The Gâteau St. Honoré is named after the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, St. Honoré or Honoratus the Bishop of Amiens. The first records date back to the 19th century stating it was first made by a pâtissier named Chiboust (for you foodies out there the traditional filling is a Chiboust cream so this is where the name came from!).
The classic recipe as accepted today is apparently not how it was first made and the only thing in common with the original is the ring of choux pastry. The first Saint-Honorés were made with a circle of brioche dough (docked and weighted down) surrounded by small brioche balls. The brioche base was then spread with a layer of choux paste and baked. Hazelnut-sized cream puffs were dipped in a cooked syrup of glazed fruits, attached to the base, and sprinkled with pink or green tinted sugar. Pieces of glazed fruit were placed between the puffs and the center filled with a pastry cream lightened with whipped cream. According to Favre, Chiboust’s original filling was just whipped cream perfumed with strawberries, violets, roses, raspberries, or vanilla. However, when fresh cream became hard to find in Paris during the summer months, a pastry cream lightened with beaten egg whites was substituted.
Anyway, enough history and on with the baking! Today the Gâteau St. Honoré is made with a spiral of choux dough on top of a puff pastry base, with choux buns around the top and filled with the Chiboust cream. Each pâtissier has there own version so I thought I would follow in suit and make my own.
So here it is my Gâteau St. Honoré with banana crème patisserie and Chantilly cream.
You will need:
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
190g butter, chilled and cubed
1 tsp lemon juice
140ml icy water
Banana crème patisserie
3 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
4 tsp cornflour
1 banana, mashed
Pâte aux Choux (Choux pastry)
150g plain flour, sifted
4 eggs, beaten
500ml whipping cream
60g icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds removed (2 tsp vanilla extract is fine to use instead)
100g caster sugar
How to do it:
1. Start with the rough-puff. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and throw in the cubed butter. Put the lemon juice into the measured water and mix briefly. Add the water mix to the flour mix a little at a time and mix using a round bladed knife. You actually may not need all the water, just enough until it all comes together in a shaggy, loose dough like this:
2. On a floured worktop shape the dough into a rectangle then roll out until about 2cm thick. Fold the top half down then the bottom third up and seal the edges. This is called a ‘turn’. Wrap in clingfilm and place into the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up.
3. You need to do a total of 4 turns, chilling in between each one. As you can see below the butter starts to change from dots into a marbled effect. Once all 4 turns have been made chill whilst preparing the rest of the dish.
4. Crème patisserie next. Place the milk into a pan and heat over a medium-high heat until steaming but not boiling. In a heat-proof bowl add the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour and whisk until pale and thick. Add in the banana and whisk again until evenly combined.
5. Pour 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mix whilst mixing to temper the eggs, then add the rest. Pour back into the pan and cook over the heat until the mixture becomes very thick and starts to bubble but DO NOT STOP MIXING!*
It should almost hold its shape when it’s ready but do not keep it on the heat too long or it will curdle or burn! When it has reached the correct consistency pass through a sieve into a heat-proof bowl. Place some greaseproof paper or clingflim directly onto the crème patisserie (this helps to stop a skin forming) and place into the fridge until completely cold.
*It should be noted that a whisk should always be used when stirring crème patisserie as it helps to get the air into it. Wooden spoons are used for custard and crème anglaise.
6. For the Choux pastry preheat the oven the 200°C/180°C fan and line 2 baking trays with baking paper. place the milk, water, butter, salt and sugar into a pan over a medium-low heat until the butter has melted. Meanwhile sift the flour onto a sheet of greaseproof paper.
7. When the butter is melted tip the flour in in one go and mix vigorously. The dough will be very messy but it will come together-trust me! When it does, place back over the heat whilst stirring to cook the dough for a few minutes until it comes away from the sides of the pan and is smooth and shiny.
At this point put it into a bowl to cool down until just warm.
8. This next step is very important. First of all when adding the eggs the mixture will look as if it’s split but keep mixing and it will come together again.
Most importantly YOU MAY NOT NEED ALL OF THE EGGS, just enough to make it to the right consistency. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add little by little until the mixture just falls from a wooden spoon when lightly shaken. Place into a piping bag.
9. Roll out the puff pastry to about 5mm thick. Trim around you presentation plate. Place onto the prepared baking tray and dock (prick) all over with a fork.
Pipe a spiral of the choux dough on top of the puff pastry.
With the remaining choux pastry pipe small round blobs about 2cm wide and 2cm high. After piping them poke down any peaks or spikes with wet fingers (this is so they don’t catch and burn in the oven).
Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Quickly open and close the oven door after 20 minutes to let the steam out (stand back) and reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/160°C fan and bake for a further 5 minutes or until golden brown and firm.
10. Remove from the oven and poke small holes into the bottom of the choux buns to let the steam out and leave until completely cold.
11. Take the cooled crème patisserie from the fridge and give a quick mix to loosen up. Pipe into the cooled choux buns.
12. Place the sugar into a pan over a high heat until it starts to melt and turn a golden caramel colour. You can help it along by swirling the pan but DO NOT STIR or else the sugar will crystallize. Dip the bottom of choux buns one at a time into the caramel and use it to glue onto the puff pastry base. It will set very quickly.
Use as many choux buns as you need to complete the ring. Any extra can…well they can be eaten of course!
You can also drizzle over extra caramel onto the choux buns.
13. For the Chantilly cream mix all ingredients until just after soft peaks have formed. Place into a piping bag. Starting on the edge of the ring pipe the cream in lines until you reach the center.
You’re done! You can now decorate it as you please. I made some extra caramel so played with a few shapes to place into the cream. I also used some dried banana chips and raspberries to enhance the look of the gâteau.
Hope you give this one a go, I understand there’s a lot of elements to it but the finished product is highly impressive and most of all it tastes fantastic! Play about with the decoration and if you don’t like bananas there is a whole world of other flavours out there to use instead!
Thanks for reading,