Paris – 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).
Well when I posted the pictures above on Instagram ans 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…
I mean, you can hardly notice it, right?
Until you look up close…
And 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.
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