891 in commemorate the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race. The circular shaped is piped out in resemblance to a wheel. The pastry is then filled with custard cream and whipped cream and then decorated with fruit. Choux Paste is a light and airy pastry that is made of flour butter and water and relies on steam to make the pastry rise. It is quite delicate in texture and mild in taste. The actual flavour comes from the filling you make and pipe into the choux paste. In class we used a combination of whipped cream and custard cream and topped it up with strawberries. A light dusting of icing sugar finishes the job. For dessert lovers who prefer a light and mildly sweet munchy, this would be the trick.
Keys In Making Choux Pastry
- When beating the flour into the butter/water mixture-make sure to stir until the mixture is dry and pulls away from the pan forming a ball. You will see a film develop at the bottom of the pan when stirring, when the film turn brownish, remove from heat. Enough evaporation. This will allow for more eggs to be added.
- Make sure that the mixture has cooled sufficiently prior to adding eggs. If the eggs are added too soon while mixture is hot, the eggs will cook.
- Bake the pastries first at a high temperature to ensure they puff up and lower the temperature in order to dry the pastries out.
Choux Paste Recipe (adapted from Le Cordon Bleu)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt ( I used 1 pinch)
1 tsbp sugar ( I used less than a tbsp. sugar)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup water or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk (I used all milk, milk gives a richer flavour but found water gives more rise to the pastry)
4 eggs beaten
1. Heat butter and water until flour melts.
2. Add flour then remove from heat and stir. A paste will form and stir until the paste pulls away from the sides of the pan.
3. Return to heat, stir until the mixture is dry and forms a ball .
4. Remove from heat to cool. Once cooled beat in eggs gradually to incorporate as much air.
5. Beat mixture into smooth and glossy. Pipe out choux paste.
6. Bake at a higher temperature first at 425 F for 10 minutes and reduce temperature to 375 F for another 15-20 minutes until pastry is golden in colour.
Decorate icing sugar on top and custard in the middle. Enjoy!!