Gateau Saint Honore
I’ll start this post with a bit of background information. At the beginning of May I was asked to join the amazing Daring Bakers group. It a group for keen bakers, who are given a baking challenge every month. Everyone has the same challenge and our posts about the challenge are posted at the same time. The past two challenges have been red velvet cake in March and then last month a towering crepe stack with filling and glaze.
I have very much enjoyed reading the posts by other Daring Bakers. When I became a member and saw my first challenge: Gateau Saint Honore my heart did a couple of skips, as I realised what was entailed – home-made puff pastry, choux pastry, Saint Honore cream, caramel and also whipped cream. The only element I have not made before was the puff pastry, but I have had an unsatisfactory time with choux pastry. Sometimes it’s been great and other times it’s been flabby and awful; but being a daring baker is about baking something outside your own comfort zone, and taking on new challenges!
First pic, dough and butter packages before combining. Second pic, the dough after one of its many rollings.
The first part I made was the puff pastry, which was actually a piece of cake so to speak. I read the method I don’t know how many times before the picture of exactly what I was going to do became clear to me, but when it did it was really easy. You just have to make sure that you are at home for a few hours in one spell. You make a dough package and a butter package then combine them and roll out and fold, roll out and fold… with an hours rest in the fridge in between each rolling. The rolling seemed to get harder in the last couple of rolls - a real arm workout. I froze it after making it, to spread the workload a bit.
See the oozy Creme!
My Mum is in her 70s and during the course of this challenge I found out that she used to always make her puff pastry. The choice was make it yourself or do without. When I told her I was going to make it myself, oh yes she said, shop bought doesn’t even compare. Now I always thought she liked shop bought, and she does, but she is so right, make it yourself with good butter and you get something so full of buttery flavour it’s almost sweet. Is it worth making yourself? You bet it is. I have heard Sue Lawrence (one of the original Masterchef winners, and a fantastic baker) say the flavour is incomparable and this is absolutely true.
The creme cooling in a cold water bath in the sink, in case you wonder the stripes are the reflection of our kitchen blinds!
The day before I was ready to make the gateau itself it was time for the Saint Honore cream. This is also known as diplomat cream or rapid Crème Chiboust. Chiboust was the chef who first put together the gateau and the cream that fills it. St Honore (pronounced o–no-ray) is the patron saint of pastry chefs and bakers, his Saints Day is on 16th May. It’s a pastry cream or crème patesserie that is enriched with Italian meringue, which can be cooked or just whisked and folded into the cold cream at the end. It is also set with a little gelatine here, to give it more stability. This version has a little rum added in too.
So the next day I had defrosted my homemade puff pastry, and had a ready and waiting bowl of pastry cream. I cut the puff pastry into a circle and left it in the fridge for a final rest before baking. Meanwhile the choux pastry was made. I started it off in the pan as usual, then cooled the initial dough before putting it into the Kitchen Aid and letting it do the beating while gradually adding in the eggs. Maybe it was my imagination, but I’m sure the machine left me with a lighter choux puff when they were baked. Although it might just have been because I was saved the huge amount of beating you need to do if adding the eggs in by hand beating! Anyhow, the mixture was piped into balls and in circles on top of the (uncooked) puff pastry. Then they were all baked, the puffs coming out first.
After cooking and cooling, the choux on top of the puff pastry was halved and filled with pastry cream, and the puffs were pierced and filled also. Next for the final touches, a caramel was made out of just sugar (no water added) which isn’t difficult, but it needs particular care as it caramelises more quickly. Once made the puffs were dipped, top down in the caramel, and also their bases were dipped in to attach or hook them onto the gateau. I was a bit blasé about the caramel and now sport a small blister on my finger as a result, because the sugar is hot hot hot! I also made a few caramel decorations for the middle of the cake. The very last things to do were to whip the cream, pipe it into the middle of the cake, and between the puffs, then finally decorate with a few crystalised violets and the sugar shards.
How did it taste? It was good! Made all the better by knowing that I had made it all myself. I made the puffs a little on the large side, so my gateau is larger than life as opposed to the dainty cake I thought it would be, but I’m very happy to have managed it! Thank you to Helene and Anita for being the hosts this month, and if you’d like to see some of the other Daring Bakers creations of the Gateau Saint Honore just click away on the links on the right under Daring Bakers. The recipe is here if you’d like to give it a go.
First challenge - thanks for having me DBs!