I know. It really has been a long time since I lasted posted a recipe. But, I decided not to worry about it. Baking is my hobby, my way to de-stress. I like the creative aspect of putting my recipes online but I realised that trying to post recipes each month was putting unnecessary pressure on myself. Life can be stressful enough as it is. For now, I've decided to carry on baking what I like when I want, and get round to posting my favourite recipes when the mood strikes. For the (probably about three) people who read my blog, thank you for bearing with my erratic recipe updates.
Anyway, moving onto the point of this post. Last year I treated myself to a Kindle version of Edd Kimber's (www.theboywhobakes.co.uk) 'Patisserie Made Simple'. I say I "treated myself", I got it for 99p because it was on offer. Well, it turned out to be an absolute bargain. It is a beautifully produced recipe book, with excellent photos (the most important aspect of a recipe book in my opinion) and plenty of drool-worthy, creative bakes. The recipes are also super easy to understand and follow. Cheers to Edd for making us all feel like patisserie pros on our first attempt!
For the recipe I'm posting here, I used Edd's Paris-Brest recipe as a base but put my own twist on things. I made an almond praline crème mousseline (instead of hazelnut) and added a black cherry filling to make individual Bakewell-esque Paris-Brest (choux rings). As usual, my colleagues acted in their capacity as official taste testers. And, I must say, the office feedback was very positive.
Utensils: Large saucepan, large mixing bowl, handheld whisk, sieve, heatproof bowl, clingfilm, 2-3 large baking trays, non-stick baking paper, small saucepan, food processor, wooden spoon, electric hand or stand mixer with beaters / paddle attachment, round cookie cutter 7cm in diameter, piping bag fitted with a medium French star tip or similar, serrated knife, small palette knife, piping bag fitted with a small / medium French star tip or similar.
Top Tip: Avoid using a non-stick saucepan to make the choux pastry. The key to knowing when the pastry is ready to take off the heat is the thin film that forms on the bottom of the pan. This film won't happen if you're using a non-stick pan. When adding egg to the cooled choux pastry, also bear in mind that the amount of egg given in the recipe is always a guide - add the last egg bit by bit and with caution until the pastry has a slight gloss and holds a v-shaped ribbon when a wooden spoon is lifted from the bowl. You probably won't need all of that last egg.
500ml whole milk
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla bean extract
100g caster sugar
250g unsalted butter, room temperature
150g almond praline paste (see below)
Almond Praline Paste
150g blanched almonds
150g caster sugar
1-2 teaspoons almond extract
60ml whole milk
60g unsalted butter, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
85g plain flour
2-3 large eggs, room temperature
50g ground or flaked almonds, for decoration
Black Cherry Filling
1 tin (410g) black cherry fruit filling (or you could make your own cherry filling)
Makes: 10 Paris-Brest if piped using a 7cm diameter (you could pipe smaller or larger choux rings if desired)
1. Make the custard for the crème mousseline: place the milk in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Once boiling, remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Place the egg yolks, vanilla, caster sugar and cornflour in a large mixing bowl. Use a handheld whisk to whisk the mixture into a thick paste.
2. Pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking quickly and constantly to prevent the eggs from overcooking. Once combined, pour the custard back into the saucepan and place over a medium heat. Whisk constantly until the custard visibly thickens and bubbles. Cook for 1-2 minutes longer and then remove from the heat. Transfer to a heatproof bowl, pushing the custard through a sieve to remove any lumps. Press a sheet of clingfilm onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Once cool enough, refrigerate for at least 2 hours and until needed.
3. Make the almond praline paste for the crème mousseline: Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C) and line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Spread the almonds out on the tray and bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove the tray from the oven and set to one side to cool.
4. Place the sugar in a small saucepan over a medium heat and cook, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves. As the sugar dissolves it should begin to turn dark amber brown. Once some of the sugar begins to change colour, turn the heat down a little. Patience and gently swirling the pan are key here to ensure the sugar doesn't burn. Once all of the sugar has turned dark amber brown, pour over the nuts and leave to set.
5. Once the praline is set, break it into chunks and place it in the bowl of a food processor. Process the praline until a smooth paste forms. This may take some time as the almonds need to release their oils for the paste to form. Be prepared for the food processor to be running for several minutes. If you're worried about it over-heating, stop for 10 minutes before continuing. Add the almond extract according to your preference and give the paste a final whizz to combine. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate until needed.
6. Make the choux pastry: Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C). Place the water, milk, butter, sugar and salt into a large saucepan and place over a medium heat. Cook until the butter has melted and the mixture comes to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon to form a smooth dough (if it looks like scrambled eggs, keep mixing until the dough becomes smooth).
7. Place the pan back on a medium heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until a thin film of choux pastry has formed on the base of the saucepan. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and use an electric hand or stand mixer to beat the dough for about 30 seconds to allow it to cool slightly. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating until fully incorporated before adding more. The amount of egg given in the recipe is always a guide - add the last egg bit by bit and with caution until the pastry has a slight gloss and holds a v-shaped ribbon when a wooden spoon is lifted from the bowl. You may not need all of that last egg.
8. Line 2-3 baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Using a round cookie cutter 7cm in diameter and dipped in a little flour, mark 10 circles on the baking trays. These circles will act as a piping guide so that your choux rings are uniform. Place the choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a medium French star tip (or similar) and pipe rounds of pastry, using the templates as guides. Sprinkle liberally with ground or flaked almonds.
9. Bake the choux rings in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Turn off the oven and allow the pastries to dry out for about 10 minutes or so before removing and allowing them to cool at room temperature.
10. Finish off and flavour the crème mousseline: place the butter in a large bowl and beat with an electric hand or stand mixer until smooth and creamy. Add 150g of the almond praline paste and beat again to combine. Remove the custard from the fridge and use a handheld whisk to beat it until the texture is smooth again.
11. Add the custard to the praline mixture in 3 additions, beating until fully combined after each addition. The finished texture should be similar to buttercream. If the mixture looks a little soft, place in the fridge to firm up for an hour. Once firm enough, transfer the crème mousseline to a piping bag fitted with a small / medium French star tip (or similar).
12. Assemble the Paris-Brest: use a serrated knife to cut the choux rings in half. If you like, use a small palette knife to spread a little extra praline paste into the base of each ring. Spoon cherry filling over the top and then pipe crème mousseline around the ring of each pastry. Finish by placing the top of the choux ring on top.
Storage: All of the elements of this recipe can be made ahead of time, but once assembled these Paris-Brest are best on the day made. You can store any leftovers in an airtight container fridge for up to 3 days, though the choux pastry will go a little softer. You can also store any leftover almond praline paste in a jar in the fridge for up to one month (though mine doesn't last that long because I can eat it on its own with a spoon).