So, I’ve actually been setting you up for this week’s bake with my previous two recipes: palmiers (puff pastry) and summer paris-brest (choux pastry). If you already know what a St. Honoré is, then you’ll understand.
A copious amount of custard is encased in a choux pastry ring, covered with whipped cream and finally topped with custard-filled profiteroles encrusted with caramel sugar – all sitting on top of a layer of buttery puff pastry.It’s like biting into a creamy, sweet, cloud. An indulgent cloud, even who prefer a higher whipped cream to cake ratio.
You don’t see the St. Honoré being offered in many places – it’s a traditional French cake cake named for the patron saint of pastry bakers and calls on some of the most demanding skills of pastry chefs.
Demanding is one way to put it. The first attempt I had at making a St.Honoré failed miserably. It was all well and good with my previous choux/profiterole bakes, but for some reason, the pastry just didn’t want to rise this time in a St.Honoré. Turns out I was too eager and added the eggs into the mix before it had cooled down slightly. Well you live and learn!
*Side note: how annoying is it that if you work 9-6, the only time you can get decent natural light is either before work, or just on weekends?! These shots were taken in the colder months, one early morning before work. The result – more moody pics and that annoying blue-ish hue.
Part 1: Puff pastry
125g All purpose flour
Sea salt, pinch
75mL Cold water
125g Butter, room temperature but not softened.
- Place flour in a large bowl; add water and salt. Mix carefully into a smooth dough, being careful not to overmix. Gather dough into a ball, and wrap in plastic. Chill for 30 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle. Break the butter up into small pieces in the centre of the rectangle. Fold over the dough from the left and right side, overlapping in the middle.
- Press the dough with your rolling pin, making it longer, then lightly mark into thirds from the top down. Fold the bottom third up to cover the middle third and the top third down. Seal the dough gently by pressing down on the edges with your rolling pin. Turn the dough 90 degrees clockwise.
- Roll the dough out to a long rectangle, carefully keeping the edges square and sides straight. Fold into thirds from the top down. Seal the dough gently by pressing down on the edges with your rolling pin. Repeat once more, then cover and chill for 15 minutes.
- Repeat step 4 twice more, covering and chilling each time.
- Before use ensure dough is chilled for 1 hour. The dough should be extremely smooth and silky, with no lumps of butter visible.
- Roll out the dough to ⅛ inch thick and cut out with a 9” tin ring. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper and use a fork to poke holes across the surface.
- Set aside in a cool spot – or back in the fridge, we don’t want the butter in the dough to melt.
Part 2: Choux pastry
2g Salt (if using salted butter, omit)
120g All purpose flour
1 Egg for egg wash
- Preheat the oven to 175℃/350℉.
- In a large pot, cook water, butter, salt and sugar over medium heat until it just boils.
- Add in flour, keep stirring until the mixture forms a dough that separates from the pot’s sides and base – it will become quite stiff at this point.
- Remove from heat and add one egg at a time, mixing in between each one to ensure it is well incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
- NOTE: careful that the eggs aren’t added while the pot isn’t over the heat, as the eggs could become scrambled.
- Scoop into a piping bag and using a star nozzle, pipe a round in the middle of the base, the size of a tennis ball. Then pipe along the inside of the ring and so the dough is about 1.5” high. Brush lightly with the egg wash and bake for 40-50 minutes until light brown. Then turn down the oven temperature to 160℃/325℉.
- With the remaining choux pastry, pipe 1 inch balls spaced an inch apart on a baking sheet. You’ll need 10-12 for decoration. Brush with egg wash and bake for 40-45 minutes, until medium brown.
- Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Using a small paring knife, make a small hole in the bottom of each ball and along various points of the choux pastry in the cake. Set aside.
Part 3: Custard
As this needs to be cooled, prepare up to 3 days in advance and store in the fridge.
600mL Full fat milk (3%)
Vanilla essence, to taste
4 Large egg yolks
6 tbsp Sweet potato flour*, or cornstarch
2 tbsp AP flour
½ cup Sugar
2 caps Grand marnier
1 tbsp Unsalted butter – optional
*Your custard will separate less if you use sweet potato flour if you’re planning to keep it for a couple days and use on other cakes
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.
- Sift flour and cornstarch together, whisk it together to the eggs until smooth.
- In a medium pan, heat the cream on medium heat until it’s just about ready to boil – you’ll see small bubbles appear on the side.
- Remove the cream from the heat and add ⅓ into the egg mixture to temper, add the egg mixture back into the pan of cream, and place back on the heat.
- Continue whisking the custard until it boils and thickens to a ketchup consistency. If adding butter, include at this stage. Mix until fully melted and incorporated.
- Remove from heat and place into a bowl, covering the top with saran wrap so that it touches the custard, preventing any “skin” from forming. Set aside to cool.
- When about to use, mix 2 caps of grand marnier in.
Part 4: Assembly
850mL Whipping cream (or combination of double cream and whipping cream)
½ cup Sugar
Water to boil – approx. 1/4 up will do
- Using a sharp knife, run along the edge of the ring to remove the cake and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the whipping cream until soft peaks using an electric hand mixer.
- Mix 2 spatula-full dollops of the whipped cream into the custard. Store the remaining cream in the fridge until use later.
- Fill a piping bag with the custard mixture, and using a star-shaped nozzle, pipe each profiterole until just full. Place in fridge to chill.
- Pipe the custard into the choux pastry portion of the cake, along the edge and in the middle.
- Scoop remaining custard into the middle of the cake, until the middle choux pastry is covered evenly.
- Fill a piping bag with the whipped cream and using a star-shaped nozzle, pipe rosettes along the surface of the cake.
- Place the cake in the fridge to chill while you make the caramel sugar decoration.
- Prepare a sheet of aluminum foil on a plate and set aside.
- In a small pot (make sure it’s completely clean or the sugar won’t cook properly!) over low-medium heat, bring the sugar and water to boil, until it reaches a light golden colour – remove immediately from heat. You will need to work quickly here as the sugar will continue to cook and harden.
- Dip the top of each profiterole in the caramel sugar, and place face down on the aluminum covered plate – this will help create a shiny sugar “hat” for the profiteroles once hardened.
- Slowly peel profiteroles away from the foil and assemble around the top of the cake.
- NOTE: caramel sugar will melt in the fridge after a couple days from the condensation – so if you’re planning to keep this a couple of days, it’s best to use chocolate instead.