Monday, January 3, 2011

Gateau Saint-Honore

This classic French Cake is named after Saint Honorius, the Bishop of Amiens in the sixth century, and the French Patron Saint of Pastry Cooks.

Gateau Saint-Honore is one of those classic deserts that when you eat it you say to yourself, "Now that's perfection".  There are a few things that I make that really make me feel like I have made something special, a beautiful pie, an airy, chewy, loaf of bread and now this.

You use a lot of the basic skills that every pastry chef must master.  The three "P's"...Puff Pastry, Pate a Choux, and Pastry cream.  And this is a cake that must be eaten the day it is made or the puff pastry and the pate a choux will get soggy.

Don't be put off by the amount of steps.  It really is worth it.  And talk about a crowd pleaser! 

So here we go...

(this makes two, but you can half the recipe, or you can make two and give one to a friend)

Pastry Cream:
(I would make this a day in advance, because it must be completely chilled and set before making the Bavarian Cream.)

1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped or 1/4 teaspoon good vanilla extract
2 egg yolks
1/8 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, half of the sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining sugar, until pale.  Whisking constantly slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, continue to add a little at a time until it has been incorporated.  Pour mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over medium high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens and registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 2 minutes,  Remove from heat, discard the vanilla bean if used.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the butter.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Puff pastry:

I made my own, but you can use store bought.  Roll two 12inch rounds out of the puff pastry about 1/8 inch thick.  Place on a sheet pan on parchment cover and put in the refrigerator to chill and rest.  

While the puff is resting, make your Pate a choux.


1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 large eggs 

In a medium sauce pan place the butter, water, salt and sugar. bring to a boil over medium high heat, and immediately remove from the heat.  Using a wooden spoon and quickly stir in the flour until combined.  Return the pan to the heat and cook. stirring constantly, until the mixture pulls away from the sides and a film forms on the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes.

Transfer mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed until slightly cooled, about 1 minute.  Increase the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated before adding the next. Test the batter by touching it with your finger and lifting to form a soft peak.  If a soft peak does not form, the batter needs more egg.  If you have added all the eggs add a fifth egg.  Place in a pastry bag with a medium sized plain tip.

Pull the puff pastry rounds out of the fridge. Pipe four concentric rings of Pate a Choux on the circles. Do not pipe them too thick, you will be surprised how much the Pate a choux will puff.  Pipe 16 Pate a Choux profiterole the size of  Bing cherries onto a parchment lined sheet pan.
Bake the Puff Pastry circles and the profiteroles at 400 degrees until the Pate a Choux has puffed, about 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake until everything is dry enough to hold it shape.  about 35 minutes longer for the cake and about 10 minutes for the profiteroles.

Bavarian Rum Cream:

4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
1/3 cup light rum
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
The pastry cream from above
Italian Meringue (below)

Italian Meringue

1 cup egg whites
6 oz granulated sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl so you will be ready to start whipping them when the sugar syrup is ready.

Boil the sugar, corn syrup and water.  When the syrup reaches 230 degrees, start whipping the egg whites on high speed. Continue boiling the syrup until it reaches 240 degrees. Soft ball stage.  

Remove the syrup from the heat and lower the mixer speed to medium.  Pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin, steady stream between the whip and the side of the bowl.  Turn the mixer back to high speed and continue to whip the meringue until it has cooled completely and has formed stiff peaks.

Sprinkle the gelatin powder over the rum.  Set aside to soften.  Whip the heavy cream and the vanilla to stiff peaks. Fold the hipped cream into the Pastry Cream. 

Next fold in the Italian Meringue.

Try to keep as much air in the mixture as possible. 

Place the softened gelatin mixture over a bain-marie and heat to dissolve.  Do not overheat.  Place one-third of the cream mixture in a separate bowl and rapidly stir in the dissolved gelatin.  Still working quickly, mix this into the reamaining cream mixture.

Now place some of the Bavarian rum cream into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip.  Use the pastry bag tip or the tip of a paring knife to make a small hole in the bottom of each profiterole.  Pipe the cream into the profiteroles to fill them.  Refrigerate the filled profiteroles.

Divide the remaining filling evenly between the two cake spreading it into a dome shape.  Refrigerate the cakes for at least 2 hours to set the cream.

Caramelize one cup of sugar in a heavy bottom sauce pan.  This just means to heat it until it is a nice amber color.  Adding a couple drops of lemon juice to the sugar before heating it helps to keep it from crystallizing. 

Dip the filled profiteroles into the hot caramel, using two forks to avoid burning your fingers.  Place them on a  sheet pan.  The caramel must be hot enough to go on in a thin layer.  Reheat if necessary as you are dipping, stirring constantly to avoid darkening the caramel any more than necessary.  Also avoid getting any of the Bavarian Cream mixed in with the caramel while dipping as the cream can cause the sugare to recrystallize.

OK, lets put this thing together!  

Whip 1 cup heavy cream and 1/4 cup powder sugar to stiff peaks.  Place the whipped cram in a pastry bag with a lager star tip.  Place the cooled profiteroles evenly spaced around the top edge of the cake.  Pipe the whip cream in between the profiteroles.  It looks best if the are about the same size. Using a peeler, shave chocolate over the center of the cakes.

Now all that is left is to wow your guest!



  1. So many steps, but so worth it for such a beautiful dessert. The Bavarian Rum Cream sounds so good! :)