Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Paris-Brest

My parents have a set of electric beaters that are over 20 years old.  Phillips.  And still works very well.  Whereas I somehow get through a set every year.  I had thought that it was a question of quality, as my first one was an Argos Value one that cost less than £10.  So then I bought a standard Morrisons one for a bit more, then I went and bought a James Martin one.  Still, I think it's breaking.  Maybe I should really splurge and by a Phillips one.  It's like buying cheap quality shoes, you can buy a pair for £10 but then you'd have to buy a new pair every couple of months, at the end of the day you're better off with spending £70 on a good pair that will last you a lifetime.

Ok so about this dessert: the paris-brest was made to commemorate a bicycle race, and it's supposed to represent a wheel.  In all honesty, I think that's...pretty disappointing.  Knowing that a beautiful circular dessert was made to represent a bicycle wheel?  In China, round and circular shapes represent unity and family.  If you're going to make something to commemorate a bicycle race, take up the challenge and pipe your choux pastry into an actual bicycle wheel, man.  I think they did that at The Great British Bake Off at some point, no? It's like a lovely Christmas wreath, it's sad to know that it's meant to be a bicycle wheel.

 

Traditionally it's not filled with creme patisserie, but I love creme patisserie and prefer it to anything with whipped cream -- fill it with a cream of your choice.   I was feeling very generous with the filling...It was brought to a party, and I had filled it up as you see in the photo above but then I ended up eating 1/4 of the creme patisserie myself so that it'd look better.  I did that purely just for the aesthetics of it, I assure you.

I like making choux pastry because it gives me a lot of satisfaction.  I used to not be able to do it, that's why, and so now, I mean look at this beautiful shell. This beautiful..wheel.
 It's quite simple and straightforward, like your usual choux buns and eclaires, it's just that it's prettier because it's big.  You can take up the challenge and pipe your choux pastry into different shapes, like an actual bicycle perhaps.

Ingredients
Choux
125ml cold water
125ml milk
100g butter, cubed
150g flour, well sifted
pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar
4 medium eggs

Lemon Creme Patisserie
500ml milk
Slices off 1 lemon
6 egg yolks
150g sugar
50g flour, sifted
1/2 cup flaked almonds
1 egg for egg wash
icing sugar


Method
Making the choux pastry: 
Preheat oven to 200C.

Bring the water, milk, butter, salt and sugar to a boil.  As soon as it boils, take off the heat and add all the flour in at once.  Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to avoid lumps until it comes together as a dough.

Put back on low heat and stir for a couple of more minutes until the dough becomes drier and comes off the pot clean.  Leave the dough to the side to cool.

When the mixture is completely cooled, add one egg and stir until well incorporated.  Then do the same for the rest of the eggs, adding them one at a time.

Draw an eight inch (20 cm) circle on the parchment paper to use as a guide when piping the choux pastry. Flip the parchment paper over so that you can still see the circle but you won't get ink/lead in your pastry. Place the parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Transfer the dough into a large piping bag. Pipe a 1" thick ring of dough around the circle. Then pipe another ring inside the first ring, making sure that the two rings touch. Pipe a final ring of dough on top, along the middle of the the first two rings.

With moistened fingertips, gently smooth the rings of dough. Brush the top of the rings with the beaten egg, and sprinkle with almonds.

Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to180C. Bake for a further 35 to 45 minutes or until the Paris Brest is a golden brown color, puffed, and crisp. Turn the oven off and, with the oven door slightly ajar, let the shell dry out for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and finish cooling on a wire rack.


Making the creme patisserie
Heat the milk with the peels until it begins to simmer, then turn the heat off and let the flavors infuse for 10 minutes.

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and foamy.  When the milk has cooled down, whisk in 1/3 of it into the egg mixture, then whisk in the flour.

Finally, tip the mixture back into the pan with the rest of the milk, and using a wooden spoon, stir continuously over medium-high heat until it boils.

Turn the heat down to low and continue stirring until it becomes thick, about 10 minutes. Leave to cool.

Assembly
Split the pastry shell in half horizontally.  Spoon the creme patisserie into the hollow center of the shell.  Place the top half of the pastry shell on top and dust with icing sugar.  



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