“Baking is like a mystery that you have to unravel. You don’t get to see the outcome of your work until the very end and every step counts, so you could mess it up at any point. But if you get all those steps right then you will end up with an awesome product.”
Breda whipped up a very deluxe classic French pastry in the shape of a wheel called Paris-Brest. Created in 1910 by Chef Louis Durand to celebrate the famous Paris to Brest bicycle race with a starting point in the centre of Paris, passing his pastry shop in Maisons-Laffitte then all the way to Brittany and back.
The cream puff dough (pâte à choux) wheels are sliced in half lengthways then filled with the most decadent mixture of crème diplomat and hazelnut almond praline paste, topped with crunchy almond slivers and icing sugar. Bon Appétit!
P.S. In the 17th century the choux pastry got its name because visually it reminiscents the head of a cabbage – (choux literally means cabbage in French).
Prep time: | Cook time: | Serves 6
- Crème Diplomat
- 6g leaf gelatine
- 70g egg yolk
- 90g caster sugar
- 40g cornflour 375ml milk
- 40g butter
- 150g thickened cream
- Hazelnut and Almond Praline Paste
- 70g whole hazelnuts
- 30g whole almonds
- 120g caster sugar
- 20ml water
- Choux Pastry
- 125ml water
- 125ml milk
- 100g butter
- 2g salt (1⁄2 tsp)
- 150g strong flour
- 4 eggs
- 100g Flaked almonds
- 1/4 cup Icing sugar
- To make the creme diplomat start by soaking the gelatine in cold water. Around 10 minutes or until fully soft and pliable.
- Combine the egg yolk, sugar and cornflour in a large metal bowl and whisk to fully combine.
- Bring the milk to a boil. Secure the egg mix over a wet tea towel and confidently pour half of the hot milk over the egg mix while continuously whisking. Pour it back into the pot and return to medium heat. Whisk for approximately 2 minutes to temper the eggs, cook the cornflour and thicken the mix. Once it is smooth and thick, remove from the heat, strain the gelatine and add it to the mix along with the butter. Set aside to cool completely.
- Whip the cream. Whisk the pastry cream mix before gently folding through the whipped cream. Set a piece of glad wrap over the top (touching the surface to avoid a skin forming) and place in the fridge.
- To make the praline paste, roast the nuts in separate trays in the oven at 180 for around 15 minutes. Allow them to cool. Remove the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them between your hands or with a tea towel.
- Prepare a metal tray with some baking paper or a silicone mat. Place the sugar and water in a very clean, small saucepan and swirl gently to wet the sugar. Place over high heat and allow it to become a light amber colour. It will continue to colour through the next step. Pour the nuts into the saucepan and swirl to coat all of the nuts briefly. Confidently pour the nuts onto your tray and allow it to set completely hard.
- Once set, break it up into smaller chunks and place into a food procesor. Blitz the praline until it turns into a paste. This will take some time. It will first appear as a fine, dry sand and as the oils release and the sugar breaks down, a smooth paste will form. Set aside.
- To make the choux pastry, turn the oven up to 190 and set aside a doughnut pan or flat tray with some baking paper or a silicone mat. Place the water, milk, butter and salt into a medium saucepan and set over medium heat and allow the butter to melt.
- Just before it comes to a boil, pour in the flour and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon or spatula to cook out the flour. When the mixture becomes smoother and comes away from the sides with ease, take it off the heat to cool slightly.
- By hand or in an electric mixer, add the eggs one at a time making sure each egg is fully combined before adding the next. After adding 3 check to see that the dough is smooth, elastic and glossy. If not, whisk up a 4th egg and add in half at a time until the desired texture is reached. Transfer the dough to a large piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle. This is now ready to use.
- Prepare a beaten egg and pastry brush along with your flaked almonds and a small bowl of water.
- Into your doughnut pan or onto the flat tray, carefully pipe 5 rounds of the pastry mix in a circle making sure the sides touch. They should be about an inch wide and an inch tall. Dip your finger into the water and smooth the tops down.
- Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top. You could crush some of the almonds for more texture.
- Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 170 and bake for a further 25-30 minutes or until puffed up and deeply golden. Turn the oven off and open the door to let the steam out. Allow them to dry out in the oven slightly before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- When you are ready to finish your pastries, get the creme diplomat out of the fridge and whisk it until it is light and smooth again. Add the praline paste and mix through thoroughly. Transfer to a large piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle.
- Cut the pastries in half lengthwise and pipe 5 generous rosettes on each base. Replace the tops and dust with icing sugar. Serve straight away or refrigerate for 2-3 days.