French Fridays with Dorie: Paris-Brest

Slice of Paris Brest on eatlivetravelwrite.comParis – what? I hear you asking about the name of this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe (Paris-Brest, p 475).  Basically, it’s a large choux-pastry ring, filled with crème pâtissière, created in 1891 to commemorate the Paris–Brest bicycle race. It’s supposed to represent a bicycle wheel and apparently became popular with riders on the Paris–Brest cycle race, because of its energy-giving high calorific value (ahem).  But the cool story behind its creation is not the reason I chose it for this week’s recipe (yes, I got given the chance to choose a recipe this month from the FFWD admin so, of course, I chose a dessert!). Nope, I chose it because it’s delicious.

Given there are just two of us, I didn’t want to make a full recipe (because even though my colleagues might have enjoyed it, once it’s filled it really needs to be eaten the day it’s made and filled otherwise it starts to go soggy) so I halved the recipe to make one smaller ring and a few extra cream puffs 🙂 (Chef’s treat, according to Dorie).

Making Paris Brest on eatlivetravelwrite.comYeah, um, so ok. My “ring piping” skills need some work… And why oh why did the rings crack once baked?

Well when I posted the pictures above on Instagram and asked the question, apparently my piping tip (Ateco 803, 5/16″) was too small. Dorie calls for a 1″ tip but since I had made my ring quite small, I didn’t want to use a larger tip because I thought that it would make the pastry close over hole, making it look like a Danish instead of a ring. So, it cracked. But it did rise (as you can see the puffs, above, rose beautifully) so I knew it wasn’t the pastry.  Next time, even if I made a smaller portion, I’d definitely use one of my larger piping tips to avoid the ugly cracking.

In any case, this did not seem to matter to much once the whole thing was put together. You fill it with a crème pâtissière that you’ve mixed crushed caramelized almonds into, then sprinkle with a little bit of icing sugar…

Paris Brest by Dorie Greenspan on eatlivetravelwrite.comI mean, you can hardly notice it, right?

Until you look up close…

Paris Brest for French Fridays with Dorie on eatlivetravelwrite.comWhen you look at it from the side though, it looks just about perfect…

Paris Brest from Around my French Table on eatlivetravelwrite.comAnd the taste? Well believe it or not, I barely had a sliver of this (though I did taste the cream puffs which were delectable) – it was distributed amongst Neil and our neighbours who all pronounced it excellent. It’s a great dessert and, even though it has a lot of components, it’s not so tricky, (if you use the right piping tip!) and one that always impresses guests (but sssh – don’t tell them how much more simple it is than they think!).

You can see a recipe for Paris-Brest on Epicurious.

French Fridays with Dorie participants do not publish the recipes on our blogs, we prefer if you purchase Around My French Table for yourselves which you can do on Amazon (this link should take you to the Amazon store closest to you geographically). Or for free worldwide shipping, buy from The Book Depository.




Please note: The product links from Amazon, Amazon.ca and The Book Depository are affiliate links.  If you click on these links and purchase the product I have linked to or any other product, I will receive a small percentage of the sale price.

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55 Responses to French Fridays with Dorie: Paris-Brest

  1. Cakelaw January 31, 2014 at 05:20 #

    I am 100% behind your reason for choosing this – it was delicious! On Sunday, they played the episode from GBBO 2012 where James made Paris Brest, and I grinned because mine looked like his ( minus the extra bike accoutrements) – then faded when the judges said his should have been puffier. Oh weell, I loved it – great pick.

    • Mardi Michels February 2, 2014 at 12:35 #

      I think we all think ours could have been puffier but that might be for next time, right?

  2. Liz January 31, 2014 at 06:23 #

    Great pick! Bill only ate one of my leftover cream puffs and went straight to the white chocolate mousse I had in the fridge instead. Life of a food blogger’s hubby is rough 😉

    • Mardi Michels February 2, 2014 at 12:35 #

      He’s so spoiled!

    • Mr. Neil February 4, 2014 at 08:11 #

      Fair compensation for inconveniences incurred, I’d say… 😉

  3. Cher January 31, 2014 at 07:38 #

    Once it is cut into slices, no one will ever know 🙂
    It was good, but man that whole piping tip thing sure did create some drama!

    • Mardi Michels February 2, 2014 at 12:35 #

      Well if you can’t have a little drama with a choux recipe, when can you 😉

  4. Trevor Sis. Boom. January 31, 2014 at 10:42 #

    a little powdered sugar is a wonderful thing. Thanks for choosing this. It brought back an interesting memory of someone long ago. You are free to choose again!

    • Mardi Michels February 2, 2014 at 12:34 #

      Well you know if I chose there would be no fish and all dessert 😉

  5. Coco in the Kitchen January 31, 2014 at 12:39 #

    Profiteroles terrify me.
    I just can’t get them right.
    Cursed, I am.

    But, yours are gorgeous. I want to bite my monitor!
    And your piping is fine. I actually love the look of your ring cake!

    • Mardi Michels February 2, 2014 at 12:34 #

      Thanks. And re: profiteroles, practice makes perfect!

  6. Quyen January 31, 2014 at 12:39 #

    Yum, I love any choux based desserts! The large ring looks delicious!

  7. yummychunklet January 31, 2014 at 13:52 #

    I’m glad everyone enjoyed it!

  8. Karen January 31, 2014 at 14:23 #

    Thanks for the fun pick this week! Mine is in process at the moment but I am excited to eat it! Even with the cracks your pastry looks delicious!

    • Mardi Michels February 2, 2014 at 12:33 #

      Thanks – you gotta love a “rustic” choux 🙂

  9. Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily January 31, 2014 at 15:34 #

    I don’t know I think it looks kind of perfect and amazing! I’m sold… and now hungry.

  10. dina January 31, 2014 at 16:15 #

    it looks great!

  11. betsy January 31, 2014 at 19:59 #

    I don’t own any piping tips, so just snipped off the corner of a plastic bag. It seem to work out.
    Anyway, rustic isn’t all bad. It still looks quite impressive. Great choice!

  12. Diane Balch January 31, 2014 at 20:06 #

    Mardi… I am not a dessert person and most definitely not a cream puff lover… you have won me over to both with the Paris-Brest.

  13. Sara January 31, 2014 at 21:07 #

    Well, I think it looks amazing! An excellent choice, and a wonderfully delicious one too!

    • Mardi Michels February 2, 2014 at 12:32 #

      Thanks so much – glad everyone seemed to enjoy!

  14. Candy (Dulce) February 1, 2014 at 10:57 #

    Your pastries look beautiful! It sounds like your neighbors got a great treat!
    I didn’t get to this this week, but had made it in the past and posted about it, so at least I had a link!

  15. Michelle February 1, 2014 at 13:44 #

    I loved the choice this week! And even with a couple of cracks, yours looks great! 🙂

  16. Nana February 1, 2014 at 14:47 #

    This was a good choice for this week and I loved making it. I do want to try and do a better
    job on rings and puffs, but they sure are delicious when filled. Nobody is complaining about
    broken rings and such. Yours look delicious. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Mardi Michels February 2, 2014 at 12:31 #

      I think we all think we could have done better but for the most part those who ate it were not complaining!

  17. Mr. Neil February 1, 2014 at 15:53 #

    This is a repeat, to be sure.

  18. Mary Hirsch February 1, 2014 at 19:36 #

    Thank you, thank you, Mardi for choosing this fabulous dessert this month. Everyone seems to have loved it and probably will try, try again. As you know I chose to save it to make when I return to Aspen in the spring. I had no one here in California that I know to even share it with! Pity party. Pity party. But, so far my friends from home have lined me up to make it for two dinner parties and one house warming. Yikes. Instead of waiting to make it at home, I am going to do a few practice sessions here. I will look like a whale when I return to the mountains in April.

  19. Chocolate Shavings February 2, 2014 at 06:35 #

    I think you did a great job — they look delicious! These are one of my favourite desserts when I’m home. The perfect sweet indulgence!

    • Mardi Michels February 2, 2014 at 12:30 #

      Thanks so much and me too – I love a good Paris-Brest 🙂

  20. Maria @ Box of Stolen Socks February 2, 2014 at 08:20 #

    Thank you for choosing this Mardi! I loved it! The piping gave a hard time but the result was so so rewarding enough to make forget about lactose and gluten problems and dig in!!!!

  21. Rose February 2, 2014 at 09:18 #

    Yep, I need to work on my pastry bag skills too. Thanks for selecting a recipe which gave me a little pactice and some valuable lessons for the future.

    • Mardi Michels February 2, 2014 at 12:30 #

      No worries – I thought it was challenging enough for most but easy enough at the same time!

  22. Guyla February 2, 2014 at 12:34 #

    Mardi I loved this one and enjoyed making it! I feel like I learned a lot and need to get back in the kitchen and make it again a few times so I can master it. My pastry chef friend said the trouble I had was in my piping technique. It needed more structure. Practice makes perfect…..or at least makes me better! Yours looks lovely and the uninitiated would never suspect a thing!

  23. Renee February 3, 2014 at 02:38 #

    Yours looks really good- and no matter for the cracking etc. It’s the cream that really makes it! So glad you choose this dessert! Very, very tasty! It was a bit of challenge, but I can see making it again for a dinner party or something. Confectioners’ sugar hides all flaws!

  24. Kathy February 3, 2014 at 21:27 #

    Mardi, Great pick for this week! I really enjoyed trying my hand at this…and it was so delicious! I personally think yours looks beautiful cracks and all! Have a great week!

  25. TheKitchenLioness February 4, 2014 at 04:04 #

    Mardi, I really like your smaller version of the Paris-Brest – I think that makes it a perfect dessert for dinner guests. And I have to make some crème pâtissière next time to fill mine – sounds quite wonderful! Great pictures too!

    • Mardi Michels February 17, 2014 at 18:45 #

      Yes a smaller one was a little less unwieldy to manage decorating etc…

  26. EmilyC February 4, 2014 at 11:47 #

    Great choice! Have yet to make mine but really looking forward to it!

  27. jora February 5, 2014 at 10:36 #

    Great choice! I’m always happy to make a dessert. I’m actually worried about how few desserts we have left to make 🙂 I think I had the same problem with using too small of a tip, but your shot from the side does look perfect. I’m amazed you only ate a sliver of this!

    • Mardi Michels February 17, 2014 at 18:45 #

      I KNOW – there are hardly any desserts left 🙁

  28. Christy @ Confessions of a Culinary Diva February 5, 2014 at 22:11 #

    Great choice! I’m glad you picked it, it also gave me the opportunity to catch up on two others at the same time.

    I think yours is quite loverly, and I can’t tell there is anything short of perfection in the photos!

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