Monday, 19 July 2010

Paris-Brest revisited

I had been planning on making Paris-Brest for a long time but have been knocked back on numerous occasions due to my futile attempts at tracking down praline paste in the big smoke. Basically, it is impossible to get hold of the stuff on the high street and so far, it seems only tradespeople can order it from suppliers and at that, the minimum size is a 5kg tub! Luckily for me, my pesky persistence finally paid off when I managed to track down a company online called Home Chocolate Factory which stocked praline paste in 1kg tubs AND sold to non-trade peeps, woohoo! After a quick phonecall, I managed to get my hands on the last tub they had in stock in superfast time cos they insisted on sending it to me via DHL since it was an edible product!

The next step was to consult my recipe notes from school and surprisingly, there were a few holes when it came to the method of making Paris-Brest. Thanks to the power of email, I managed to track down a few of my chums from school for some advice and managed to plug in my gaps of knowledge (special mention has to go to Won for his "super notes"!)

I had set aside a Sunday to make a Paris-Brest and started off by making the choux pastry. Initially, I had been tempted to make this by machine as the thought of mixing egg into the pastry was already aching my arm but in the end, decided against it and made it lovingly by hand instead! My 1st batch didn't even make it to the egg stage cos I had stupidly weighed double the amount of flour meaning that the mixture was rock hard at the "flour" stage, doh! It was no biggie, just had to weigh out the correct amount of flour and start again  - the egg mixing stage was a lot easier than I remembered which was a real bonus, I have the right muscles/skill to make choux now! :)

I then piped out the choux and popped it into the oven to bake -  my chef's notes on baking times ("Bake until cooked"????) have been notoriously inconspicuous in my recipe book meaning that I had to get reference of times on the internet which called for 15-20 minutes. The choux was looking OK after this time, it had risen and was a nice deep brown colour so I thought "yep, I can take it out". After 10 minutes or so, it then occurred to me that the choux should NOT be soft and that's when I realised that I had been a complete numpty and hadn't cooked it for long enough, aaaagh! The Paris-Brest was then popped into the oven for a bit longer but at this point, it was damage limitation and I was dearly hoping that it wasn't going to stay soggy! :(

Once the choux was cooked, then it was onto making the pastry cream for the Paris-Brest cream - all pretty straightforward there. The final step was to make the Paris-Brest cream which involved whisking pastry cream with praline paste and softened butter - the good news was that my cream didn't lose volume and turn into a liquid like last time!! The bad news was that I had miscalculated the amount of cream needed and didn't have enough for my Paris-Brest, poo! The choux recipe made more than 1 large Paris-Brest so I figured that the Paris-Brest cream was for the whole choux recipe and decided to go for half the amount just to fill the 1 pastry, how wrong was I??? Luckily for me, my Paris-Brest was smaller than the one I made at school meaning that I needed less cream but I was still left a couple of inches short - a bit bummed at that.

Other than that, it came out pretty well and got the seal of approval from the b-day boy so was happy about that. I have a few things to tweak for next time but it's all good :)
   So close and yet so far, damn!!

Now you see it, now you don't hehe! (the bit with no cream is at the back!)

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