This week my home City, Belfast, is playing host to famous Giro d’Italia bicycle race. Since it’s origin in Italy in 1909 the race has expanded to include other countries, longer routes and allowed riders to particiapte from all parts of the world. Pink is the colour of the winning jersey and Belfasy has literally covered anything and everything in pink. To celebrate this event at Oliver’s we are putting on a special Italian themed menu all week with the Paris-Brest being one of the sweet options. This pastry was created in 1910 to commemorate the Paris-Brest bicyle race which began in 1891. The shape of the pastry represents the wheels of a bike and can range from single servings to large showstopping dessert pieces. At the basic level it is a ring of choux pastry filled with cream, usually flavoured with nuts or fruit. Personally this is maybe my favourite pastry to make as well as eat.
You will need:
Pâte à choux:
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
140g plain flour
Flaked almonds, toasted (optional)
50g caster sugar
100g Hazelnuts, roasted
Hazelnut Chantilly cream:
500ml whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, seeds removed or 1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp icing sugar
Icing sugar to dust
How to do it:
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan. Line several baking trays with baking paper.
- Sift the flour onto a sheet of baking paper. Melt the butter in a pan with the milk, water, salt and sugar. Let it come to the boil briefly then tip in the flour in one go. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon vigorously until the mixture comes together. Return to a medium-low and beat until the dough is smooth, glossy and comes away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat to cool.
- When cold beat in the eggs one at a time until the dough is shiny, paste like and just falls from a wooden spoon when lightly shaken. Pipe into rings on the prepared trays, any tips or trails should be pressed down with a wet finger to ensure even cooking. Sprinkle over the toasted almonds.
- Bake for 20 mins, open the door to let the steam out and continue to cook for a further 5, turning the trays if needed. Cool on a wire rack or in the switched off oven the door ajar.
- For the praline heat the sugar in a pan over a medium-high heat until golden. Immediately tip in the hazelnuts and remove from the heat, stirring to coat. Pour onto a lined tray to harden. When ready blitz a few times in a food processor leaving the praline chunky.
- For the Hazelnut Chantilly cream blitz the hazelnuts until fine and set aside. Semi-whip the cream then mix in the vanilla, sugar and blitzed nuts and continue to whip until holding its shape. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
- To assemble slice the choux rings in half. Layer the praline onto the bottom half of each ring. Pipe the Chantilly cream in a swirl patter all the way round. Place the top half back onto each ring pressing slightly to seal together. Dust over icing sugar right before serving.
Nuts feature a lot in this recipe so obviously if you are allergic omit them! A crunchy layer of some cereal or chocolate chips can replace the praline and the chantilly cream is just as good without the blitzed nuts so play about with the recipe!
Thanks for reading,