Paris Brest Pasty Ring is filled with pastry cream and adorned with praline and toasted almonds. And… it is actually easier than it looks!
If you can make custard and whip cream you are off to a great start! The pastry part is a classic Gourgère dough. That part is easy. The piping may be a bit tricky but it will taste great even if it isn’t perfectly round.
What the Heck is Paris Brest?
This was a dessert designed in honour of the Paris -Brest bicycle race that took place in the late 1800s. It really is a classic French pastry made in a circle to evoke the idea of a bicycle wheel.
That’s it….but it has taken on iconic characteristics!
- There are 3 main steps in making Paris Brest. The choux pastry, the praline and the pastry cream. The praline can be made up to a few days in advance and stored at room temperature in an air tight container. The pastry and filling are best made the day you plan to serve it.
- Read the instructions for each portion through in advance and makesure you are prepared for each step. ex. hae your baking sheet ready with the circle traced on the parchment for the pastry ring. Have your ice bath prepared for when you take the pastry cream off the heat. Have your ingredients ready since many of the steps are based on ingredients being added quickly ex. the flour addition to the choux pastry; adding the butter and almonds to the pralines.
- Be careful not to stir the sugar and water for the praline after it comes to a boil. This will cause the sugar to crystallize and turn hard and grainy. It can crystallize sometimes even if you don’t stir it. If this happens see the notes in the recipe for how to add water and bring it back to the right consistency.
- This is best served the day it is assembled. I will keep for another day in the fridge but the pastry becomes a bit spongy after Day 1.
Paris Brest Pastry
- pastry piping bag with 3/4" tip (2 cm)
- 1/2 cup water 125 ml
- 1/2 cup milk 125 ml
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter 76 grams
- 1/4 tsp salt 1 ml
- 1 cup all purpose flour 136 grams
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds 36 grams
- 1 egg lightly beaten for egg wash
- 1 Tbsp water 15 ml for egg wash
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup sugar
- 1.5 tsp butter
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 1/2 tsp gelatin 4.6 grams
- 1 Tbsp cold water 15 ml
- 1/3 cup sugar 67 grams
- 2 Tbsp corn starch 15 grams
- 2 Tbsps all purpose flour 17 grams
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 cups hot milk 375 ml
- 1 Tbsp amaretto liqueur 15 ml
- 1 cup whipping cream 250 ml
- icing sugar for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment and spread almond sliced in a single layer. Toast in oven about 10 minutes until golden and fragrant.
- Allow almonds to cool and set aside. Spray the parchment with cooking spray for later.
- Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir and allow the sugar to dissolve. Once dissolved bring mixture to a simmer. Allow mixture to simmer, without stirring until mixture is a deep amber colour – about 10-15 minutes. ( see Note 1 below if the sugar crystallizes while making the caramel.)
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter and almond. Stir to mix and coat the almonds. Pour the mixture on the sprayed parchment paper immediately and allow it to cool and harden.
- Once the mixture is cool, transfer to a food processor and pulse until mixture is reduced to a fine crumb. Some will be reduced to powder and some with be small bits. (Not chunks.) Set aside.
- Increase oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw and 8" (20cm) circle in the center of the parchment. Turn parchment over so ink side is down.
- Add water, milk and salt in a large sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pot.
- Return the pot to the burner and cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and allow to stand 3 or 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one a time beating with an electric mixer after each addition. Dough should be smooth and glossy.
- Add the choux pastry to a piping bag with a large 3/4" tip (2 cms). Pipe a solid ring along the circle traced on the parchment. Pipe a second circle making sure the circles touch at all points. Pipe a third ring on top of the bottom two rings.
- Lightly beat egg and water for the egg wash. Brush the egg wash generously over all the piped pastry (top and sides). Sprinkle with almonds.
- Bake 1 hour in the middle of the oven until pastry is golden brown. Turn the oven off and allow the pastry to dry for 30 minutes with the oven door ajar.
- Sprinkle gelatin over the water in a small dish and allow it to bloom it about 5 minutes.
- Combine sugar, cornstarch and flour in a saucepan. Beat in the eggs until mixture is smooth. Gradually whisk in the hot milk. Start with about 1/4 cup and mix it well so the hot milk doesn't cook the eggs in the mixture. Gradually add remaining hot milk, whisking continuously. Add the amaretto.
- Bring mixture to a rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, making sure to reach the bottom. Simmer for a minute or so. Mixture should be starting to thicken. Add the gelatin and stir well to dissolve evenly. Cool the custard in an ice bath by either placing the pot half emerged in the ice bath or tranfer the custard to a bowl and submerge the bowl half way. Whisk often to prevent a sking forming over the surface while it cools.
- While custard is cooling, whip the cream. Gently fold the whipped cream in to the custard once it is cool. Mix gently until evenly combined.
- Slice the pastry ring horizontally in half. Handle the top gently when removing it so it doesn't break apart.
- Fill the bottom of the pastry ring with the pastry cream. You can pipe it or add it in large dollops. You will want the pastry cream be visible around the outer edge of the finished pastry.
- Sprinkle the pastry cream with the crushed praline mixture. Gently replace the pastry top. Dust the top with icing sugar just before serving.