A show stopping choux pastry gateau named after the patron saint of pastry chefs, Gateau St.Honore. It is filled with a light Crème Chiboust and topped with cream and caramel.
There is no getting away from it, making a Gâteau St.Honoré is not for the faint hearted. It's not so much that it is very difficult to make, more that there are a lot of elements so it can feel like a bit of a baking marathon.
But one that is worth partaking in if you have the time, as you will be rewarded with a gateau fit for a.... well....... a patron saint of pastry chefs!
I have to confess that it is some years since I last made one. I remember making one while studying Home Economics at Uni and then again while working on a weekly woman's magazine. I think I have even made a couple as an editorial food stylist for cook books.
So when on the Great British Bake Off, Gâteau St.Honorè was one of the technical challenges I was reminded how good this confection is and knew immediately that this was a recipe to visit again.
I found the recipe for the one I made while I worked on Woman's Realm magazine almost 30 years ago and this recipe is an update version of that. It consists of a sweet shortcrust pastry base with a double ring of choux pastry balls and is filled with Crème Chiboust, topped with Chantilly (sweetened) cream before being decorated with spun caramel.
The gâteau St.Honorè base
Some recipes have this gateau made with a puff pastry base. You could easily change the base with a disc of puff pastry if you preferred but I have always used a shortcrust pastry base as I like the contrast of the crisp pastry base that you get with the shortcrust combined with the softer more chewy choux pastry balls. This gâteau is very much about different textures.
I roll out the pastry into a circle about 20cm (8in) in diameter and then pinch the edges to neaten. Alternatively, you could use the base of a cake tin to cut out a neat circle from the pastry.
The Choux Pastry
Pop the base into the refrigerator while you prepare the choux pastry. Bring the butter and water to the boil then shoot in all the flour in one go and beat well. The dough will form into a ball around the spoon. Spread it out a little in the pan and allow to cool for a few minutes before beating in the egg.
If you add the eggs too soon you run the risk of the hot pastry cooking the eggs.
You can use an electric whisk to beat in the eggs but it's really not necessary and just creates extra washing up. If you add the egg a little at a time it is not hard to beat in with a wooden spoon and trust me with this recipe there is going to be plenty of washing up so why make more than necessary!
Once the choux pastry is made, spoon into a piping bag fitted with a star or plain nozzle and pipe small balls of choux pastry in a circle on top of the pastry base. Then pipe the remaining choux pastry in small balls on another baking sheet. Bake and allow to cool. You may need to swop the baking sheets around or cook the pastry on the lower shelf slightly longer than those on the top.
The Crème Chiboust
In my original recipe, I used a plain Crème Pâtissière, but this time I wanted to use Crème Chiboust which is the traditional filling for a Gâteau St.Honoré and named after the 19th-century pastry Chef M Chiboust who originally created both the gâteau and the Crème. His Parisian bakery was situated on the Rue Saint-Honoré.
Crème Chiboust is lightened with whisked egg whites and has a mousse like texture which I find delicious.
The Chantilly Cream
Chantilly cream is the name for a cream that has been sweetened with sugar. This is piped on top of the Crème Chiboust. Done traditionally with a special St. Honoré piping tip, but I just used a star nozzle which most people who bake will have.
While researching this post I found some recipes with the addition of fruit between the Crème Chiboust which I was really tempted to try. However, I decided to keep this recipe more authentic. But in summer when in season I think a layer of fresh berries would be a rather delicious addition.
The final element of the Gâteau St.Honoré is the caramel. Many recipes dip the choux buns into the caramel to give a thick layer of caramel. While delicious it can be a bit hard on your teeth. I prefer to hold the 2nd ring of choux pastry in place with a little cream and then drizzle the caramel in thin strands over the choux buns which is more delicate and I think prettier.
When making a caramel I recommend using cane sugar. It has less impurities than sugar made from sugar beet which can cause the caramel to crystallise.
Make sure you do not bring the sugar syrup to the boil before all the sugar crystals have dissolved. You can gently stir the syrup while the sugar is dissolving but try not to splash up the side as this can leave sugar crystals on the side of the pan which again may cause the syrup to crystallise once you start to boil the syrup. You can wash down any stray crystals by brushing the side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water.
Once the sugar has dissolved, stop stirring and increase the heat to boil the syrup. As it begins to colour and caramelise gently swirl the pan a few times. Once it is golden brown you can stop it cooking any further by dipping the base of the pan into cold water.
Now you will need to work quickly (but carefully as the syrup is very hot indeed) to drizzle the caramel over the choux pastry. You can drizzle a few thin strands of caramel back and forth over the cream too but make sure they are not too thick or the caramel will melt the cream.
Now, finally your epic cake making is complete and all that is left is to serve and enjoy.
Gâteau St.Honorè Step by Step
Gâteau St. Honore
- 75g g plain flour (3oz) sieved
- 40 g butter (1½oz) cut into cubes
- 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 75 g butter (3oz) cut into cubes
- 175 ml water (6floz)
- 90 g plain flour (3½oz)
- 3 medium eggs lightly beaten
- 1 batch crème chiboust
- 300 ml double cream (½pt)
- 2 tbsp icing sugar (optional)
- 125 g granulated cane sugar (4oz)
- 4 tbsp water
- piping bags
- Large plain piping nozzle
- large star piping nozzle
- baking sheets
To make the base
- Place the 75g (3oz) plain flour in a mixing bowl with 40g (1½oz) butter cut into cubes. Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Stir in 1 tbsp caster sugar. Add 1 egg yolk and mix to a dough adding a little water if necessary. Shape the dough into a ball.
- Roll out the dough to form a 20cm (8in) circle and place on a greased baking sheet. Pinch the edges to flute and chill while you make the choux pastry.
To make the choux pastry
- Preheat the oven to 200℃ (180℃ fan)/400°F/gas mark 6. Place 75g(3oz) butter in a saucepan with 175ml (6floz) water and heat gently until the butter melts.
- Increase the heat and bring to a rolling bowl. Remove from the heat and quickly add 90g (3½oz) plain flour all in one go and beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a ball around the spoon and leaves the sides of the pan.
- Allow to cool slightly then gradually beat in 3 lightly beaten eggs a little at a time until you have a smooth glossy paste.
- Place the choux pastry in a large piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe balls of choux pastry around the edge of the pastry base.
- Use the remaining choux pastry to pipe similar sized balls on a second baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The tray on the lower shelf may take a little longer to cook than the one on top.
- Once cooked allow to cool completely. Meanwhile make the crème Chiboust.
- Whip 300ml (½pt) double cream with 2 tbsp icing sugar if desired until standing in soft peaks. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe a little cream on the top of the choux ring circle. and place a second ring of choux balls on top.
- Spoon the creme Chiboust into the centre of the gâteau and pipe the remaining cream on top.
- Place 125g (4oz) granulated sugar in a small saucepan with 4 tbsp water. Heat gently stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once all the sugar has dissolved stop stirring and increase the heat. Cook until the carmel turns golden brown.
- working quickly drizzle the caramel over the chouz pastry. Transfer to a serving dish and serve