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Gateau Saint Honore – We Dare You!

It’s time for the May installment of the Daring Bakers’ production, created by Ivonne and Lisa. It was my turn to pick a recipe and risk a minor stone throwing if it did not work out. After last month somewhat hair pulling Crepe Cake (and yes, Brilynn we still love you), I was really worried about presenting the recipe I had chosen: Gateau Saint Honore. I knew that some of us had previously made it either in their jobs or pastry school, some had baked parts of it for other recipes or had been tempted by makin some aspects of it without taking the plunge. There were several reasons behind my choice but primarily:
– Turns out that May 16th was Saint Honore (pronounced o-no-ray) Day, patron Saint of pastry chefs and bakers.
– It is the “must pass” element of pastry school students and it is a cake that includes several elements and techniques that bakers should try at least once: puff pastry, cream puff dough, caramel and pastry filling.
– We are Daring Bakers after all!

Since there is an ever growing number of Daring Bakers, I asked Anita to co-host with me and you will find half of the Daring Bakers’s links to their creation on this blog and half on hers. We will be updating the links as people post throughout the day. There are 48 of us this month, from various baking backgrounds and accomplishments, with various jobs and trades and we have our first male Daring Baker too! On to the nitty-griddy of the recipe:

There are many fillings as they are bakeries: chiboust cream, pastry cream, Bavarian cream (aka Diplomat cream). The cake building goes like this:- base of puff pastry- rings of cream dough baked on top (so that the cream sticks)- cream puffs set on the pastry filling or hooked to the base with hot caramel- cream filling to fill everything
I compiled recipes from Bo Friberg’s books “The Professional Pastry Chef” editions 3rd and 4th, and "The Advanced Pastry Chef". It is straightforward and very close to what you would find nowadays walking on the streets of Paris and popping into a bakery (close our eyes, you’re there). I realize it calls for time consuming puff pastry so you can use store bought, but if you have never made it why not try? It is just a long process, but the recipe given below makes more than you need so you can freeze it and use it later for something else. The recipe for the Saint Honore cream is flavored with rum and that may not appeal to you, so substitute an alcohol that you like more (Grand Marnier, White Godiva, Kirsch,…), or vanilla.

Gateau Saint Honore is built upon the followwing pastry items:

Puff pastry, Pate a Choux (Cream Puff Dough), Saint Honore Cream, caramel and whipped cream.

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.

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 together. 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.

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 whitesdash 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 rum 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.

Caramel:8 oz sugar (240 gr)Assembly:

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 recrystalize.

Whip 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.

Option: Before filling the cake, take care of the cream puffs, dip them in more caramel, hook them up to the base. Fill with the cream filling and fill the holes with the whipped cream.

From the sneak previews and reports I got, it seems that the majority had a “good time” (it’s all relative with a lengthy recipe), and no major doozies, some had a runny pastry cream filling, some puffs had difficulty rising and we only had minor burnt fingers casualties.
In my love of all things mini I did not go quite as small as last month crepe cake but I made 2 6-inch cakes and 6 3- inches.
What I love about monthly challenges like these is to be able to take one recipe that we all follow and compare notes. 48 bakers means 48 ways to bake and 48 different experiences. I love it!

Check them out:

Cream Puffs in Venice – Ivonne : The Patron Saint of All Daring Bakers
La Mia Cucina – Lisa
: Happy Belated Saint Honore Cake
Culinary Concoctions by Peabody – Peabody : "Honore" Thy Fellow Baker
Jumbo Empanadas – Brilynn
: May Edition
All Things Edible – Quellia : Great Minds Think Alike
Veronica’s Test Kitchen – Veronica : It Huffed and It Puffed
Alpineberry – Mary : Gateau Saint Honore
Hester in Geneva – Hester : May Challenge

Desert Candy – Mercedes: Homework
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna : Daring Challenge

Feeding My Enthusiasms – Elle : Saint Honore Gateau
Food Art and Random Thoughts – Morven
The Canadian Baker – Jen : Daring Bakers May Challenge
The Sour Dough – Breadchick Mary : Holy Puff Pastry Batman
Writing At The Kitchen Table – Freya : The Bakers Bite Back

Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity – Dolores : Covered in Cream Puffs

Columbus Foodie – Becke : Daring Bakers
Dessert First – Anita
: Daring Bakers' Challenge
Eat Drink Live – Laura : From Paris With Love
Humble Pie – Gilly : In Honour of Cake

I Like to Cook – Sara : Pour Some Sugar On Me

Trembon In English – Valentina

Head over to Anita’s blog for the other 24 Daring Bakers!

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MyKitchenInHalfCups May 27, 2007 um 5:48 am

I now have even more appreciation for the beauty that you create. And I’m really in awe of doing this in a time of 4 hours, it’s a lot of balls or puffs to keep in the air.
It was a wonderful challenge and I certainly felt daring.

Mercotte May 27, 2007 um 6:08 am

bravo, belle réussite, et beau sucre filé aussi !

Alpineberry Mary May 27, 2007 um 6:16 am

Beautiful as usual but I think that teeny tiny one is the cutest of them all.

monica May 27, 2007 um 6:20 am

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Mamina May 27, 2007 um 6:27 am

Ce Saint Honoré te fait honneur, il est magnifique.

Ilva May 27, 2007 um 6:48 am

Helene, its simply beautiful, it makes me feel sooo amateurish but who cares, I’m having fun and I AM an amateur after all! Thanks for choosing this cake, I learnt a lot!

Anonymous May 27, 2007 um 6:49 am

Waaaahou alors ça c’est du gâteau. Ta présentation est une belle réussite!

monica May 27, 2007 um 6:51 am

your desserts and posts are so inspiring! i am also quite fond of mini/individual desserts…so cute.

how may i get involved in the daring bakers? many thanks, helen!

Gattina Cheung May 27, 2007 um 6:56 am

Helen, in the beginning, I kind of "huh" when I saw combining puff pastry and cream puffs. I mean, each is 100% delicious on its own, but putting them up together sounded a little bit odd to me. But I was wrong, this pastry is 210% fantastic! Your Gateau St Honore is a work of art!

Freya May 27, 2007 um 7:01 am

Wow, wow, wow! Your puff pastry rose so high! Mine sort of stayed at half a reluctant inch…
Just stunning and a great challenge!

sher May 27, 2007 um 8:11 am

That is just so amazing! Your caramel is like a dream! (Applause, applause)

Kelly-Jane May 27, 2007 um 8:14 am

Beautiful, it’s lovely to see how is should be done 🙂

Rosa's Yummy Yums May 27, 2007 um 8:22 am

Woaw, very elegant and rafined looking! I’m sure that your Saint Honore were delicious. Breathtaking!…

Truffle May 27, 2007 um 10:41 am

What a wonderful choice! Congratulations on such a beautiful creation. It looks absolutely delicious too!

Valentina May 27, 2007 um 10:52 am

oh, as usual your creations are so wonderful. I always sit and read your posts in awe.and then admire the photos..and plan to bake just like you one day. When I first read your post I freaked out at first thinking that I had missed the deadline.BIt it is today. I will be finishing mine later on in the day.

Laura May 27, 2007 um 11:13 am

Exquisite oh master! I love the sugar plates!

Nazca May 27, 2007 um 12:04 pm

Wow, I love the sugar rings! but how did that little one last until the photo was taken… it just screams "EAT ME!!!" 🙂

Meeta K. Wolff May 27, 2007 um 12:41 pm

Helene as expected yours looks just incredible. Love those spun sugar rings. A fantastic challenge that I enjoyed extremely!

Anonymous May 27, 2007 um 1:30 pm

Le Saint-Honoré, une de mes gourmandises préférées, mais je n’ai encore jamais osé me lancer.
Le tien est fantastiquement réussi et superbement mis en valeur par les photos…on en mangerait !
Bien à toi

Veron May 27, 2007 um 1:34 pm

This is beautiful ,Helen! Thank you so much for the experience…I enjoyed it so much. I think this challenge epitomizes what it means to be a Daring Baker.

Anonymous May 27, 2007 um 2:04 pm

Gorgeous and amazing Helene! I love all of your gateaux, but I agree with Mary, the teeniest just grabs my heart!

I wanted to thank you so much for this challenge – it taught me alot and gives me a greater appreciation for all of the wonderful things you create!

Anne May 27, 2007 um 2:24 pm

great creations as always, thanks for the wonderful challenge 🙂

Alanna Kellogg May 27, 2007 um 2:39 pm

OH MY OH MY – you all DO amaze, for sure!

jef May 27, 2007 um 3:32 pm

I actually learned (in person) from Bo Friberg. This really was his pastry test (at least for the first part of the course). Of course he expected far more from us than just this, but it really is a good test of skill: puff, choux, chiboust, caramel…with just those skills you could probably make hundreds of different pastries.

Good job! 🙂

Anonymous May 27, 2007 um 4:00 pm

I hate to be redundant, but I have to say your creations are marvelous and your choice of this month´s recipe was perfect for all of us (caramel burns be damned!). And yep, our cakes look amateurish next to yours, but I really don´t mind. Can´t wait to see what June brings!

Unknown May 27, 2007 um 4:05 pm

Love the presentation of the slice on top of the caramel or spun sugar….

I’m starting mine shortly!

Mallow May 27, 2007 um 4:33 pm

I have been anxiously awaiting the next Daring Bakers post. What a treat to find this beautiful creation on my computer screen this morning! It is gorgeous, as usual!

Anonymous May 27, 2007 um 5:50 pm


Because of you I totally have to add Bo Friberg’s books to my collection!

While I’m still not completely done my cake (can you believe it …), I have enjoyed this tremendously. Especially making the puff pastry so than you to you and Anita!

And of course, your gateau is a vision!

Warda May 27, 2007 um 5:51 pm

Qu’il est beau le gateau!
That’s what I call a pastry chef. I love the individual ones. They are so cute.
Thanks for this delicious challenge.

Ales May 27, 2007 um 6:36 pm

the mini saint honore looks so cute. I don’t know why, but lately I seem to be attracted to desserts presented as single portions…must be the bikini guilt : )

Peabody May 27, 2007 um 7:52 pm

Fabulous as usual. I expect nothing less from you!

Sara May 27, 2007 um 11:10 pm

Very very pretty! I love the drippy sugar on the small one. Great challenge, thanks!

breadchick May 28, 2007 um 12:42 am

Helen, thank you so very much for picking this challenge! I can’t tell you how much fun it was and now I’m not afraid of puff pastry or cream puffs. Your cake is a masterpiece of elegance!

Canadian Baker May 28, 2007 um 1:12 am

Helene, you’re amazing! I love your sugar discs. Thank you for a wonderfully challenging baking adventure.

Cheryl May 28, 2007 um 2:08 am

Thank you so much Helene for picking this. Though it gave me some difficulty, I am so happy now that I followed through on it, and I learned some much in the process. Great choice and fantastic job with yours.

Anonymous May 28, 2007 um 2:54 am

Great choice for a recipe! I’ll bookmark this post for when I finally rally up the courage to make my own puff pastry. 🙂 This pastry/cake looks so good, I’d like a piece or two. ;D

Lis May 28, 2007 um 3:52 am

I told you.. it’s 10 of midnight and I’m only at the T’s. har!

As I expected, your Gateau(s) are phenomenal. Scrumptious! Beautiful! I want you to teach me how to be 1/4 as good as yourself one day, 'kay? hehe

Your sugar is gorgeous, as usual – and I am totally in love with that photo of the creamy wedge of cake sitting atop the sugar disk. Perfection. =)

I’m also hoping your day ended up well.. xoxoxo

Brilynn May 28, 2007 um 5:42 am

Thanks so much for choosing such an excellent challenge. You never cease to amaze me with your beautiful creations! I hope we made you proud!

Sara – Piperita May 28, 2007 um 12:36 pm

How cute the big Honorè with all its little fellows!!!

Anonymous May 28, 2007 um 12:41 pm

what a challenge indeed! But so beautifully done! Who ate it all ? 😉

Jenny May 28, 2007 um 12:54 pm

I’m glad you chose this challenge, it was fun and tasty!
Yours look so cute! I love the minis!

Anonymous May 28, 2007 um 1:17 pm

Ohhhhhhh…yours it perfect. Look at that pastry. Sigh. One of these days, I’ll have to give the puff pastry a go again. Your sugar is gorgeous, too!

Patricia Scarpin May 28, 2007 um 3:03 pm

You are the pastry queen, sweetie!
Your caramel "hat" for the cake is fantastic!

Anita May 28, 2007 um 3:45 pm

Thanks again for letting me co-host Helene. I love the spun sugar perched so jauntily on the gateau. Beautiful as always!

Claudia May 28, 2007 um 6:52 pm

Wow Helene, yours looks fabulous. I love the sugar disk. Very, very nice!!!

Heather May 28, 2007 um 7:26 pm

I love the baby version. I wish I would have done something like that with my scraps of puff pastry, heck knows I had enough cream!!
Thanks for making me dare to try new things.

Nora B. May 28, 2007 um 8:45 pm

Helene, marvelous! And your skills with caramel, wow.

Chris May 29, 2007 um 12:18 am

Helene! Lovely. I always look forward to seeing your creations.

Barbara May 29, 2007 um 4:42 am

Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.

Anonymous May 29, 2007 um 1:31 pm

You DB’s never cease to amaze me. This is a beautiful creation!

Parisbreakfasts May 30, 2007 um 7:06 pm

Exquistely deliscious looking!

Dolores May 31, 2007 um 3:26 am

Well… what an amazing event you and Anita have hosted — and what gracious, helpful hostesses you’ve been. Thanks for providing the inspiration I needed to take this challenge on. In addition to learning the amazing seductive powers of diplomat cream, I’ve learned several techniques I *know* I’ll use again!

Anonymous June 8, 2007 um 5:21 am

One of my favorite dessert… you just prepared it so perfectly! I definitly need to try it!

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