Paris-Brest

A Paris-Brest is a traditional French pastry named after an old bicycle race between Paris and the city of Brest in Brittany. The pastry was created in 1910 and its circular shape is meant to represent the wheel of a bicycle. However, it is NOT meant to be used as a spare tire. You’ve be warned. A Paris-Brest is essentially a choux puff ring filled with a mousseline cream flavored with hazelnut praline, the choux in this version are topped with a crunchy crumble with a sprinkle of fleur de sel. It is every bit as clever as it is delicious.

Philippe Conticini of the famed Pâtisserie des Rêves does a beautiful version that was named best Paris-Brest in Paris last year (apparently the jury is still out in Brest) so you can imagine my excitment when i bought his French cookbook “Sensations” and got my little fingers on the prized recipe a few weeks ago. In a perfect world it would be easy to just follow some instructions to re-create this masterpiece at home and claim to your family and friends you’re the genius behind it. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world, the cookbook has some serious mistakes in it, and your family and friends wouldn’t believe you anyway.  The choux puff and the crumble work perfectly but the praline cream recipe is just way off. And i mean waayyy off.

So i put my thinking hat on and did some tweaking and troubleshooting and came up with this version and was quite pleased with it. It may look complicated but it really isn’t. Not in anyway more difficult than a simple choux. I plan to try Conticini’s Paris-Brest next time i’m in Paris to try to crack its secret so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy!

  • Paris-Brest Recipe

    (Inspired by Philippe Conticini: Pâtisserie des Rêves, Paris)
  • Makes 2 cakes. Serves 8 to 10 people.
    • For the choux paste
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 8 tablespoons butter
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 1/4 cup flour
    • 5 large eggs
    • For the crumble:
    • 3 tablespoons butter, soft
    • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
    • For the praline cream:
    • For the buttercream:
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 1 whole egg
    • For the pastry cream:
    • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, split
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 1/3 cup cornstarch
    • 1/3 cup hazelnut praline paste
    • For the praline cream:
    • For the buttercream: place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook to 248′F on a candy thermometer. Meanwhile beat the egg yolks and the whole egg in a Kitchenaid until light in color. Pour the hot syrup over the eggs and keep beating until totally cool. Add the softened butter little by little until fully incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy. Reserve in the refrigerator.
    • For the pastry cream: place the milk and vanilla bean in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in the cornstarch until fully incorporated. Pour 1/3 of the hot milk over the egg mixture while whisking vigorously. Pour the mixture back into the pan with the milk and bring to a boil while stirring constantly until it thickens. Discard the vanilla bean. Cool pastry cream on ice.
    • Combine the hazelnut praline paste with the buttercream and cooled pastry cream in a food processor and mix until you obtain a silky smooth praline cream. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    • For the crumble:
    • Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix with your finger until you obtain a paste. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and roll to 1/16 inch thickness. Refrigerate. Cut out 1 inch rounds using a cookie cutter.
    • For the choux puff pastry:
    • Preheat oven to 350′F. Place the water, milk, butter, salt and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and pour the flour over the milk. Using a wooden spoon, keep stirring the mixture until a “wet” dough forms. Keep stirring over medium-low fire for 5 to 6 minutes to “dry” the dough. Place the mixture in the bowl of a Kitchenaid equipped with the paddle attachment. On medium speed, add eggs one by one, waiting for them to incorporate into the dough before adding the next one. Place the batter into a pastry bag with a round tip, pipe into a crown (see picture). Place a round of crumble dough on top of each mound. Bake for 45 minutes. Let it cool.
    • To assemble: split the choux puff ring in half the long way. Pipe the praline cream with a pastry bag. Cover with the top part. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Refrigerate the Paris-Brest until ready to serve.
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  • Nina

    Scrumptious Zen! How are you my friend!. Did you have some kind of a holiday?

  • http://www.wanderingcollegecook.blogspot.com Chris Chang

    Hi Zen Chef! I just recently found your blog! and I seriously love it! every single time I look on sites like tastespotting, I always seem to click your links :P and i never read the poster’s name…

    This is something I would love to try, I’ve made a couple choux batters before but never tried a Paris-Brest, so hopefully someday I’ll give it a shot! Thanks for all the inspiration!

  • http://colloquialcooking.com Colloquial Cook

    -M’sieur, m’sieur!
    -Voui petit fenouil?
    -J’comprends pas, pourquoi avant la cuisson y a 11 boules, et après plus que 8 à la fin? C’est le monstre du four qui a mangé 3 boules?
    -Ta gueule petit fenouil.

  • Anonymous

    that is so french, finally more french delights from you :-)

  • Kerrin @ MyKugelhopf

    bah dis-donc, ça c’est un paris-brest !! mais parfait quoi, trop beau ! et je suis certaine – trop bon aussi ! =) mais c’est dommage – et incroyable – tous ces livres de cuisine avec des fautes comme ça. bizarre.

    enfin, merci pour le sweet memory: http://mykugelhopf.ch/2010/01/paris-brest/ – miammm.

    hihi, j’aime bien le commentaire du petit fenouil ;)

  • http://twitter.com/kalofagas Kalofagas Greek Food

    Stephane, nice to see you return to a more rustic dish. It’s always nice to return to feel-good comforting food from home.

  • Anonymous

    Ecoute petit fenouil, je vais sortir ma mandoline si tu n’est pas sage! :)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the nice comment, Chris. And welcome!

  • Anonymous

    I had a great holiday. Thanks Nina!

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree, Mr Petah!

  • Anonymous

    Oh, tu as goute au Paris-Brest de me reves! :) Alors, il est bon comme j’imagine?

    Oui, ce petit fenouil il faut le surveiller. hehe :)

  • Bren

    i’m in love. yes.i.am. something so pretty right after my own heart. Here’s to Paris!

  • http://twitter.com/PatisseriesBlog Paris Patisseries

    I saw this on Tastespotting and recognized the form right away as LPdR’s. No chocolate-praline coulant in the middle of the pastry cream in yours though? It’s delicious with or without, I’m sure. Very well done!

  • http://www.cherryspoon.com Martha

    OOOOh it came out beautiful!!!

  • Anonymous

    It’s a chocolate-praline coulant that’s inside? I did put some praline in this one but i need to fine-tune it so it just oozes out.

  • http://twitter.com/sugarbardiva davina

    Lemme confess, I’ve not had a paris-brest before but from its components I think I adore it already. Who can say no to THAT! Ps. this reminds me of Mr. Donut too. :P

  • http://meltingbutter.com/ jenny @ meltingbutter.com

    beautiful! I’m sure the riders would have been happy with this :) I love your blog btw, very nice!

  • http://www.myfavoriteflavours.com Steve

    Zen, don’t listen to Foodgawker. The picture is amazing. Amazing enough for me to immediately clip this recipe and it will go to the top of the “to try” pile. Haven’t had Paris Brest since I was in Paris a couple of years ago. I love working with choux. Thanks for this. It’s just one reason why you enjoy a permanent spot on my blog list.
    Steve
    http://www.myfavoriteflavours.com

  • http://weareneverfull.com Jonny

    I remember watching footage of the Paris-Brest race one year. It was of a leg of the race in which the competitors had to ride over a long cobbled section of road that was slick from heavy rain and which brought many to messy, skin-scraping grief. The choux pastry pieces rather resemble said cobblestones in shape. I’m pleased that you are honest about the errors in the original recipe. I’ve often found this to be the case too, but I’m rather more persuaded in this instance since your technique suggests the fault lies in the recipe rather than in the cook, as with amateur like me. Fine work, as always.

  • http://www.mothersmementos.com Mothers Mementos

    Simply amazing! (Found you from Foodbuzz and just buzzed this). :) – Rachel

  • http://cafeterrablog.com Terra

    This recipe is so fun to learn about, and looks so beautiful! It does sound a little complicated, but fun all at the same time:)
    Take care,
    Terra
    http://www.cafeterrablog.com

  • Briarrose

    This looks amazing! Buttercream and hazelnut…sign me up. ;)

  • http://www.flavorcapture.com Sha

    You have such an amazing blog!

  • http://www.eatlivetravelwrite.com Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    Paris-Brest…. Sigh. Can’t wait to taste the real deal in July. In the meantime, I will ogle your pictures…

  • http://www.amiraskitchen.wordpress.com Amiraskitchen

    Oh how I would love to quit my diet and have this! Looks delish!

  • Ciao Chow Linda

    This is a dessert I’m always drawn to, when I see it in a bakery. Fauchon used to have a branch on Madison Ave. in NYC and I’d eat it there – filled with vanilla cream. But making my own, using a hazelnut filling would be divine.

  • Nipponnin

    Thank you for the lesson of it’s history. Sounds delicious. My friends will be impressed when I make this.

  • Oui, Chef

    I’ve had friends who have ridden the Paris-Brest-Paris randonnee, and lived to tell the tale (though just barely). It runs again this August…whadya say, we should meet there and ride! – S

  • Hardlikearmour

    Next time I have dinner guests I am making this! Thanks for the recipe and inspiration. Your blog is amazing.

  • http://youjustgetme.com/index.php?page=view_profile&id=87713 Robin Nelson

    Outstanding article over again! I am impatient for your next post.