Daring Bakers Challenge: Gâteau St. Honoré

May 27th, 2007

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My very first entry into the monthly Daring Bakers challenge, and coincidentally, also my very first time co-hosting! Helene of the dazzling Tartelette graciously offered to share hosting duties with me – how could I refuse, especially after I learned which dessert she wanted to make!

No surprise that the Gâteau St. Honoré would hold a special place in any pastry chef’s heart – it’s like doing a quadruple salchow to successfully make puff pastry, pâte à choux, Chiboust cream, and caramel and combine them all into a showstopper ode to French pâtisserie.

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I’ve expounded on my love for this cake before- as St. Honoré Day was May 16th, this was definitely the appropriate month to make this recipe! My last attempt used Pierre Hermé’s chocolatey version from his Chocolate Desserts book. For the Daring Bakers challenge, Helene and I went through a few versions before deciding on the classic recipe from Bo Friberg’s The Professional Pastry Chef and The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef. Many thanks to Helene for compiling the recipes and being an all-around patron saint, answering questions from all the Daring Bakers throughout the month!

Instead of the usual single large cake, I decided to mix it up a bit this time with some miniature ones – two mouthfuls of buttery flaky pastry topped with crisp caramel-coated puffs and a creamy-cool-vanilla filling. The puffs came out a little larger than I intended – not having made the recipe in this size before, I misjudged how the cake base and puffs would bake in relation to each other. But I was very pleased with how the puff pastry grew and the crispness of the puffs. I think I prefer a looser filling of pastry cream to the stiffer Bavarian cream, but as the diminutive size of the cakes didn’t leave room for much filling anyway, it made little difference. (Incidentally, I’ve got a lot of filling to use up now!)

I’m glad I got another opportunity to make this wonderful dessert – every time I do it, I learn something new and I get to see if my pastry making has improved. And now, to fulfill my hosting duties, listed below are links to the other Daring Bakers – check out all their unique, lovely renditions of this dessert. Links will be updated as posts are added – and be sure to visit Helene for the rest of the Daring Bakers round-up!

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Helene at Tartelette

Ilva at Lucullian Delights

Marce at Pip in the City

Devra at Puu’s Cookbook

Patricia at Technicolor Kitchen

Meeta at What’s for Lunch Honey?

Sara at The Kitchen Pantry

Karen at Baking Soda

Swee at A Self-Proclaimed Foodaholic

Alice at Alice Q. Foodie

Nazca at Food is Good

Jenny at Jenny Bakes

Kelly-Jane at Cooking the Books

Rose at 64 Sq. Ft Kitchen

Kelly at Sass and Veracity

Gattina at Kitchen Unplugged

Cheryl at Gruel Omelet

Anne at Simply Anne’s

Gâteau St. Honoré

Components and respective recipes follow:
Puff pastry
Pate a Choux – Cream Puff Dough
Saint Honore Cream
8 oz sugar for caramel
1 cup heavy cream + 1 tsp sugar for decorating

Pate Feuillete – Puff Pastry

Makes about 2 1/2 pounds

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface (420 gr)
3/4 cup cake flour (105 gr)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (7 gr)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, well chilled (60 gr)
1 1/4 cups cold water (295.5 ml)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (14 gr)
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, well-chilled (405 gr)

1/ Make the dough package: In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours with the salt. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture; using your fingers or a pastry cutter, incorporate butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2/ Form a well in center of mixture, and pour the water into well. Using your hands, gradually draw flour mixture over the water, covering and gathering until mixture is well blended and begins to come togethe r. Gently knead mixture in the bowl just until it comes together to form a dough, about 15 seconds. Pat dough into a rough ball, and turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly, and place in refrigerator to chill 1 hour.
3/ Make the butter package: Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon flour on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Place uncut sticks of butter on top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon flour. Top with another sheet of paper; using a rolling pin, pound butter to soften and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Remove top sheet of paper, and fold butter package in half onto itself. Replace top sheet of paper, and pound again until butter is about A inch thick. Repeat process two or three times, or until butter becomes quite pliable. Using your hands, shape butter package into a 6-inch square. Wrap well in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator until it is chilled but not hardened, no more than 10 minutes.
4/ Assemble and roll the dough: Remove dough package from refrigerator, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll dough into a 9-inch round. Remove butter package from refrigerator, and place it in the center of the dough round. Using a paring knife or bench scraper, lightly score the dough to outline the butter square; remove butter, and set it aside. Starting from each side of the center square, gently roll out dough with the rolling pin, forming four flaps, each 4 to 5 inches long; do not touch the raised square in the center of the dough. Replace butter package on the center square. Fold flaps of dough over the butter package so that it is completely enclosed. Press with your hands to seal.
5/ Using the rolling pin, press down on the dough at regular intervals, repeating and covering the entire surface area, until it is about 1 inch thick. Gently roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 9 by 20 inches, with one of the short sides closest to you. Be careful not to press too hard around the edges, and keep the corners even as you roll out the dough by squaring them with the side of the rolling pin or your hands. Brush off any excess flour. Starting at the near end, fold the rectangle in thirds as you would a business letter; this completes the first single turn.Wrap in plastic wrap; place in refrigerator 45 to 60 minutes.
6/ Remove dough from refrigerator, and repeat process in step 5, giving it five more single turns.Always start with the flap opening on the right as if it were a book. Mark the dough with your knuckle each time you complete a turn to help you keep track. Chill 1 hour between each turn. After the sixth and final turn, wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before using.

Pate a Choux – Cream Puffs Dough

4 ¾ oz. all purpose flour (135 gr)
1 cup water ( 240 ml)
2 oz unsalted butter (58 gr)
¼ tsp. salt (1 gr)
1 cup eggs (240 ml)

Sift the flour and set aside.
Heat the water, butter and salt to a full rolling boil, so that the fat is not just floating on the top but is dispersed throughout the liquid.
Stir the flour into the liquid with a heavy wooden spoon, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed. Avoid adding it all at once or it will form clumps.
Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up the lumps if necessary, by pressing them against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a mixer bowl. Let the paste cool slightly so that the eggs will not cook when they are added. You can add and stir the eggs by hand but it requires some serious elbow grease.
Mix in the eggs, one at a time, using the paddle attachment on low or medium speed. Do not add all the eggs at once. Check after a few, the dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag and use as desired.

Saint Honore Cream (Rapid Chiboust or Diplomat Cream)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (7 gr.)
1/4 cup cold water (60 ml)
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar (130 gr)
½ cup all-purpose flour (70 gr)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk (500ml)
1 Tb. rum
¼ cup whipping cream (57 gr)
3 egg whites
dash of salt
1/2 cup sugar (105 gr)

Soak the gelatin in the 1/4 cup of cold water.
Put the sugar, flour, and salt into a saucepan and stir together with a whisk. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk.
Place over low heat and stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Stir in the whipping cream.Set the mixing bowl in cold water and stir until the cream is cool. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and using clean beaters, whip them with the dash of salt. As soon as the whites begin to stiffen, gradually add the 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until they are very stiff. Fold the egg whites into the cooled cream.

Assembly of cake
Roll the puff pastry out to 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, 12 inch square (30 cm). Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate covered at least 20 minutes.
While the puff pastry is resting, make the pate a choux and place it in a pastry bag with a # 4 (8mm) plain tip. Reserve.
Leaving the puff pastry on the sheet pan, cut a 11 inch (27.5 cm) circle from the dough and remove the scraps. (An easy way to cut it is to use a 11inch tart pan as a “cookie cutter”). Prick the circles lightly with a fork.
Pipe 4 concentric rings of Pate a Choux on the pastry circle. Pipe out 12 cream puffs the size of Bing cherries onto the paper around the cake.
Bake the puff pastry circle and the cream puffs at 400F (205C) until the pate a choux has puffed, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375F (190C) and bake until everything is dry enough to hold its shape, about 35 minutes longer for the cake and 8 minutes longer for the cream puffs (just pick them up and take them out as they are done)
Place about 4 oz (114 gr) of the Saint Honore Cream in a pastry bag with a #2 (4mm) plain tip. Use the pastry bag tip or the tip of a paring knife to make a small hole in the bottom of each cream puff. Pipe the cream into the cream puffs to fill them. Refrigerate.
Spread the remaining cream filling on the cake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set the cream.
Caramelize the 8 oz. of sugar:
Fill a bowl that is large enough to hold the pan used for cooking the sugar with enough cold water to reach halfway up the sides of the pan. Set the bowl aside.
Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and cook until the sugar until it has caramelized to just a shade lighter than the desired color.
Remove from the heat and immediately place the bottom of the pan in the bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.
Dip the cream puffs into the hot caramel, using 2 forks or tongues to avoid burning your fingers. Place them on a sheet pan. The caramel must be hot enough to go on in a thin layer. Reheat if necessary as you are dipping, stirring constantly to avoid darkening the caramel any more than necessary. Also, avoid any Saint Honore cream to leak out of the puffs and get mixed in with the caramel while dipping as the cream can cause the sugar to recrystallize.
Whip the one cup of heavy cream and teaspoon of sugar to stiff peaks. Place the whipped cream in pastry bag fitted with a #5 (10mm) star tip. Pipe a border of whipped cream around the top of the cake. Arrange the cream puffs, evenly spaced, on top of the filling, next to the cream.

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