Paris Brest

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…

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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.

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21 Responses to Paris Brest

  1. Cakelaw says:

    It looks fab to me! Enjoy your holiday.

  2. Yeah for rustic 🙂 I think it looks lovely and would gladly share a slice with you!

  3. Liz Berg says:

    We have become the masters of disguise, haven’t we? I would never have guessed there was anything wrong with your Paris-Brest. Enjoy your ski trip~

  4. Cher says:

    Rustic is totally a thing – if you call it intentionally rustic, you never have to ‘fess up to anything 🙂

    I think it looks great – and I am probably very glad that Paris is not as close as a train ride away. Those pastries look downright dangerous.

  5. Look at it lady! THAT, is a victory for sure. A dusting with confectioners sugar is very democratic. Truthfully I have never liked those ‘perfect’ pastry looks anyway.

  6. Nana says:

    I think it looks fantastic. I had to do a little patching on mine but with the filling holding it altogether, it worked perfectly. I agree with you about the patisseries in Paris, one look
    and you want it all. Enjoy your ski trip.

  7. Karen says:

    rustic is fantastic! It looks delicious to me! Of course I would love a plane ticket to get some authentic french pastries. 😉

  8. betsy says:

    It doesn’t look all the rustic to me. Looks delicious. So do all your patisserie photos. I’m hungry. Have fun on the ski slopes!

  9. Nicely done… I didn’t even have to attempt the challenge. I let my 12 year old daughter make it. She already puts me to shame in the baking department. Have a great time skiing.

  10. Sara says:

    My choux pastry always deflates after it comes out of the oven, which is one reason I was hesitant about making the actual Paris-Brest. I think yours looks quite nice – just as nice as anything from the patisseries photos!

  11. dulceshome says:

    I think yours looks wonderful! I’d be happy to eat that slice…
    Enjoy your skiing trip!

  12. Mary Hirsch says:

    So what about your Paris-Brest is not something anyone would want to jam into their mouth. It is filled with personality (yours), has all its parts (Dorie’s recipe) and your family loved it (Mom rocks). So, you win on all counts. Where did you go skiing? I hole you all had fun. Aspen just got between 3′ and 4′ of new snow in the past 4 days and the skiing is “epic” as my friends all tell me. I hope you had an “epic” week-end also.

  13. Maria Zioga says:

    It looks marvellous to me! So what if it deflated a little…more space for cream that’s how I see it! Mine also deflated and I cut the top part very thin and filled it with this lovely praline cream and life was good again! Don’t fret about the French pastry chefs they are a very arrogant bunch 😉 enjoy your skiing!!!

  14. Mary Hirsch says:

    Yeah, Rose, Aspen just got 3′ to 4′ of new snow last week. My friends say that skiing is “epic”. However, altitude sickness is serious stuff and serious stuff trumps epic any day of the week. Sometimes altitude sickness is a one-shot occurrence and there are ways to help combat it (have I mentioned that I am a forest ranger and know these things?!?) so I hope you will return to Colorado at some point. But, good call on your part.

  15. Guyla says:

    Rosa, I experienced pretty much the same thing. I have a friend who is a pastry chef and she told me it has to do with the technique of piping the ring. The structure didn’t hold causing it to spread not rise. I will try it again but probably use a ring. Yours looks delicious and I suspect you are the only one who knew it wasn’t as planned!

  16. Renee Iseson says:

    Even with rustic, yours still looks terrific. Its all about the cream filling and the sugar on top! I’d still eat way too much of it! Love all your photos and those pastries at the top! L’Eclair génie is a fun spot to stop into- some really interesting flavors!

  17. Rose, I think your Paris Brest looks beautiful…and if it tasted good…the challenge was met!! I feel I need to bake this again after seeing all those fancy pastries!! Have a great week!

  18. EmilyC says:

    Looks great with the cream filling!

  19. Christy says:

    Rose, it looks quite fabulous – and the taste testers always trump any criticisms we have of our own product. Frequently we are too critical of ourselves. Seriously, how many home cooks do you know that make Paris Brest? Kudos to you for making this delightful pastry and sharing with your friends and family!

  20. jora says:

    What gorgeous photos of French pastries! I just don’t have the patience (or skill) for that kind of detailed decoration, I’m happy to leave it to the experts. I’m glad your dessert tasted good. In my book that’s all that matters.

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