Daring Bakers III - The Bakers Bite Back

After the almost crippling Martha Stewart Crepe Cake of last month, that monstrous creation that nearly brought so many of us to our knees, this month's challenge seemed to be a walk in the park.
I mean, it comprised merely of homemade puff pastry, a cooked patisserie cream and choux pastry, not to mention a demonstration of our piping skills and confidence with molten sugar. This could never be as infuriating, as exasperating and as disappointing as Martha's Cake.
However, this month's challenge, chosen by pastry chef extraordinaire, Helene, was always going to be something fantastical: Gateau Saint Honore.
And of course, Gateau Saint Honore is a traditional French cake, made as a somewhat fitting tribute to Saint Honore himself, the Patron Saint of Pastry Bakers. And as I've already mentioned, this gateau really does pull out all the stops. As, I suppose, you would expect the Patron Saint of Pastry Bakings' very own gateau to do. Since Saint Honore was the seventh bishop of French City Amiens during the 6th Century AD, one can only assume that their primitive bakeries were fantastical places to visit, much as they are today. And, although the bishops honorary gateau was supposedly not devised until the mid-18th Century, I wonder how many of the techniques utilised were of his invention? It is thrilling to imagine people eating caramel coated creme puffs during the time of Smallpox (according to Wikipedia, not much else happened in 600AD, other than the Persians beginning to use windmills for irrigation and Chess first being played) and Vandalism.
But I digress. I have never made puff pastry before, having never had a reason too. I have always found bought puff pastry to be oily and too puffy, it splinters into all of those tiny, wafer thin shards that stick to your clothes and your teeth. Most bought puff pastry is not even made with real butter. So, this was my first challenge.
Making Puff Pastry is a simple but somewhat tedious procedure. It is necessary for you to start in the morning due to it's SIX HOUR resting period which is interspersed with rollings and turnings. I, of course, chose to start it at 3pm. Fortunately, there was plenty of TV (although I am still mourning the end of Dawson's Creek and praying for the new series of America's Next Top Model - yes, it's intellectual viewing for me all the way) and Challah to be getting on with.
Slightly alarmed at the rapidity with which some of my fellow bakers had produced their Gateaux, I thought I should probably get a wiggle on and start the pastry, to be followed a few days later by the cream.
Ah yes, Diplomat Cream. An incredibly rich filling for the choux buns, made with flour, eggs (separated and the whites whisked to concrete stiffness), sugar, milk, double cream and vanilla extract. It is as luxurious as you might expect, although mine turned a slightly disconcerting shade of grey whilst languishing in the fridge for a couple of days. The strict notes we were given were "no chocolate, no coffee - this must remain white" - I did try Helene, honestly!
Today was the final assembly of the cake. This entailed making the choux buns, piping them full of the delicious Diplomat Cream and then dipping them in caramel.
Choux Pastry is incredibly easy and I had no qualms about this element at all. And for anyone who thinks that they can't make profiteroles at home or even a ramshackle Croquembouche - you can! It is much easier to work with than normal pastry. None of that tedious kneading and rolling and worrying that it might crack or you might get a soggy bottom (on your pie, saucy!). You just need to be good with the wooden spoon and have enough brain cells to squeeze a piping bag. And Paul and I are living, working proof of this.
One place where I became unstuck (or rather stuck in this case) was dipping my filled choux buns in the molten, hotter than Venus caramel. I got a little cocksure, so to speak, and instead of using the recommended tongs, I used my fingers. I now have a big, puffy, blistery thumb and first finger. And believe me, if you don't want to incur a hot caramel burn, you'll be smart and follow directions. It really does hurt. I surely empathise with those poor victims of the Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. I can only imagine what it must be like inhaling scorching molasses into your lungs.
But enough doom and gloom. Finally, the gateau is assembled. The gateau looks a little tottery, dilapidated and rickety. But it's my tottering, dilapidated, rickety gateau and I am as proud as hell of it.
Oh, the flavour? Imagine ordering the most outrageous dessert on the menu at an upper class restaurant. Now, forget all that. What would you expect this to taste like? It's puff pastry, choux pastry, vanilla patisserie cream and whipped cream and crunchy caramel. Each mouthful is like a thousand tiny bursts of sugar on your tongue, subdued only minutely by the crisp pastries. And each mouthful leaves you wanting more until your stomach begs you no more. A wholly satisfying dessert that has left me feeling proud for making my own puff pastry and diplomat cream.

For the Daring Bakers, the sky is the limit!
Oh, and if you're feeling daring yourself, click here for the recipe in full and a rundown of all the other gals who took part!

62 comments:

Biby Cletus said...

Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

Biby Cletus

sunita said...

You've got every right to be proud of your creation...all your effort shines through...

sher said...

Oh Freya! It's absolutely adorable. I love the way you described crunching into each mouthful---perfect.

Kelly-Jane said...

Well done Freya! Pretty as a picture :) These blisters seem to be battle scars ;)

Claude-Olivier said...

Salut, I really like this kind of "not so easy" recipe ! You are good as baker !!! Great job

Cheers
Claude

Ilva said...

It looks lovely, I love the caramel cage on it, beautiful!

Little Foodie said...

Beautiful. Plus Vanilla Patisserie Cream - I was discussing the merits of this only last week. Yes Please, we'd like big slices! Amanda

katiez said...

Are those candied violets?
It looks absolutely marvelous and much credit to you for being a Daring Baker.
I'm ashamed to admit that your beautiful efforts are reinforcing the benefits of a good Patisserie....

Truffle said...

This looks stunning! Am desperate to have a bite but it looks too beautiful to eat. Bravo!

Bake your cake and eat it too said...

Hi there! This is val from bakeyourcakeandeatittoo, thanks for your comment and I just LOVE your blog and the wonderful pictures. I can't stop looking through your posts!

Ulrike said...

Wow!

Laura said...

Blistered fingers unite! Lets hope the memories of the taste outlive the the pain. Looking gorgeous!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Freya, it is like no other hot isn't it?
Beautiful write up.
The cake is fabulous!
Again it was fun to learn all the new things!

Meeta said...

Looks gorgeous and so wonderfully decorated. I loved reading the post. Congrats on a great cake!

Nazca said...

Love the caramel cage... it looks lovely, even compared to mine ;-)

Anne said...

Such lovely post :)the color of your caramel is simply gorgeous!

Gattina said...

that sugar show-piece is stunning! And the wipped cream was piped so beautifully! Cream and piping bag hate me... But I shouted out a big 'ouch' when read about your burnt finger :( Hope you feel better soon!

T.W. Barritt said...

Fantastic! What a beautiful accomplishment! I suspect the connection to the bishop was that it probably took almost as long as building one of those ancient cathedrals!

veron said...

simply fantastic ,Freya! I did not get my caramel up to par on my side. Like you, I had some tv and dvd watching to do while I made the puff pastry.

Karen said...

What an accomplishment! It's a thing of beauty, and sounds like it was a sensual treat to eat.

gilly said...

Hi Freya - that is the most apt and beautiful description of biting into this cake that I've read! Your gateau is simply gorgeous! I share your pride in completeing such an accomplishment!

Helen said...

Oh Yum! Great job! I would totally order several of these! I love the candied violet on top, beauty!

Jenny said...

I looks great! I'm reading a few posts for inspiration before starting in. That's right, I haven't started yet.

How did you make the spun sugar component? I'm missing that from my directions somehow.

Glenna said...

Great job! Very nicely done

Kirsten said...

Wow! Nice!

This was also SOOOO funny to read. I was dying.

The end result is amazing. You ARE a daring baker because I cannot imagine any dessert taking more than 6 hours. :)

Baking Soda said...

Stunning! Welcome to the blistered fingers club.

Rose said...

Beautiful caramel cage on top. I am now just dripping with your caramel.

Joyce said...

wowsers...you deserve a medal! What an undertaking. Results look marvelous. Hearty congratulations.

Callipygia said...

Bravo, your pastry looks so earnest and self possessed! I see no rickety tottery gateau- glad to know it was as beautiful to taste as to make.

Peabody said...

Beautiful job. Sorry about your finger...a small sacrifice :)

Ivonne said...

Compliments to the chef, indeed! Your gateau is lovely and I especially love the candied violtes.

Loved reading about you making the gateau as well! (Sorry about the ouchie to your finger.)

Margaret said...

Well done - I could just eat a piece of that now!

Elle said...

Freya, not only did you do a beautiful job with the cake, but I love your combination of explanations of the recipe and bits of history. i agree on the taste. The only reason I didn't eat the whole thing at once was that I got it out of the house.

Mary said...

I think we've all redeemed ourselves after the crepe cake. I agree that this dessert is quite outrageous (in the best way). Cream and butter and sugar. Mmmmm.

Marce said...

I´m with you on the burnt finger club! But it looks truly lovely with those violets, Freya, so I think our mishaps were worth it.

Sara said...

You SHOULD be proud! It looks delicious.

christine (myplateoryours) said...

Very impressive. Hope the burn feels better!

breadchick said...

Your cake looks fantastic! And I loved all the "disaster" plugs...perfect to go along with your burnt fingers (ouch!).

Nora B. said...

Freya, what a fatastic effort! And I enjoyed reading your post too - you never fail to make me laugh.

Canadian Baker said...

Freya it looks like a work of art! Bravo!

Amy said...

The caramel centerpiece is beautiful! Great job!

Jann said...

Your efforts were well worth it-this looks so delicious~I'm impressed~

Lis said...

Well you've done it again.. another fabulous post and another gorgeous DB challenge finished! I love the look of your gateau, especially the lil violets on top - so pretty! And your sugar crown! Freya, you are AWESOME!

Way to go, sweetie!!

xoxoxo

Heather said...

Oh wow! Your's looks amazing. I bet it tastes great after all of the burgers you are eating right?
Mine tasted good after our pizza tonight.

Brilynn said...

Love the sugar dome!

Alice Q said...

Very nice - great minds think alike on the sugar cage eh? Your caramel and violets are gorgeous too!

Pille said...

Great cake!

tigerfish said...

The final assembly looks so pretty! I thought the choux before they were baked looked like a pair of eyes looking at me :p

joey said...

It looks lovely and you should be proud! I wish I was as daring :)

You have totally convinced me though that I can make choux pastry :)

Quellia said...

Beautiful! I hope your fingers heal up soon!

Sylvia said...

Very good job ,I like those not easy recipes.You have many reasons to be pride of you. And like Quellia said I hope your fingers heal up .
Have a nice day

kellypea said...

How lovely yours turned out! And I agree about the decadent flavors. I could have stuck my head in the cream bowl to lick it ot!

Cheryl said...

Yours is picture perfect. Your caramel design is to die for, you are so good with that. Well done.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Freya, I knew your cake was gonna be fantastic!

valentina said...

Freya, I love your cake. My puff pastry got so big.I wanted it to be lovely and tame.

Anita said...

Wonderful gateau! I really like the spun sugar in the middle. I sympathize with the blisters - I've burned myself before too!

Lydia said...

Once again the Daring Bakers have gone where I would fear to tread!

Cynthia said...

You Daring Bakers are in a league all your down. I love checking out the various interpretations every month. Your cake looks great.

Chris said...

Way to go Freya! Your Gateau Saint Honore is lovely.

Melting Wok said...

oh my god, freya, you got both the presentation, taste and everything in between, kudos !! I'm speechless !!:)

Culinarily Curious said...

Gorgeous -- especially the candied flowers. And I love the way you put words together to describe the experience and make your creation uniquely "you".

Kristen said...

Lovely lovely job!