Gateau Saint-Honore with Francois
Gateau Saint-Honore is a classic French cake named for the patron saint of pastry bakers; this dessert comprises several challenging recipes.
For the Pate Feuilletee (Puff Pastry)
- 1 pound all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into very small pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
For the Pate a Choux (Cream Puffs)
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 7 large eggs
For the Creme Patissiere (Pastry Cream)
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For the Caramel
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons corn syrup
For the Creme Chantilly (Whipped Cream)
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Weigh the flour accurately. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add 1/2 cup flour; mix until smooth. Scrape this butter mixture onto a piece of waxed paper. Form into a 5-inch square, wrap; transfer to the refrigerator until chilled.
Place remaining flour in mixer bowl; add 1 cup water and salt. Mix carefully into a smooth dough, being careful not to overmix. Gather dough into a ball, and wrap in plastic. Chill a few minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 6-by-12-inch rectangle. Place the chilled butter square in the center of the rectangle. Fold over the dough, completely encasing the butter. Press the edges of the dough together, sealing as well as possible. Transfer to a sheet of waxed paper; chill until dough and butter reach same temperature.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 3/8-inch-thick rectangle. Fold into thirds, like a letter, and roll into another 3/8-inch-thick rectangle. Transfer dough to waxed paper, and chill 1 hour. (Try to use as little flour as possible for the rolling, and brush off any excess before folding dough.)
Repeat rolling-and-folding process two more times; chill 1 hour. Roll and fold two more times. When you fold the dough for the sixth time, the dough should be extremely smooth and silky, with no lumps of butter visible. (If the dough becomes too elastic, set aside in a cool place 15 to 20 minutes before rolling.)
Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate one half for the Gateau Saint-Honore, and freeze the other half for later use.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Combine the butter and 1 cup water in a small saucepan, and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, and immediately add the flour and salt. Beat continuously with a wooden spoon until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, add the eggs, one at a time. Reserve 1 1/2 cups dough for assembling the cake.
Place remaining mixture in a pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #9824 tip. Pipe 1-inch balls, spaced 1 1/2 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake balls until dark-golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Set 18 balls aside; freeze remaining balls in an airtight container for another use.
Using a small paring knife, make a small hole in the bottom of each ball. Set aside.
Combine the milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. Set pan over medium heat, and scald the milk mixture. Remove the pan from heat, cover, and let mixture steep 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and discard the vanilla bean.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour, and continue whisking egg mixture until smooth.
Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. Whisk this new mixture until it is completely smooth and completely free of lumps.
Return new mixture to pan, and place over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly; cook 2 minutes more.
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl. Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Place half of the pastry cream in a pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #6 round tip; reserve the remaining pastry cream for assembling the cake. Pipe pastry cream into each of the 18 reserved balls. Set the filled cream puffs aside until you are ready to dip them in the caramel.
Prepare an ice-water bath, and line a baking pan with parchment; set both aside.
Combine the sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Set over high heat, and bring to a boil. Swirl the pan occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking until the syrup is golden-amber. Remove pan from heat, and plunge bottom of pan in the ice bath to stop cooking.
Dip the top of each of the 18 filled cream puffs in the molten caramel. Place the balls, top-sides down, on the prepared baking sheet; the caramel will harden and flatten, and this surface will become the top of the cake.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a clean work surface. Using a small offset spatula, place a small amount of molten caramel on the parchment. Starting from the center, draw out the caramel in a few quick strokes, creating a fan. Repeat making more fans with the remaining caramel.
Set fans aside to harden and dry. Remove from the parchment, and use for garnish.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla. Beat on high speed until the mixture forms stiff peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. Chill until ready to use.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside.
Roll the dough out to an 1/8-inch thickness. Using a plate or a bowl as a guide, cut out two 8-inch circles from the dough. Prick the circles all over with a fork or a pastry docker to prevent the dough from rising. Place the circles on the prepared baking sheets. Brush the outer edge of the circles with the beaten egg.
Place the reserved pate a choux dough in a pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #9824 tip. Pipe dough around the rim of each circle. With remaining dough, pipe a spiral in the center of each circle, starting in the middle.
Bake until the pastry is crisp and deep-golden brown, 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to a rack to cool.
Dip uncoated sides of cream puffs, one by one, in the caramel. Arrange 9 per circle, leaving space in between; the caramel will hold the cream puffs to the pastry.
Combine the remaining pastry cream and one-fourth of the creme chantilly in a bowl. Place the mixed cream in a pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #9824 tip. Fill the center of each circle with cream mixture.
Place the remaining creme chantilly in a pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #9824 tip. Pipe large rosettes between the caramel-covered cream puffs. Cover the center of each circle with the remaining cream. Garnish with caramel fans, and serve.