Paris-Brest [Daring Bakers]

This month’s challenge was a French pastry. At first I thought “oh, great” – French pastry is incredibly time-consuming, and if you cut corners in any way, everything falls apart. Just like your typical Parisian when you speak broken French to them: very unforgiving. But this is supposed to be a challenge, right?

It turned out to be a lot of fun to make. I’ve never made a choux pastry dessert before, and as it turns out, with the exception of the fact that my pastry shells deflated a bit after taking them out of the oven (I probably should have let them bake a good five minutes longer), they came out great. The mousseline cream, based on a hazelnut and almond praliné, was really delicious. And, dusted with some powdered sugar and accompanied with Vietnamese coffee ice cream, it got the “oohs” and “ahhhs” that made it all worth it.

The November Daring Baker’s challenge took us for a ride! Luisa from Rise of the Sourdough Preacher challenged us to make Paris-Brest, a beautiful pastry celebrating the Paris-Brest bicycle race.

For the recipe, I ended up using Entertaining with Beth’s, but using Luisa’s hazelnut and almond praliné instead of the Nutella that Beth used.

UPDATE: The underbaked, collapsed pastry shells were really bugging me a day later. So since we were going to a friend’s post-Thanksgiving brunch, I decided to redo the recipe, allowing the pastry shells to bake quite a bit longer. I made a few other changes, too, but was overall very pleased with the outcome.

Pics and details after the jump.


Sachertorte [Daring Bakers]

I loved this month’s challenge. Years ago, I used to order sachertortes from the Hotel Sacher in Vienna and send them as gifts. They came in gorgeous wooden boxes, and their thick glaze prevented the chocolatey cake from drying out in transit. I was too intimidated to try to bake one myself, but that’s what Daring Bakers challenges are for, right?

The October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Korena of Korena in the Kitchen. She took us to Austria and introduced us to the wonders of the Sachertorte.

This baby was a lot of work, but it was not impossible. And, most importantly, it was absolutely delicious. The chocolate paired with the apricot was delectable, and dipping each bite in unsweetened schlag made for a terrific pastry experience.

A few imperfections:

  • My cake didn’t have quite the same amount of lift as in Korena’s example. I think I might have underbeat my whites a bit; I was too afraid of overbeating them. But the cake was actually moist and not too dense, so no real complaints.
  • I didn’t strain out the solids in the apricot glaze, although I probably should have for the top, at least. It made for a bumpy-looking texture, and I suspect the chocolate glaze mixed with the apricot glaze a bit as it poured over, since it didn’t soak into the cake enough.

Here’s the recipe if you’re patient enough. Photos after the jump.