Today is an extra special Guest Post. My lovely Irish guest, Hester Casey, is not only sharing a cracker of an egg yolk recipe with us, but it’s also the first anniversary of her blog, Alchemy in the Kitchen. Congratulations on your first blogversary, Hester!
When Hester revealed she was making Paris-Brest, I immediately took a trip down memory lane with my girls this week to Maisons-Laffitte. We lived there for 5 years just around the corner from THE Pâtisserie that created the Paris-Brest back in 1910.
This happy Monsieur, Louis Durand, was obviously over the moon! What a clever idea, creating a pastry in the shape of a wheel especially for the famous bicycle race.
The girl serving in the shop saw us taking pictures outside. When I explained that I could mention it on le Blog and link up to them, she stared at me blankly with,”Oh, I don’t know if you can do that”. Well, voilà: check out the official Paris-Brest website at www.paris-brest.fr.
We bought a few mini Paris-Brests but would you believe, none of the minis were in the shape of a bicycle wheel! They were more like a shell. I’ll post the pic up on Facebook, if you’re interested.
These people need to market themselves, for goodness sake. Even the pastry box uses an email address rather than the website address.
They NEED YOU, Hester! Here she is now to show us her white chocolate and raspberry Paris-Brest.
I’m Hester of Alchemy in the Kitchen. I’m one of seven siblings, and postcard Irish with auburn hair and a sprinkling of freckles. My home is Wicklow, “the garden of Ireland”, with my husband Chris, chief taster-in-residence.
Growing up in a large family meant our house was like a restaurant, with starter, soup, main and dessert each evening. It was noisy, with everyone conducting at least three conversations simultaneously. Even though it was crowded, room could always be found for whoever happened along at mealtimes. How could I help but love food and the conviviality it brings! To this day, I find it hard to prepare meals for fewer than 10 people.
When Jill invited me to guest post on Le Blog, I was thrilled. I’m a huge fan of Mad About Macarons and it is a real honour and pleasure to accept her invitation. Jill conveys her passion for great food and for Paris in equal measure, with a large helping of humour. I know when I read each of her posts they will have me drooling, or laughing, or both – that gets messy. 🙂
The egg yolk challenge is a great idea because who hasn’t – at some stage – got a bowl of forlorn egg yolks sitting in the fridge. Having been parted from their whites – who have gone on to star as Magnificent Macarons, Marvellous Meringues, or Superb Soufflés – the poor old egg yolk tends to be forgotten.
Egg yolks can achieve greatness too. After all, Botticelli painted The Birth of Venus using egg yolk-based paint. Botticelli provided a feast for the eyes – here is something you can get your teeth into. Gateau Paris-Brest is a delectable choux pastry, named after the famous Paris – Brest bicycle race. The shape represents a wheel. Here it is in miniature, my Summery version with raspberries and white chocolate pastry cream.
White Chocolate and Raspberry Paris-Brest
For 10 – 12 gorgeous little pastries you will need…
Pastry Cream (crème pâtissière)
300mls fresh milk
50g caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
15g plain flour
4 egg yolks
50g good quality white chocolate, chopped
- Heat the milk in a medium saucepan until simmering.
- Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the vanilla extract and sugar until thick and paler in colour. Add in the salt, plain flour and cornflour and whisk until incorporated.
- Slowly add the simmering milk to the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time (never add cold eggs to hot liquid unless you want scrambled eggs). Mix well and return the liquid to the saucepan. Continue to whisk over a low heat until the liquid has become a thick custard. This will take about 3 or 4 minutes. Make sure not to boil the custard or it will become grainy and may scramble. The custard is thick enough when it coats the back of a wooden spoon and a finger pulled though this coating leaves a clean trail.
- Add in the white chocolate and stir until it has melted into the custard.
- Transfer to a bowl and cover with clingfilm, making sure the clingfilm makes contact with the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until ready to use. This can be prepared ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
70g strong white flour/plain flour
A pinch of fine salt
2 eggs beaten
- Heat the water and butter together in a medium saucepan until the butter has melted and the liquid is simmering
- Carefully tip the flour and salt into the liquid in one go. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together in a soft ball of paste and no dry flour remains. Spread the ball of paste over the bottom of the saucepan and leave to cool to room temperature.
- When the paste has cooled, add in the beaten egg a little at a time, whisking well between additions. An electric whisk is best for this job. You want a smooth glossy soft paste that will hold its shape so check the mixture as you go along as you may not need to add all the egg.
- Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe circles of the mixture (approximately 8cm/3 inches in diameter) onto a lightly buttered baking tray, leaving 5cm/2 inches between circles. Scatter the tops of the circles with almond flakes and transfer to the oven. Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until evenly golden brown. Remove from the oven and poke 2 horizontal slits in the side of each pastry to release some steam. Return to the oven for a further 2 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.
- Assemble the little pastries just before serving: slice them in half horizontally. Beat the cooled pastry cream until smooth. For a really decadent touch, I sometimes stir a tablespoon of mandarin brandy into the pastry cream at this stage. Pipe onto the lower half of the pastry wheel and add fresh raspberries. Replace the top and dust with icing sugar.
These little pastries are perfect accompaniment to a daydream where you might cycle from Paris to Brest, or perhaps paint a Renaissance masterpiece – using egg-yolk-based paint of course!
Don’t forget to cycle over to Hester’s blog, Alchemy in the Kitchen. She is certainly creating plenty magic: have you seen her latest simple ingredient tricks? She transformed a normal tzatziki into an apple and lime tzatziki with lamb kofte. Would you believe she also coaxed some Bramley Apples to talk to some vanilla fudge and pastry? Agracadabra: it became a Walnut Fragipane Tart with Apple and Fudge! Enjoy her blog, and please say congratulations from me! Happy Blogversary, Hester!