The Paris-Brest cake was invented in 1910, by pastry chef Louis Durand of Patisserie Durand in Maisons-Laffitte. It was inspired by the famous cycle ride between Paris and Brest in Brittany. The round elements represent the wheel of a bike. The cake is made from choux pastry, filled with praline cream and garnished with flaked almonds.
Patisserie Durand still exists at Maisons-Laffitte, a suburb of Paris. And, of course their best seller is a Paris-Brest cake!
Ingredients for one large Paris-Brest cake
125g all-purpose flour
80g unsalted butter
75g whole hazelnuts
75g whole almonds
pinch of salt
Praline Mousseline Creme
480 ml milk
4 egg yolks
30g cornflour (corn starch)
5g vanilla extract
15g unsalted butter
200g praline paste
150g unsalted butter
How to make Paris Brest:
It’s not a simple cake to make as there are different aspects to it, but the results make the time you take very worthwhile!
Prepare the praline paste
Preheat oven to 300F (150C) and toast the nuts on a baking tray for 15 minutes. Let them cool down and rub any skin off with a dry towel.
In a small saucepan heat the sugar and water over medium high heat until the mix turns light golden brown. Stir in the nuts and make sure they’re well coated with the caramel mix, pour onto a baking tray and leave until completely cooled.
Break the praline into small pieces and then pop in a food processer and grind to a thick paste. Keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Prepare the choux pastry
Line a large baking sheet with baking paper and on it draw an 8 inch (20 cm) circle. Flip the parchment paper, make sure the circle line is still visible through it.
Preheat oven to 350F (180C).
Sift the flour. In a saucepan bring the milk, water, sugar, salt and butter to a boil. Remove the pan from heat and add the sifted flour all at once. Mix it vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth.
Return the saucepan over low heat and cook for 1 minute or two, stirring the whole time. The aim is to get rid of moisture from the batter, you’ll know it’s ready when the mix pulls away from the sides of the pan and sticks to the bottom.
Transfer batter to a large bowl and leave it to cool. Then add the beaten eggs one at a time, stirring them into the batter to make a smooth mix which holds its shape.
Fit a pastry bag with a large ½ inch (1cm) round nozzle and pipe a circle of pastry round the ring you drew. Then pipe another circle inside it, and one more circle over the top, between the two circles you’ve already piped. Brush gently with beaten egg and sprinkle almond flakes over the top.
Bake for 45-50 minutes until the ring of pastry is golden brown and puffed up. Turn off the heat and let it cool in the oven for 15 minutes with the oven door slightly open. Remove the tray from the oven and prick the pastry with a toothpick to let the steam escape. Let it cool completely on a wire rack.
Praline Mousseline Creme
Start with the pastry cream. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until they are a slightly pale colour. Stir in the cornflour and flour.
Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Pour a third of the hot milk over the egg yolks mixture. Then pour the mixture into the saucepan with the milk. Bring the mix to a boil while constantly stirring until it’s a thick mix. Remove the pan from heat, add vanilla and one tablespoon of butter.
Pour the cream into a clean bowl. When it’s completely chilled mix it until its smooth and then add in the praline paste and mix. Gradually mix in the rest of the butter and continue mixing until creamy.
Cut the choux pastry in half and put one half on the dish you’ll serve it on, cooked side down.
Using a piping bag fitted with 1M nozzle, pipe a line of cream to fill the choux wheel on the tray – you’ll see it’s quite hollow. Then pipe a line of cream to fill the other half of the choux pastry and pop it over the top.
Stick it in the fridge for a least an hour before you serve it, dusted with icing sugar.
Add strawberries when in season, or raspberries, some people like to grate chocolate over it too or chocolate sauce…
This great video on YouTube shows you how to make Paris-Brest cake in easy steps:
It’s even perfect as a Paris-Brest Christmas dessert – with the addition of a whisky flavoured ganache!