Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gateau Saint Honore


This month's Daring Bakers challenge of Gateau Saint Honore was, umm, challenging. But it was challenging for all the right reasons as opposed to last month's crepe cake which was challenging for the wrong reasons. According to hostesses Anita and Helene, both pastry professionals, Gateau Saint Honore is a required element to complete many pastry school programs. Multiple components and techniques are used to make this magnificent cake. A puff pastry base piped with pate a choux (cream puff dough), topped with caramel topped cream puffs filled with pastry cream encircling more pastry cream and topped with swirls of lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Anita and Helene gave us the option to substitute the rum in the Saint Honore cream with a flavoring of our choice. In my never ending quest to use up my meyer lemons, I chose lemon to flavor my cream. I cut strips of zest from 2 meyer lemons and steeped them with the milk. The lemon infused cream was my favorite part.

The gateau was absolutely delicious. But what's not to love about butter, cream, eggs, and sugar in various proportions and applications? Even though all the individual parts turned out well, I had some problems with my gateau.

I made my cream puffs too big and could only place 6 on each of my 2 rectangular bases. And since my cream puff border was a bit sparse, my Saint Honore cream was not "contained" properly and started dripping off the base in the spaces between the cream puffs.

My cream puffs didn't come out smooth enough so I piped my cream filling into the cracks on the side of the cream puff instead of the bottom of the puff. I forgot to face the "opening" inward when gluing so some of the holes (and the filling) are visible from the presentation side of the gateau.

Although the caramel added a nice flavor component and contrast to the GSH, my caramel disk atop the cream puffs were a bit thick and hard to eat. Sadly I had to cut off the tops of the puffs to remove the caramel.

I tried to make caramel sugar threads with the remaining caramel but it was a particularly humid day and the sugar just got all gummy. So no fancy spun sugar decoration for my gateau this time.

My piping skills are pretty much non-existent so my whipped cream decoration looks amateur.

So there you have it. Another installation of the Daring Bakers mission accomplished. We are now 48 Daring Bakers strong (including our very first man). By the way, Saint Honore is the patron saint of pastry chefs. I hope we made him proud.

piped pate a choux on puff pastry rectangles (before and after gluing filled cream puffs to the base)

Note: I made some modifications to Helene and Anita's original recipe.

I didn't mention this in the assembly step but instead of an 11-inch diameter circle of puff pastry, I cut 2 rectangles instead. I adjusted my baking time accordingly.

I glued my filled cream puffs to my puff pastry/pate a choux base with caramel instead of setting them on the cream.

As I mentioned in the Saint Honore cream directions I used meyer lemon zest in my Saint Honore Cream. Feel free to use other flavorings like vanilla, rum, or Grand Marnier (which should be added to the warm cream while adding the gelatin).

I didn't have the specified sized pastry tips so I used whatever pastry tips I had on hand.

Gateau Saint Honore

-- Puff Pastry
-- Pate a Choux (Cream Puff Dough)
-- Saint Honore Cream
-- 1 cup granulated sugar (for caramel)
-- 1 cup heavy whipping cream + 1 tsp sugar (for decoration)


Puff Pastry
(makes about 2 1/2 lbs)

Dough package
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, well chilled
1 1/4 cups cold water

Butter package
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
14 ounces (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, well-chilled

1/ Make the dough package: In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours with the salt. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture; using your fingers or a pastry cutter, incorporate butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2/ Form a well in center of mixture, and pour the water into well. Using your hands, gradually draw flour mixture over the water, covering and gathering until mixture is well blended and begins to come together. Gently knead mixture in the bowl just until it comes together to form a dough, about 15 seconds. Pat dough into a rough ball, and turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly, and place in refrigerator to chill 1 hour.
3/ Make the butter package: Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon flour on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Place uncut sticks of butter on top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon flour. Top with another sheet of paper; using a rolling pin, pound butter to soften and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Remove top sheet of paper, and fold butter package in half onto itself. Replace top sheet of paper, and pound again until butter is about 1/2 inch thick. Repeat process two or three times, or until butter becomes quite pliable. Using your hands, shape butter package into a 6-inch square. Wrap well in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator until it is chilled but not hardened, no more than 10 minutes.
4/ Assemble and roll the dough: Remove dough package from refrigerator, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll dough into a 9-inch round. Remove butter package from refrigerator, and place it in the center of the dough round. Using a paring knife or bench scraper, lightly score the dough to outline the butter square; remove butter, and set it aside. Starting from each side of the center square, gently roll out dough with the rolling pin, forming four flaps, each 4 to 5 inches long; do not touch the raised square in the center of the dough. Replace butter package on the center square. Fold flaps of dough over the butter package so that it is completely enclosed. Press with your hands to seal.
5/ Using the rolling pin, press down on the dough at regular intervals, repeating and covering the entire surface area, until it is about 1 inch thick. Gently roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 9 by 20 inches, with one of the short sides closest to you. Be careful not to press too hard around the edges, and keep the corners even as you roll out the dough by squaring them with the side of the rolling pin or your hands. Brush off any excess flour. Starting at the near end, fold the rectangle in thirds as you would a business letter; this completes the first single turn. Wrap in plastic wrap; place in refrigerator 45 to 60 minutes.
6/ Remove dough from refrigerator and repeat process in step 5 giving it five more single turns. Always start with the flap opening on the right as if it were a book. Mark the dough with your knuckle each time you complete a turn to help you keep track. Chill 1 hour between each turn. After the sixth and final turn, wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before using.

Pate a Choux (Cream Puff Dough)

4 3/4 ounce all purpose flour
1 cup water
2 ounces (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup eggs (5 large 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. It'll look like a mess but will come together after the addition of the last egg. Now the dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag and use as desired.

Saint Honore Cream

1 envelope unflavored gelatin (7 gram)
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
zest from 2 meyer lemons (in strips)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Soak the gelatin in the 1/4 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 and the strips of lemon zest.
Place over low heat and stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from heat and strain to remove the strips of lemon zest. Stir in the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Stir in the heavy whipping cream (yes, it is unwhipped). 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 pinch of salt. As soon as the whites begin to stiffen, gradually add the 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until they are very stiff. Fold the egg whites into the cooled cream.


Roll the puff pastry out to 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, 12 inch square (30 cm). 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 an 11 inch (27.5 cm) circle from the dough and remove the scraps. (An easy way to cut it is to use an 11inch tart pan as a “cookie cutter”). Prick the circles lightly with a fork.
Pipe 4 concentric rings of Pate a Choux on the pastry circle. Pipe out 12 cream puffs the size of Bing cherries onto the paper around the cake.
Bake the puff pastry circle and the cream puffs at 400F (205C) until the pate a choux has puffed, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375F (190C) 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 4 oz (114 gr) 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 1 cup of sugar

Fill a bowl that is large enough to hold the pan used for cooking the sugar with enough iced 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 iced water for about 10 seconds 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 whipping cream + 1 tsp 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.



Anonymous said...

Hi Mary,

I love your breakdown of the components! A very informative post and your gateau is so elegant and gorgeous. Hold on. I'm coming over with a fork!

Freya said...

I love the rectangular gateaux that I've seen today - I think they look the most elegant. Also, I love the idea of the lemon addition!

Anonymous said...

What lovely rectangular gateau! I like the picture where you labeled the elements. I had a problem with spun sugar too but I think my problem is not knowing how instead of the humidity.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

I love this, Mary. Truly delish! And I agree with Freya - the rectanglular shaped gateaux look really elegant!!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I beg to differ, your whip cream piped very beautifully Mary. Truly this was a challenge for all the right reasons. The rectangle is elegant! Now, we're ready for June as soon as all these Gateau are finished off!

Sara said...

Square! Very cool idea. They are very pretty.

Peabody said...

I love the picture that points out what all the ingredients are...very cool idea!

Unknown said...

Oh, you put the cream puffs on before adding the custard cream in the middle? I should have thought of that. Caramel doesn't glue well to custard. Hee.

Lis said...

LOVE it, Mary! I am so loving all of these whipped cream stars.. they look so pretty on this cake!

And the diagram picture at the end.. perfect. Now that would have been a great thing to have at the very beginning of May, yes? =)

Way to go, sweetie!

Helene said...

Stop tempting me with Meyer Lemons...!!! Seriously, gorgeous you know why French people miss a lot of teeth...caramel!

Storybook Woods said...

What a fun tutorial. Thank you, I think the girls would have blast making this. Clarice

Warda said...

This is I think the third or fourth cake in a rectangular shape that I see today and I think the gateau looks great in this shape. Great idea showing all the different components of the cake on your picture.

breadchick said...

Holy Batman Mary! That looks like it came from the Patassiere down the street in Paris! I love how you showed all the steps as well. Fantastic shape!!

Canadian Baker said...

Great detailed post Mary! I love the rectangular shape you decided on. Great job!

Cheryl said...

Your picture with the components is an awesome idea. That is a great teaching tool. I think your piping skills are just fine and your gateau is beautiful.

Elle said...

The long rectangles are very elegant and I think your piping is very nice. The caramel caps do seem thick, but they are just like the photo on the cover of a baking book from the library, so that must be the correct way. A great post overall Mary.

Brilynn said...

I like how your brokedown the elements in the last pic too! It helps to show how much work actually went into it.

Heather said...

I like your labeled picture! I have never tried doing that before.
Great write up.

Alice Q. Foodie said...

Beautiful Mary, I love the shape - and your diagram!

Ilva said...

Mary, you are just too hard on yourself, I can't see any of the defects you are writing about. The cake is beautiful!

Laura said...

It is a thing of beauty!

Nazca said...

Looks very nice, and the best part is there are two!!! :D

Kelly-Jane said...

It looks great! I love all the pictures that you have posted, a real 'how to' Well done :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, Mary! Great minds think alike - we both did rectangles! I really liked your picture with the breakdown of all of the components - I think that is very useful in trying to explain how the cake is constructed. Beautiful work!

Jenny said...

Your rectangular shapes was what I had been aiming for with my second batch, though yours look great!
Nice work DB!

Sara - Piperita said...

Your cream puffs look just wonderful to me!!!
Nice the square choice for the gateau...

Patricia Scarpin said...

Mary, I love the shape of your gateau - simply beautiful!

And now I'm dreaming about the lemon scented cream. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is really an excellent post. I love the rectangle because it's different. And I agree that this recipe was challenging for all the right reasons. That's how we learn! Yours is quite beautiful in spite of all you mentioned. On to the next challenge!

Anita said...

I really like the rectangular shape and you decorated it so nicely! Beautiful!

Valentina said...

Mary, oh, how gorgeous.How do you manage to consistently create wonderful things?!

Chris said...

This is wonderful. And, thanks for the breakdown and the labeled picture!

Dolores said...

I love the rectangular look and I wish I'd had your 'component-ized' picture before I started my adventures with St. Honore.

Lisa Johnson said...

What a beautiful creation! I had never heard of GSH before. There's so much to learn!

Nina Roux: The Sweet, The Savory and The Sass said...

what an incredible undertaking! Where do you find the time!? This is so beautiful...

Karen Baking Soda said...

Love the rectangle and your piping skills are admirable!

Anonymous said...

You did such a beautiful job! Gorgeous.