My darling friend Jamie from the delicious blog Life’s a Feast lives in France and this month is hosting a Monthly Mingle. The Monthly Mingle created by the lovely Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey? I couldn’t wait to get baking something très français!
I settled on a Paris Brest…not the breast kind of a breast! Get your minds out of the gutter. Now what exactly is a Paris Brest. The Paris Brest is said to have been created by a pastry chef in honor of a bicycle race between Paris and Brest. It consists of a baked almond-topped choux pastry ring (patterned after a bicycle tire) that is split and filled with a praline-flavored buttercream. What was the race about? Paris–Brest–Paris (PBP) was originally a 1200km bicycle race from Paris to Brest and back to Paris. It is one of the oldest bicycling events still regularly run (the oldest being the Catford CC Hill Climb). The last time it was run as a race was 1951. (source Food Network and Wikipedia)
I’ve never been to the magical city in April but I did get to go there in a very cold November back when I was studying in France. Beautiful even on the dreary and frigid days.
Piping pastry cream is tricky. You have to practice and you have to move the bag swiftly, carefully and purposefully. If you move a little to the side, the pretty pattern will not be so pretty. This is the way I wanted all of my cream to look. They didn’t all look this way. But it didn’t matter…it was the taste! I don’t talk too often about puff pastries here. That doesn’t mean I don’t love them.
Fabrizio’s zio Antonio lives in Valle D’Aosta. Many of his pastries are influenced by French recipes and his bignè are made with Pâte a Choux. These delicate puffs are filled mile high with the richest and most wonderful whipped cream. These little cream puffs are the ruin of me every year when we go to visit zio Antonio. That is why I hardly ever bake them here.;)
Delicate and light as air puff pastry filled with a sweet raspberry whipped cream. Making your own cream puff dough is not as difficult as it may seem. You could make something sweet or savory with this basic dough recipe. If you are going savory, omit the sugar. The dough can be spooned onto your sheet to make puffs and freeze them until you’re ready to use them.
Paris Brest with Raspberry Whipped Cream Filling
Pâte a Choux-Cream Puff Dough
dough adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup of almond slivers
Raspberry Whipped Cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cup whipped cream
1 cup fresh raspberries
Raspberry Whipped Cream Directions:
Puree the raspberries in a mixer. Strain the raspberries through a fine sieve and set aside (you need to remove the seeds from raspberries).
If you like your cream sweeter, add a little more powdered sugar. In the bowl of a mixer, beat the cream with the powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Slowly add in the raspberry coulis and beat on low speed until combined. Set in refrigerator to chill while you prepare the dough.
To make the Pâte a Choux-Cream Puff Dough:
Assembling the Paris Brest:
After the dough has cooled, carefully slice in half the pastry rings. Pipe the chilled whipped cream on the bottom layer of the rings. Top with the other halves and dust with powdered sugar.