Ahhh, the holidays. Every year I have such lofty goals of baking and shopping for the perfect Christmas gift. And every year I work up until midnight of New Years Eve because of crashed computers or projects which need to be done while offices are empty. You’d think I’d anticipate it, but I can still dream. I am thankful for the work though, and I do have pretty nice customers.
All that to say this: I’m a week late posting the recent Daring Baker’s Challenge. The November Daring Baker’s challenge took us for a ride! Luisa from Rise of the Sourdough Preacher challenged us to make Paris-Brest, a beautiful pastry celebrating the Paris-Brest bicycle race. Apparently in 1910, an ambitious pastry chef in Paris decided the bicycle race needed a pastry named after it in the shape of a bicycle wheel. Those silly French…but it did make for a nice pastry!
This was my first attempt at pâte à choux, which is the basis of tons of French pastry recipes; in particularly the “real” eclair (not the kind at Dunkins). It was easy to throw together and, although probably a little thinner that it should have been, piped out nicely on my pencil-drawn bicycle wheel circles.
I’m thinking this piping thing is going to take practice because my tires looked a little flat. They baked up beautifully golden brown, but flattened out a little too much. That’s OK – after carefully cutting them horizontally, I piped (again with the piping) in the praline mousseline (uh, yum, another new fattening thing I needed to know about), sprinkled it with powdered sugar and dug in.
It was wonderful, somewhat like an eclair with a wonderful nutty creme filling. I did have a go-around with the filling (carmelized nuts, ground into a paste and folded into a creme) and had to add whipped cream to make it thick enough to pipe onto the pastry.
I’m so excited to have learned to make the pâte à choux and we really enjoyed this delicious pastry. If you want to see the variety from the other bakers, there’s a slide show at The Daring Baker’s home page. It’s a fun site to browse. Here’s the recipe link (it’s a formidable recipe) if you would like to try it: RiseoftheSourdoughPreacher