Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gateau Saint Honore

Gateau Saint Honore

I'm having a slice of the cake while I type this. It is good, but I can’t say it’s my cup of tea…
I love puff pastry and even used the amount I had left to make lunch today. The Saint Honore cream is so delicious that I was afraid there was not going to be enough to assemble the cake – I kept reaching for spoons in my drawer and dipping them into the smooth mixture, promising that it would be the last time I was going to do that. Caramel is caramel – the word itself makes my mouth water. Cream puffs are a classic – everybody likes them, even my-not--into-sweets husband. So, what’s wrong?

In my humble opinion, all these incredibly delicious things just don’t go well together – I know it sounds insane since this cake is such a big staple in patisserie and all, but for me it wasn’t all that.

I’m glad I could try making cream puffs for the first time – actually, João is way happier with it than me. :)
I still have a lot to learn and improve and I thank the two ladies behind this for making the opportunity I needed to start trying my hand on that.

I’m sure the other Daring Bakers have some interesting cakes and points of view to share – you can find their links on the sidebar.

Since I used store-bought puff pastry I’m not going to post the recipe for that – only for the rest of the cake.

Oh, and let's forget the fact that my caramel decorations suck.

Gateau Saint Honore

Pate a Choux – Cream Puffs Dough:
135g (4 ¾ oz) all purpose flour
240ml (1 cup) water
58g (2 oz) unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
240ml (1 cup) eggs

Sift the flour and set aside.Heat the water, butter and salt to a full rolling boil, so that the fat is not just floating on the top but is dispersed throughout the liquid.Stir the flour into the liquid with a heavy wooden spoon, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed. Avoid adding it all at once or it will form clumps.
Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up the lumps if necessary, by pressing them against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 2-3 minutes.Transfer the dough to a mixer bowl. Let the paste cool slightly so that the eggs will not cook when they are added. You can add and stir the eggs by hand but it requires some serious elbow grease.
Mix in the eggs, one at a time, using the paddle attachment on low or medium speed. Do not add all the eggs at once. Check after a few, the dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise – I ended up using only 4 out of 5 eggs.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag and use as desired.

Saint Honore Cream (Rapid Chiboust or Diplomat Cream):
7g (1 envelope) unflavored gelatin
60ml (¼ cup) cold water
130g (½ cup + 2 tablespoons) sugar
70g (½ cup) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
480ml (2 cups) whole milk
1 tablespoon rum – I used vanilla extract
60ml (¼ cup) whipping cream
3 egg whites
dash of salt
100g (½ cup sugar)

Soak the gelatin in the ¼ cup of cold water.
Put the sugar, flour, and salt into a saucepan and stir together with a whisk. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk.Place over low heat and stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.Stir in the whipping cream. Set the mixing bowl in cold water and stir until the cream is cool. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and using clean beaters, whip them with the dash of salt. As soon as the whites begin to stiffen, gradually add the ½ cup of sugar and beat until they are very stiff.
Fold the egg whites into the cooled cream.

240g (8 oz) sugar

240ml (1 cup) heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar - I used 1 tablespoon

Assembly the cake:
Roll the puff pastry out to 3mm (1/8 in) thick, 30xm (12 in) square. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate covered at least 20 minutes.While the puff pastry is resting, make the pate a choux and place it in a pastry bag with a #4 (8mm) plain tip. Reserve.Leaving the puff pastry on the sheet pan, cut a 27.5cm (11 in) circle from the dough and remove the scraps. (An easy way to cut it is to use an 11in tart pan as a “cookie cutter”). Prick the circle lightly with a fork.Pipe 4 concentric rings of pate a choux on the pastry circle – as I made a smaller cake, I piped only 2 circles. Pipe out 12 cream puffs the size of Bing cherries onto the paper around the cake – I used only 8 cream puffs.Bake the puff pastry circle and the cream puffs at 205ºC (400ºF) until the pate a choux has puffed, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190ºC (375ºF) and bake until everything is dry enough to hold its shape, about 35 minutes longer for the cake and 8 minutes longer for the cream puffs (just pick them up and take them out as they are done).
Place about 114g (4 oz) of the Saint Honore Cream in a pastry bag with a #2 (4mm) plain tip. Use the pastry bag tip or the tip of a paring knife to make a small hole in the bottom of each cream puff. Pipe the cream into the cream puffs to fill them. Refrigerate.Spread the remaining cream filling on the cake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set the cream. Caramelize the 240g (8 oz) of sugar. Fill a bowl that is large enough to hold the pan used for cooking the sugar with enough cold water to reach halfway up the sides of the pan. Set the bowl aside. Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and cook until the sugar until it has caramelized to just a shade lighter than the desired color.Remove from the heat and immediately place the bottom of the pan in the bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process. Dip the cream puffs into the hot caramel, using 2 forks or tongues to avoid burning your fingers. Place them on a sheet pan. The caramel must be hot enough to go on in a thin layer. Reheat if necessary as you are dipping, stirring constantly to avoid darkening the caramel any more than necessary. Also, avoid any Saint Honore cream to leak out of the puffs and get mixed in with the caramel while dipping as the cream can cause the sugar to recrystallize.
Whip the one cup of heavy cream and teaspoon of sugar to stiff peaks. Place the whipped cream in pastry bag fitted with a #5 (10mm) star tip. Pipe a border of whipped cream around the top of the cake. Arrange the cream puffs, evenly spaced, on top of the filling, next to the cream – I decided to secure them using caramel.

Option: Before filling the cake, take care of the cream puffs, dip them in more caramel, hook them up to the base. Fill with the cream filling and fill the holes with the whipped cream.


Helene said...

That's why the world goes round: not everybody has the same taste and that is just fine because I am on my way to your house with my spoon! Excellent job!

Anne said...

I do believe this cake is not meant to be beautiful but somehow the taste makes up for it. I too wouldn't be making this cake again although I have to admit it was delicious. It's such a shame you didn't like it that much but then again it still looks lovely to me. well done!

Nora B. said...

Patricia, that is a fantastic effort! Well done. I understand what you mean about how some things tastes better on its own rather than together. I've only eaten this cake once before and I don't remember how it tasted, so it probably did not make a great impression because my memory for food is embarrassingly good.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

The Daring Bakers have made another really interesting choice this month. I don't think I'd have the courage to try this!

Anonymous said...

I think you did great Patricia! Your cake has caramel decorations, mine dissolved before I was able to take a picture. The cream was very yummy. If there is something I would change from this recipe... I would top it with chocolate instead of caramel...

Canadian Baker said...

I'm so glad you're a Daring Baker. Your cake is lovely and all that you have an extra fork? :)

Anonymous said...

Great job! I still think it looks beautiful, and I will gladly come down and eat the cake for you. ;D

Anh said...

You are a super woman Pat - working, running two food blogs, cooking and baking and more! And all your creations are always tasty and beautiful. :) Thanks for inspiring me to come back to the kitchen. I haven't been in cooking much lately.

Anonymous said...

The cake is beautiful, Patricia. And about the flavor, I love the subtle taste mine had without the rum and with citrus flavors instead... or something I considered doing but couldn´t do since I couldn´t change the recipe was adding some dulce de leche rings next to the puff rings with the creme all over it, drool.
Anyways, before I get carried away and write an essay, I wanted to say congratulations on a job well done :) We´ll see what June brings!

Lis said...

Your sugar decorations do not suck! I love them. I want to pick them off the cake and nibble until they are all gone. hee!

I think you did an excellent job, and if your hubby is anything like mine.. the cream puffs didn't last long in your house, eh? :D

Well done, sweetie!!


Gattina Cheung said...

Pat, oh I love to read your review *kiss* I felt the same way too, but the time order different... before I baked it, I had a prejudice against this cake, feeling puff pastry + cream puffs this combination was too funny. But after I did it (and "played" something around the cream puffs) felt the combo ok. Anyway, that's great about we baking the same thing together, sharing our different points of views :D Pat, your cake is really wonderful!

Brilynn said...

I thought the cake as a whole looked pretty, but I'm with you, it wasn't my favourite thing to eat, despite the fact that i devoured each individual element.

Elle said...

You made a great cake & I like the modern art effect of your caramel. Sorry that the parts were more appealing than the whole. If I had to choose, I'd just make the cream puffs with the pastry cream filling. Glad you are among the DBs!

Alpineberry Mary said...

That's why I love being a DB. We are encouraged to try new and different recipes. Some things end up being great and others are not really one's cup of tea. But it was very nice effort Patricia. And your caramel decorations don't suck. =)

Alice Q. Foodie said...

I liked the puffs and the cream, not sure if I really needed all of it together though. I'm with Mary though - the idea is to try new things and expand the horizons. Cheers to that!

Ilva said...

Your cake is great and you can use your caramel decorations to scoop up the cream in the middle, that's a wonderful invention I think!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I am with you. I find the individual elements of the cake are totally awesome too. YOurs looks grand Pat! Hugs!

Kelly-Jane said...

Well, I think it's yummy lovely and delicious looking. That's a pity you didn't like it as a whole though. Well done :)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

This would not be my cake of choice but I'm so glad to have done the cream puffs and the cream was pretty spectacular.
Now about your caramel, that stuff is just beautiful stuff! That's the best hard candy there is! Ahem, just maybe doesn't go on "cake".
Beautiful job Pat we've done the Saint now, what will June bring.

Freya said...

I think you did a great job! Sorry that you didn't like it - but the cream puffs were great on their own, right?

Anonymous said...

I think your gateau is lovely, Patricia, and I fear that even if I bring my fork down to Brazil, there wouldn't be any left!! I'm so glad you participated, and are a DB!

Anonymous said...

Your caramel decor does not suck! I think it looks edgy and dramatic! I wish I could have a taste...

Please infect me with some of your daring Patricia! :)

"my-not--into-sweets husband" --> we are so in the same situation!

Jenny said...

Your caramel doesn't suck, there is just alot of it!
Glad you enjoyed making it and hope you are looking forward to the next challenge!
Good work DB!

Karin W. said...

Oh my God! This looks complicated. All that trouble and you didn´t even like them.
My mother´s old cookbook says: "Melt butter, stir in flour, add water .... in that order... before you start beating in the eggs.
I wonder ... haven´t tried it. Probably will.

La pâte à choux

Stella said...

Hey Pat,
your cake looks lovely, it doesn't need to be perfect, it's your participation that counts!
Frankly, I don't really care about decorations, I love cakes which taste better than they look:)

Nazca said...

I was thinking of doing shards or caramel but then just felt that drizzling was the for the best. My rum cocktail was getting warm after all ;-)

Anonymous said...

Whew! That was certaily a lot of work, wasn't it. And you even included the recipe in your post. I am soooooooooo lazy. Your caramel looks terrific!

Valentina said...

Pat, I also find that this cake is one busy creation. There is so much going on I get a bit dizzy. I did like the individual parts though. I really like your cake. You managed to get the cream puffs small and delicate. Mine were on the big size. ; o )

Anita said...

Just wanted to let you know your post is linked on my site now - sorry for the lateness. I think your decorations look wonderful! And I agree, even if you don't like all the components together, they can be enjoyed separately!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Great job on such a challenging assignment! It looks like a piece of edgy art with those caramel spikes.

Anonymous said...

I just realized you weren't on my DB list -- I've added you!

Laura said...

I don't know Patricia, looks pretty damn fine to me!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Helen, I'd be more then glad to share it with you, sweetie! Thank you!

Anne, thank you - and how great to have you back!

Nora, you are a wonderful baker and it's a relief to know your opinion!

Lydia, me neither - but I'm glad I did!

Veron, that idea is fantastic - chocolate makes anything better!

Jen, I'm in such great company, sweetie! Please, join me. :)

Amy, I'd bake one specially for you!

Anh, you are super adorable, that's it! Thank you for the lovely words - coming from someone I deeply admire it just made my day.

Marce, you used citrus! I love the idea of adding dulce de leche. It really made my mouth water!
You are so sweet, thank you for the kind words!

Lis, I had to make extra cream puffs for him, otherwise the cake would have no decoration. :)

Gattina, my dear, your chocolate cream puffs are to die for! I absolutely adore your cake!

Bri, my thoughts exactly!

Elle, I couldn't agree with you more, sweetie. The cream puffs were really something with that delicious cream and the caramel on top.

Mary, I really had fun making the cake and I agree with you that the challenges are about pushing the envelope a little bit. Thank you for your kind words!

Alice, cheers!

Ilva, I think you had an excellent idea!

Meeta, thank you! I think your cake rocked the world, dear!

Kelly-Jane, it's fine - I'm glad I learned something new! Thank you!

Tanna, I can't wait to see the next challenge - and I'm glad you liked my gateau!

Freya, the cream puffs were delicious!

Gilly, you'll be more than welcome! I am glad too to be in such great company, you girls are amazing!

Joey, our husbands are really something, aren't they? ;)
You are so sweet, my dear friend!

Quellia, I'm glad to be part of such an excellent team! Thank you!!

Karin, I was afraid of making cream puffs but it was not as difficult as I thought. I'll check that link, tks for sharing!

Valentina, you are so right, sweetie!

Nazca, I really liked your idea!

Kelly, you are not lazy! Your photos are beautiful.

Tina, my cream puffs were small but my caramel decorations were monstrous. :)

Anita, don't worry, sweetie! João has already asked me to make cream puffs again, can you believe it? :)

Lynn, I'm glad you like it, and thank you for the compliments!

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Hi Patricia, I think yours looks great! I'd have had my head in the oven long before it was finished.

Cris said...

Just wish I were your neighbor... :-)

breadchick said...

Don't be so hard on yourself or your caramel decoratons. I think they have a wild, untamed look that is perfect and so different than the other types of cakes we all did. Good for you!

Cheryl said...

I love your caramel decorations. You make me wish I would have used more caramel. Its a beautiful gateau.

Cris said...

I forgot to mention that I have an invitation for you on my English food blog. xoxox

Peabody said...

There are a lot of elements to this cake and I actually would get rid of the pastry cream and just use whipped cream next time.

Anonymous said...


What an interesting post! I was so happy that it all turned out that I didn't give much thought to how the elements of the cake go together.

I agree with you about the cream! Job well done!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

That's too bad that you didn't love it, Patricia. After all that work, I still give you a gold star! :)

Kirsten said...

Wow! Another brave baker ploughs through this recipe!!

After all that work, I may not have liked the cake either and would have been much more ready for a large glass of wine!! :)

It turned out beautiful though, great work!!

Melting Wok said...

Ok, to you and all the daring bakers, I've somehow got the courage..I still remembered what you said on my pie post, you asked me to bake more hehe, ok, so I did, thx to you, and the rest. This one's a keeper, will have to jot this down and wait for my next courage hehe :)

Anonymous said...

Another great challenge! I would be the same way as you... I think everything tastes better in the simple form. Looks fantastic though!

Warda said...

Beautiful decoration Patricia as always. I know what you mean about the cake. I had the same feeling about it. It was just not working for me. The idea of a puff pastry+puff cream+ the cream+caramel+whipped cream is just too much for me. I had only a bite of it and that was about it. The cake tasted very good but too much carbs for me and too much sugar.

Andrea said...

Wow, I didn't know there was such a thing as The Daring Bakers! This sounds like a lot of fun!

Susan said...

My mom and I made this together years ago. It was like being on a construction site. I can only think it came out as well as it did because of the shared work. I can certainly see your point; very rich and sweet, over the top, really. You may not like how your caramel came out, but I'll bet, Patricia, you make a mean doce de leite!

Claudia said...

I think your caramel decorations are lovely. They sort of remind me of those feather hats from the 40's, there there would be a spray of pheasant feathers from these gorgeous ladies hats. Nice.

sher said...

Seriously, when I saw your caramel on top my heart did flip flops! It looks so yummy to me--and I swould probably pull them off and pop them into my mouth! :):) Here's to next month's challenge!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Amanda, thank you! I had a laugh with your comment, sweetie. :)

Cris, I think that would be so good. :)

Mary, I like the way you see it. :)

Cheryl, I love caramel!

Cris, I'll check that out, tks!

Peabody, I'd the the opposite, like Lis did. :)

Ivonne, I tried commenting on your cake but didn't find the comment window!

Susan, thank you!

Kirsten, a glass of wine is always welcome. :)

Melting Wok, your muffins are so adorable! You should definitely bake more!

Kristen, I'd change this for that luxurious cake you made. :)

Rose, thank you. You are so kind, my dear friend. Too many zillion calories, you are right!

Andrea, you should join us!

Susan, my kitchen was a mess after I finished it. :)
And your Portuguese is really good, where did you learn? ;)

Claudia, your comment made my day. :)

Sher, I can't wait to see what Quellia will choose for us. I'm sorry that you weren't fine, sweetie.
And thank you for your kind words!

Dolores said...

Interesting perspective on the experience. I've actually had several professionally prepared versions of Gateau St. Honore (it was one of my father's favorites)... and my experience was that it looked far prettier and fussier than it tasted. Ironically I like the taste of my homemade version far better -- a good thing since what it had in taste, it lacked in looks. But even then, I didn't think the whole was any greater than the sum of its parts. In the end, I enjoyed the experience more for exposing me to new skills that I can apply elsewhere in my culinary explorations.

Anonymous said...

This is such a hard challenge. Actually, I really can not imagine a harder one! You have done a very good job though!

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