Oh how I love the pastry shops in France. The windows are loaded up with temping goodies and I often find myself, nose pressed up against the glass, leaving drool marks as I consider my options.
Eclairs and Macarons get all the attention but there are more. So many more! Just think about all the mille-feuille and religous and St. Honore and lemon tarts and fruit tarts and chocolate tarts… oh, I’m feeling out of breath, I’ll just let a few of the pictures I have taken over the years tell the story…
Sigh. Where am I? Oh yes, French Fridays with Dorie. Dorie, it seems, has been trying to convince me that one can enjoy these delectable treats without paying for a plane ticket (or a train ticket, as the case may be). She has had us working with choux pastry in several recipes and even taught me to make eclairs (much to my husband’s delight). But with this week’s recipe, Paris Brest, I seem to have met my match. I can almost hear the Parisian pastry chefs laughing at me from over here. “Oh she thinks she’s so smart, thinks she doesn’t need us anymore, well, this recipe will show her!”
Okay, maybe that’s just my overactive imagination. But any dreams I may have had about being one of those home cooks who can whip up fancy french pastry in my own oven came crashing down this week. You can read the details on the FFwD P&Q page. Basically, I had the wrong size pastry tip and/or made too many rings and, as Mardi pointed out, this caused the dough not to rise up in the oven. In fact, not only did it not rise, but it then deflated even further once I removed it to the oven. There was no way I was going to be able to cut that thing in half.
Again, sigh. After much deliberation I went at the thing at a bit of an angle and did the best I could to assemble it into something resembling a Paris Brest. I’ve decided to steal Mardi’s word “rustic” this week and go with it.
As for taste, it was good. Very good. I didn’t love the texture of the custard after adding the candied almonds. But my tasters LOVED it and were very impressed by my fancy skills. Little did they know.
At the end of the day, I consider the week a victory. I tacked a challenging dish and it was a “rustic” success. But I think that I’ll be just as happy to leave such recipes to the experts in the future.