Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pour Some (boiling hot) Sugar On Me...Gateau Saint Honore.

I had barely begun to recover from my first Daring Baker Challenge when it was time to start thinking about the next one. This month the Gateau Saint Honore - like this - was chosen. Gah!

Big shock - I wasn't going to take part. But again I was talked into it, not by Scott this time who I think is getting tired of me being so excited to be part of The Daring Bakers and then whining about the challenges, but by Lis and Mary.

The Gateau Saint Honore has three parts - a puff pastry bottom, a pastry cream, and cream puffs. Ideally we would bake all 3 components from scratch, plus caramelize sugar to cover the cream puffs and decorate the finished cake. Did I already say Gah?

Some of the Daring Bakers have already made puff pastry from scratch when the group made croissants, and of course some of the bloggers are just super fantastic cooks who make stuff like this by hand all the time! I am not one of those people, so I decided to use store bought puff pastry and make the pastry cream and cream puffs myself.

Day One (Saturday May 19) - I go to do my grocery shopping for the gateau. I do not have a pastry bag or any piping tips. I had decided to wing it with a baggie but now I am getting nervous. I don't want to ruin the dessert so I go to Michaels. I come thisclose to buying a $75.00 cake decorating set before coming to my senses. I buy this for $8.00 -


I go home, take the puff pastry out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. I pour myself a drink and hope the next morning goes smoothly.

Day Two (Sunday May 20) - I get to work. I roll out my puff pastry and put it back in the fridge to chill. I start the pate a choux dough. It comes together very easily and while I am adding the eggs it hits me - I am actually making CREAM PUFFS from SCRATCH. Never in my life would I have thought I would do something like this. Wow.

A problem rears its ugly head! After cutting my puff pastry into a circle I attempt to pipe 4 circles of choux onto the dough and to form my cream puffs on the pan. Perhaps the decorating tips I bought are not numbered the same as ones from the US but my circles are too thin and my cream puffs are small. I am having a hard time controlling the pastry bag and there is choux everywhere. Is 8:45 am on a Sunday too early to have a drink? I throw the pan in the oven and go wash my arms off. And change my shirt. And wipe down the floor. When the pan comes back out of the oven 20 minutes later everything looks good. Well, the cream puffs look good but are very very small. My puff pastry base has hardly puffed at all and is very dark, I've come close to burning it. I abandon the piping bag and make some new cream puffs with two spoons. They come out great.

Next I start the Saint Honore (aka Diplomat) Cream. Having received some advice that morning from Mary this goes smoothly. And then I get to fill the cream puffs!


So much fun. And yummy too - I can't wait to make these again. And eclairs, and cheese puffs too. Screw the diet, bring on the choux!

Now is the scary scary part - caramelizing the sugar and dipping the cream puffs in. I got my sugar caramelized ok but the trouble is dipping the puffs in the sugar! Neither forks or skewers work for me so I end up using my fingers. Did you know that melted sugar is really hot and burns you when you dunk your fingers in it? I'm here to tell you it does.


Everything has gone pretty smoothly and I decide that I am a Superstar. So I get cocky and decide to make some sugar threads to place on the cake like a crown. Because I am just that good. But I am not that good. I spray my shirt, arms and kitchen floor with burning hot sugar. Dammit. And ow.

Time for the assembly. The puff pastry base goes on the plate. It gets covered with the Saint Honore Cream. The cream puffs are placed on top and then it is time to get creative with whipped cream.









As you can see from the last picture, I was not exaggerating when I said my puff pastry didn't puff very much. I am sure that is because it is store bought. But it still tasted good which is the most important thing. So in just under 4 hours which included lots of emails and instant messaging the gateau was done! I covered it and chilled it and that night when we came home from dinner (it was our anniversary) we had a piece.

It was really nice and the cream puffs were my favorite part for sure. I wasn't crazy about the sugar, but that's probably because I was blistered and suffering. The downside to the cake was that it didn't all get eaten before it started to get soggy. I made the cake that Sunday because Lis and Mary were, and normally that would have been OK and I could have taken the rest of it to work on Monday. But May 21 was Victoria Day and I didn't work. Tuesday morning the cake was getting soft and I didn't want to feed to anyone.

Wow, another amazing challenge down! I can't believe all the new things I have learned in the last two months. I can't wait to see what's next.

Feeling crazy and want to make your own Gateau Saint Honore? Here's the recipe.

All the Daring Bakers are posting about their Gateau Saint Honore's today, Sunday May 27. Please go and drop by their sites.


32 comments:

Meeta said...

Sara, I am so glad you did take part. Even if the puff pastry did not rise - I find it look great. Great job!

Anne said...

Hi sara! I also used store bought puff pastry and like you it didn't puff out. Nevertheless your gateau still looks lovely and delicious!

Freya and Paul said...

Sugar burns really suck!! I have a burnt thumb and finger from deciding not to use the tongs!! Silly me!
And my puff pastry didn't rise much either AND I made my own. It must be our ovens, right?
Anyway, your final dish looks lovely and I hope you had a great anniversary!

Baking Soda said...

Congrats on a well done job! great write-up and no, my puff didn't puff as much..guess I should have made my own....

gilly said...

Hi Sara - I'm so glad you decided to participate! I love how you did your cake, it's so beautifully decorated! Way to go!

...and happy (belated) anniversary!

Helen said...

Hey Sara, I am so glad your decided to take part. Remember, you don't learn how to bicyle without falling...same with baking. That's the whole reason behind the DB. Great job, coming over with my spoon!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Once Upon I Time when I first started to cook, my motto was
"If you can read, you can cook." I'm relearning that now. I also realize, sometimes I can't read!
Your cake is beautiful! And it is fun learning the new stuff. I still have the puff pastry to learn!

Lis said...

AWESOME Sara! Your post had me laughing and re-living last Sunday, making mine with you and Mary. That was fun!

I think your gateaux looks stunning! I love the whipped cream "stars" and I totally agree that learning to make cream puffs is THE BOMB!

Also, and I don't know if I told you this on Sunday or not.. I took some scraps of my puff pastry and made thin ribbon-like shapes..well they didn't puff as much as the big round PP I cut - but I actually prefered the flatter PP with the cream.. so I'd be all over your gateaux in a heart beat!

Well done, sweetie! I look forward to next month and hope we can make our challenges on the same day again! =)

xoxo

Kelly-Jane said...

Great post and lovely gateau :) So pretty.

Ilva said...

It looks really good, Sara!

Glenna said...

It's lovely. You did a great job. Sorry about the burned fingers though. Ouch. Loved your post title too. Now I have that song in my head...

Ivonne said...

Sara,

I'm so glad that you were convinced to take part! I just love your gateau and burnt fingers are the mark of a Daring Baker!!!

:o)

Peabody said...

That is so weird that it didn't rise hardly at all.
Way to stay with and be a trooper...turned out great anyway!

Laura said...

My fingers feel your pain. I fancied myself as quite the sugar artist too! It turned out lovely and I bet if you had made your own pastry it would have turned out better than any store bought stuff!

Mary said...

Mine didn't puff that much either. I hope the gateau was a delicious treat for your anniversary. And I think you are a superstar!

veron said...

Your cake looks beautiful...burned fingers and all ;). I can't believe you used your fingers. Tongs work pretty for dipping the puffs in the caramel sugar.

breadchick said...

Sara, Grrlfriend! Between you and Lis, I don't know which of you is going to kill me with laughter first. You just crack me up. First, your mad comments on IM while we were both slaving over the caramel and now you have me humming that "song" (thanks to your post title). I know your pastry didn't puff but your Diplomat cream more than made up for it! Yup, those cream puffs were hard to resist. Thanks for the support during this one!

Canadian Baker said...

I'm glad you took part. You did a really nice job!

Gattina said...

You're so clever to use two spoons to form the cream puffs... hope your fingers are feeling better now. This cake is really beautiful!

Elle said...

You are truly a Daring Baker. As with some other DBs, myself included, you have the sugar blisters to prove it :)
Your cake is beautiful and elegant. Hope your anniversary was wonderful. It's cool that now we all know how easy cream puff paste is. I see eclairs in our futures.
Beautiful photos, too.

Brilynn said...

Since your puff pastry didn't rise you have to do it all over again... just kidding. The best part of the cake was the cream filling so that was the only part that really mattered, (sshhh, don't tell anyone I said that).

Alice Q said...

Even if you didn't like it, it looks like your caramel turned out well. The cream puffs were my favorite part too!

Claire said...

Looks like it came out pretty well to me!

Nazca said...

Drinking while baking is a baaaad idea. You chose well when deciding not to :-) I know the puff didn't rise (mine was store bought but rose...) but it still looks yummy. In fact I can pay it the highest compliment I know. It looks like a sweet pizza! :-D

Quellia said...

It looks great! I'm so glad you decided to join us, even though you were nervous about it! Good work DB!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Sara, my puff pastry didn't puff much, either. But I can say that your gateau is lovely anyway!

valentina said...

Sara, your cake looks great. I didn't check that I had all the piping bag nozzles handy and when it came to it I could only find two.

Mike said...

I seem to remember an Alton Brown episode in which he did puff pastry. He said the cut on the pastry needed to be perfect. If the “cut” was really more than a “press together to the bottom”, the pastry won’t puff. I love you, so you know this isn’t mean or an accusation, but was your cut based on a bowl pressed down on the pastry and a cut around the bowl?

Cheryl said...

What big beautiful gateau. I think your pipping of your cream was well done. And your cream puffs came out so much bigger and nicer than mine.

Culinarily Curious said...

I'm glad you opted in on this one. Your story puts the whole process in a unique perspective -- and gave me the giggle fit I've needed all day!

Anonymous said...

I made plain bagels the first couple of years I got married. It was a lot of work but still a lot of fun. Kudos to you.

Ani
foodiechickie.com

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