Paris-Brest, image © Christian Sarramon
Makes 8 individual cakes
For the butter cream:
- 4 cups (1 l) milk
- 12 eggs
- 1 ¼ cups (9 oz./250 g) sugar
- 1 ⅔ cups (6 oz./170 g) all-purpose flour
- 9 sticks (2 ¼ lb./1 kg) butter, cubed
- 1 ¾ lb. (850 g) praline paste, available at specialty stores or online, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) whipping cream, 30–35 percent butterfat
For the choux pastry:
- ½ cup (125 ml) milk
- ½ cup (125 ml) water
- 7 tablespoons (3 ½ oz./100 g) butter
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz./25 g) granulated sugar
- 1 scant teaspoon (4 g) salt
- 1 ¼ cups (4 ½ oz./125 g) all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- A handful of slivered almonds
Prepare the butter cream a day ahead. Bring the milk to a boil. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until the mixture is thick and pale. Stir in the flour, mix well, and pour the boiling milk over the mixture, stirring as you do so. Return the mixture to the stove, and simmer, stirring constantly, until it is thick (the consistency should be that of pastry cream). Leave to cool a little; then gradually stir in the cubed butter. Mix well. Gradually stir in the praline and mix through. Chill for at least 12 hours.
To prepare the choux pastry, add the milk, water, salt, and sugar to a pan and bring to a boil. Pour in the flour, mix well, and simmer gently, stirring all the while, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Remove the pan from the heat, and mix in the eggs, one by one, stirring well each time.
Spoon the dough into a pastry bag, and pipe out a 4-in. (10-cm) diameter circle of choux pastry onto a baking sheet.
Pipe out another circle on top that is just slightly smaller. Repeat the procedure seven times to make eight cakes. Scatter the tops with slivered almonds, and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 300°F (150°C), and bake for another 10 minutes, until the cakes turn a nice golden color.
Just before serving, whip the cream with an electric beater, and fold it into the butter cream. Spoon the butter cream into a pastry bag.
Cut each cake in half horizontally, and pipe the cream out onto the lower half. Replace the top part, and dust it with confectioners’ sugar.
French Bistro: Seasonal Recipes is an homage to the gastronomic bistro and features 60 hearty recipes using traditional methods and seasonal ingredients together with beautiful photography capturing the dishes themselves and the lively atmosphere of Parisian bistros. French Bistro is out now from Flammarion, £19.95. Buy it at a discount from Saga Bookshop.
For another classic French dessert why not try French Bistro's recipe for rum babas?