I am a sucker for cream puffs….really I am…and strawberries and of course pastry cream because well, it is like eating berries on a cloud of cream and a pillowy puff. Yes, I know, I am often called a hopeless romantic or a dreamer, sometimes a combination of both. As long as I can remember I was the one hording the "choux" at every wedding back home. The "Piece Montee" (Constructed Piece), also known as a Croquembouche was for a long time the traditional wedding cake in France (and still is), with the American ones being the "new kid on the block" so to speak. I would take my little plate and usually wait for everybody to forget me and come back to take chunks out of the nougatine base and decorations, some caramel and of course a few extra choux.
I don’t know why but as a child I kept other "choux" related items very separate. I was like person who does not like her/his vegetables to touch the meat which in turn should not touch the corn. Aside from the "wedding choux" having its special place in my heart, I was a complete devout to "chouquettes" and "Religieuses". Each had a purpose: a wedding, an afternoon snack, and a Sunday dessert. It was not until years later when I became old enough to handle a rolling pin and a whisk that I started making "Puffs" just for fun, and fill them just for fun, and discover many years later that this little bite of heaven is my favorite to bake and eat. There is something absolutely liberating about biting into the crusty puff and to find my lips covered in cream, as well my fingers because it started oozing out from the side. Now you tell me if this isn’t heaven? Well, all things considered because this is a food blog peeps!!
Keeping with the not so child related idea, I got giddy about Mike's Strawberry Seduction event and I knew I had to pair my love for strawberry with my love for "choux". I made rather large so I could fill them with plenty of Grand Marnier Mousseline cream (pastry cream lightened with whipped cream) and strawberries. Mr. Tartelette, also known as B. called them "Strawberry Shortcakes crack" one night and tonight they were called "Zee Strawberry Cream Puff". They reminded me of one other favorite desserts of mine, the Tarte Tropezienne, but in the end we just called them plain "good"…
Strawberry Puffs with Grand Marnier Mousseline: Serves 8
Sift the flour and set aside. Heat the water, milk, 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 elbow grease. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, using the paddle attachment on low or medium speed. The dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise. Transfer the dough to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (I use Ateco #809). Pipe big rounds on a parchment paper lined baking sheet,sprinkle them with pearl sugar and bake at 350F for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Split the choux in half.
For the Grand Marnier Mousseline:
zest of one orange
3 egg yolks
25 gr cornstarch
115 gr butter, cut into small chunks
30ml Grand Marnier
1 tsp gelatin and 1 TB water
120ml heavy cream
1-2 cups of fresh strawberries, sliced
Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let stand until ready to incorporate into the pastry cream. Bring the milk to a boil with the orange zest. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until pale. Slowly pour the milk over it: add with a small amount to temper the eggs and make sure all your ingredients incorporate smoothly and them continue to add the rest of the milk. Return the whole thing over medium heat and cook until thick for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the butter and the Grand Marnier. In a microwave, dissolve the gelatin for 15 seconds. Quickly mix into the pastry cream. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (make it touch the cream so it does not let a skin form on top) and refrigerate until cold.
Whip the cream to stiff peaks and gently fold it in the pastry cream. Pour into a piping bag and divide among the choux. arrange some strawberry slices over the cream and put the hats back on (the picture below makes me think of the Smurfs). Serve within the hour. If you plan to serve this later, assemble it at the last minute so the choux don’t get soggy.
Since we are in the seduction theme, I would like to dedicate this post to the only Cream Puff I really love: Ivonne. I never got to thank you properly for seducing me with this wonderful cake and it is about time I did. You were on my mind the whole time I was putting these together!
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!