Blog Check-in Lines: The November Daring Baker's challenge took us for a ride! Luisa from Rise of the Sourdough Preacher challenged us to make a Paris-Brest, a beautiful pastry celebrating the Paris-Brest Bicycle race.
What I found in this challenge is that my piping skills still need a touch of work, though I did make round circles, which is important since the pastry should represent a bike wheel. According to Wikipedia Paris Breast has been around for over 100 years, and it has taken me about 40 to try it for the first time, I don't remember having one while in Paris either time I have been there, and I am kicking myself for that. You can follow the link on the Wikipedia if you would like to learn more about the history.
Paris Brest is a choux pastry that is piped into circles, baked until done, and once cooled filled with an amazing pastry cream, vanilla, chocolate, or praline (which is what I did). The praline cream was amazing, it is an almond and hazelnut praline, which was a bit of a challenge as I could not find shelled hazelnuts, so you guessed it, I bought ones that I had to shell myself, it was a site. I was trying to break the shells with my meat mallet as I don't have a nut cracker, and trying to keep them in the towel on a counter, and keeping them away from the dogs when they shot out. I got it done, but it was a bit of work. Once the nuts were shelled it was on to make the praline which at first gave me a fight, I really have not done a whole lot of work with sugar and cooking it to melting, but I stayed with it and got the most wonderful nut praline, and then a praline paste, this stuff is amazing! Like peanut butter (which I am allergic too and will eat anyway) but way better, and probably won't cause me to have hives.
Once I was done with all the pralines I made the choux pastry, piped it and baked it; TWICE, because yours truly did not get it cooked all the way through the first time, and I had some serious collapsing. After the first collapse, I put the pastry back in the oven for a second go, and they puffed up a bit, not as much as I would have liked, but enough.
While the pastry cooked I made the pastry cream, I have several recipes and am always open to try new ones, this cream was a bit denser than some of the other ones I have done, but still wonderful. Once it was cooled and just before time to start putting the pastry together it was time to add the praline paste to the pastry cream, can you say heaven in a spoon!
The final steps to the beautiful pastry was to pipe the pastry cream into the shells and the results were no less than amazing! Hope you will enjoy taking a look at the photos.
This is the one that Ashley and I had together.
Yup, those are the fresh hazelnuts.
All the nuts for the praline.
Sugar and water mixture ready for the caramelizing process.
Have added the nuts here, and the sugar seized up, I had to read up to know that would happen.
Sweet caramel gold.
Laid out to cool.
All cool and ready to become the next step.
This stuff is amazing.
Pàte à Choux cooking on the stove.
Choux paste with egg.
As I said my piping is a bit in need of practice.
The goal was to do two rings on the bottom, one inside one outside, then to top it with another ring. That was the attempt at least.
And this is the final result.
And just before we dig into the pastry!
This was such an amazing challenge, and I am so glad to have completed this. Now to see what comes next. I think I have found my new favorite dessert until the next one.