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Paris-Brest

French Paris-Brest

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Bake up a delectable French Paris-Brest recipe to celebrate the famous French bike race! With a ring of puff pastry filled with chocolate pastry cream, it will get you hooked on pate a choux desserts.   

Paris-Brest garnished with raspberries on a white serving plate

Paris-Brest

Our last January French Fridays with Dorie recipe assignment was a famous French dessert, the Paris-Brest. Named for a bicycle race which was held every 4 years from 1891-1951…from Paris to Brest and back. This dessert was served all across France during the race since the shape of the pastry ring resembled a bike tire.

The ring was made from pate a choux, or cream puff batter, and was split and filled with whipped or pastry cream after it was baked. To entice the picky hubby, I filled mine with chocolate pastry cream…and did not add the chopped candied almonds to the filling. He actually ate some walnut chocolate mousse this week (faux nut allergy be damned!)…but I don’t think his palate had evolved enough to enjoy even the smallest chunks of nuts. I piped out a few cream puffs with the leftover choux and filled those with a bit of the pastry cream….just in case the sparse sprinkling of almonds scared him off.

Paris-Brest Cake - a cream puff made from leftover batter filled with chocolate pastry cream and topped with a raspberry

Tips for Making a Pate a Choux Dessert

I grew up watching and helping my mom make lots and lots of cream puffs made with pate a choux batter. As helpers, my sisters and I would get the pleasure of scooping out the insides of the puffs…and sampling every bite of those innards so nothing went to waste.

Here are a couple tips when making choux pastry.

  • Did you know that there are certain ratios you must follow? According to Michael Rhulman, the egg and liquid volumes must be equal. In Dorie’s recipe we had 4 eggs (1 cup/8 ounces) and 1/2 cup water plus 1/2 cup whole milk (1 cup/8 ounces).  And half as much flour and butter (1 cup flour =4.5 ounces and 1 stick butter = 4 ounces). Check. Check.
  • We added a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of sugar since this was a dessert recipe.
  • When mixing in the flour, continue to stir for an extra minute or two after the flour is incorporated. It takes a bit of muscle to stir in the eggs, so you can pull out your electric mixer if you’d like. Make sure to stir for at least a minute after the last egg is incorporated….the batter should be satiny. 
  • For the best rise, start at a high temp, 425º, then decrease the temp after 15 minutes or so. Underbaking will cause your Paris-Brest to deflate…make sure it is a deep golden brown and firm before removing your puff from the oven.

 

Tips for Making a Paris-Brest

Besides using a chocolate instead of a vanilla pastry cream, and omitting the nuts in the filling, the only other tweak I made to Dorie’s recipe was to bake the pastry inside the ring of an 8-inch springform pan. My fellow Dorista, Mary, has picked up on my perfectionist tendencies, and this helped ensure a round result.

This is my second time making this dessert. The first time was to honor a foodie friend who lost her battle against myleodysplastic syndrome. A  group of us baked recipes from her blog in her memory. I made a white chocolate whipped cream to fill my pastry ring. It is a very similar Paris-Brest recipe and that’s what I’m sharing below.

A few tips from Epicurious and Dorie for making this dessert ahead of time:

  • Choux ring can be baked 8 hours ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then kept, loosely covered with foil , at room temperature.
  • The cooled ring can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen up to 1 week. It will need to be thawed, in its wrapping, then recrisped in a 350º oven for 10 minutes, cooled then filled.
  • Pastry cream can be made 3 days ahead of time. Store, covered, in the refrigerator and whisk before using.
  • Paris-Brest can be assembled 2 hours before serving and kept at cool room temperature.

This recipe can be found in Dorie’s cookbook, Around My French Table. The publishers have asked us not to print the recipes which have not been shared on-line, but feel free to check out the link to my previous attempt below. If you love this recipe, you’ll find much more inspiration from all my Dessert Recipes.

frenchfridayswithdorie
Paris-Brest

Paris-Brest

A ringed dessert made from choux pastry and filled with pastry cream or whipped cream

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield 8 servings

Ingredients

Pâté à Choux

  • 1 cup water
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds

Whipped Cream Filling

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • pinch salt
  • Extra confectioners sugar for dusting

White Chocolate Buttercream (I used half a batch):

  • 6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 4 eggs whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine water, butter, and ¼ tsp salt in a large heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat, add flour all at once, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a thick dough and pulls away from sides of pan, 1-2 minutes. Return pan to heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, allow dough to cool 5 minutes, then vigorously beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated.
  3. Place pâté à choux in a piping bag with a 1" tip (or Ziploc bag with a little piece of the corner cut off) and pipe a 1" rope into an 8" circle. Pipe another 1" rope inside the second one, being sure they touch. Finally pipe another 1" ring on top of where the other two rings meet.
  4. Mix beaten egg with 1/4 tsp salt and brush on pastry ring. Sprinkle on slivered almonds and bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and continue baking another 30 minutes. Turn off oven and open the door. Let cool for 5 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Cut a few slits in the side of the pastry to allow steam to escape and let cool to room temperature.

Filling:

  1. Whip cream with confectioners sugar and salt until stiff peaks form.
  2. Or melt the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, gently in the microwave…use 15-30 second intervals, stirring till melted. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Combine the egg whites and sugar in bowl of mixer. Place bowl over pot of simmering water so that the water comes a third of the way up the bowl. Whisk the egg whites till just hot to the touch, about 1-2 minutes.
  4. Use mixer on high to whip the eggs till thick and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Turn mixer speed to medium and add butter by tablespoon, making sure butter is mixed in before adding the next tablespoon. Add the chocolate and vanilla and mix till smooth. If the icing is too runny, refrigerate briefly till it thickens.

To Assemble:

  1. Using a sharp serrated knife, split the pastry crosswise. Lift off the top and fill with the whipped cream or white chocolate buttercream. Replace top and gently press. Not too much. You don't want all the filling to come out. Dust top with confectioners sugar and serve. Serves 8.

Notes

Adapted from Becky Shauberger Turner, AKA Decolady

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 570 Total Fat: 38g Saturated Fat: 20g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 15g Cholesterol: 278mg Sodium: 356mg Carbohydrates: 47g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 34g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 12g
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51 comments on “French Paris-Brest”

  1. That is one pretty bicycle wheel, Liz! You have served a seriously tasty treat to your family and your fans =)

    Great tips, too!

    Touching, poignant and lovely story about your first time baking the Paris-Brest.

  2. Sounds like a nice light dessert:@)

  3. I like your addition of raspberries. And hey, if Bill liked it, it must be good.

  4. So pretty Liz but I can’t believe you had to change even THIS sweet dish up for Bill!!!

  5. Where do you get fresh raspberries all the time? I am so jealous.. 🙂

  6. Oh Liz, this is beautiful. I don’t understand how it didn’t get gobbled up. (I don’t think your perfectionist tendencies are much of a secret – doling out perfect creations every time doesn’t come easy or from lack of attention to detail).

  7. This looks like the perfect Valentine’s dessert Liz. It’s beautiful, indulgent and unique! I hope someone sends me a Valentine half as pretty as this 🙂

  8. We love cream puffs so I think this Paris-Brest could be a winner in my house. I’m not much of a baker because of the “exact” measurements. I tend to do more savory meals that I could toss in whatever sounds good. But, I’m trying. I haven’t hopped over to look at Dorie’s recipe yet, but if I omit the sugar, it sounds like this could also be a sandwich ring filled with maybe a chicken salad. Would be something different to serve for a brunch. I’d keep the almonds for sure.

  9. Beautiful. Is the ring to keep the shape while baking? Or is it to get the ring piped in the right shape to start with? I would be too worried about it sticking…

  10. Oh my goodness – that is a beautiful thing! I’ve made a dessert using this cream puff pastry but would love to try making a “shaped” dessert like this. Too bad about the faux nut allergy – lol. Although, the advantage would be there was more for the baker to eat :).

  11. I commented on the wrong section…previous…I think, about your gorgeous, and superb Paris Brest! xoxo

  12. Gorgeousnesssss!!! I looove this beautiful giant ring of a pastry!!

    and uh yeah, chocolate is always a nice addition 😛

  13. That ring is just glorious. Of course it needs to be filled with a vanilla cream instead of chocolate, but it’s not me you’re aiming to please. 🙂

  14. How perfect to add a splash of color with the raspberries!

  15. This is one of my favorite French classic desserts! I have made several and I think I was 10 when I made my first. I a always amazed by the process of making choux pastry. Your Paris Brest looks divine, love the filling here.

  16. Beautiful photos! I am glad you were able to get your husband to try this! I did chocolate pastry cream as well. 🙂

  17. Oh Liz… now you are speaking my language, darling. How beautiful… well done! Pinned.

  18. When I look at your Paris-Brest I do not think “bicycle tire” but we’ve always know those French have some kind of an imagination. And, despite the few errant almond slices, that is one heck of a gorgeous pastry dessert. It’s probably just as well that I waited to make this dessert until all the facts and tips were in. I am going to do some practice runs before returning to Colorado to serve this up to biker dudes. As you know, I did bring my favorite springform pan to Cambria. So thank you for the hints and suggestions. I’m all over them. Nice job, Ms. Berg. Very nice.

  19. I didn’t know Bill has a faux nut allergy! I love the look of this dessert and love how it came about. I think the chocolate cream was a great idea. How lovely that your mother made lots of cream puffs – the best way to learn is to watch someone else xx

  20. Lizzy,
    The dessert looks fabulous. You always find ways to make the hubby happy.
    Annamaria

  21. Maybe it didn’t get eaten up because your Paris-Brest is truly a work of art.

  22. Nice tribute to your friend, Liz. Howard actually tried this one, though he spent the week saying he wouldn’t. He didn’t love it, but he tried it. Have a great weekend.

  23. What an incredible pastry! Your chocolate filling sounds absolutely heavenly!

  24. I love your chocolate pastry cream filling in this one- The raspberries are a wonderful complement too. My hubby would love it, nuts and all! 🙂

  25. it looks so perfect and very delicious..i want a piece of that sweet raspberries in that creamy pastry

  26. This is incredible, Liz. My husband loves choux pastry..this would make a perfect birthday cake for him.

  27. oh my goodness, Liz! This is a masterpiece!! so beautiful! you are the baker extraordinaire!

  28. One of my favorite bakeries makes Paris brest and I’ve always wanted to try it. Now I can just make my own! This is beautiful!

  29. I love this look absolutely amazing dear Lizzy!! georgeous!! xxx

  30. Absolutely gorgeous, Lizzy! I used that same recipe from Epicurious for tips on making this. It had some very good info in it! I especially liked the tip of poking holes in the brest just before it comes out of the oven, to let the steam escape. As always beautifully done with great photos! Happy Weekend!

  31. Your pastry looks perfect! I didn’t make the recipe this week (I had a guest that doesn’t eat dessert, and I’d already made an apple pie – so didn’t need more!). But this is a fun recipe. Sad to hear that you didn’t have a lot of people fighting over getting the last bite!

  32. This is so pretty, what a nice pastry to make for the weekend.

  33. Wow, I’ve never though about making something this big out of choux pastry. It’s beautiful, Liz…and I bet delicious too! 🙂 ela

  34. I too have fond memories of making cream puffs with mom. We thought they were super-sophisticated. Glad the hubs tried some of this! 🙂

  35. This is a very ambitious dessert and you aced it. Many years ago I tried my hand at pate choux and remember being very frustrated with the results. Yours is so pretty, and it makes me want to try again.

  36. How gourmet my friend! French desserts are so difficult but you did beautifully 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  37. Well this is going to be my dessert for the next gathering with my friends. It really looks very light and appealing to almost everyone I know.

  38. I have not heard of this dessert before… but I would definitely want to eat it. 🙂 You did a beautiful job!

  39. It’s been so long since I’ve made one of these. I’m sure mine never looked this good!

  40. Gorgeous! I was mightly tempted to make this with the chocolate pastry cream because I haven’t tried the recipe yet. Instead I made the almond pastry cream and then made Dorie’s bittersweet chocolate sauce over it. De-lish!

  41. Oh my Liz you are a perfectionist! But I love it! I learn so much from your photographs and recipes! This is definitely one of the best I have seen!

  42. I should have used a ring! Don’t know why I wanted to try free handing it. I must examine my tendency towards taking the hard road. Yours looks beautiful and pretty darn perfect. Which neighbor ate this one? I swear if I could convince Gary we would move in next door to your!

  43. Lovely! These were always a special treat for me in Paris. I love the chocolate sub.

  44. Gorgeous. How wonderful to have used chocolate cream and raspberries. What a wonderful idea!

  45. Liz, what a perfect Paris-Brest – it looks stunning. Next time I make one for guests, I think I will go with your chocolate pastry cream – the finished pastry looks so delicious with it.

  46. It’s gorgeous, Liz. Aren’t you tired of cooking and baking for picky people? I mean, if you were to move in here and bake for us non-picky people, you would be so much more appreciated. Don’t you think? 🙂

  47. Oh yes, the classic Paris Brest! Something they taught me in culinary school, and I figured I would never see or hear of again. But I’m glad I have. This is so beautiful, Liz. Your baking skills never cease to impress me.

  48. Absolutely stunning! Isn’t funny how picky our spouses can be – mine had no interest in it while I was making it, and in fact was complaining the dessert, but ended up eating all of it!

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