Filled cream puffs march around the rim of Gâteau Saint-Honoré like the points of a golden crown surrounding a velvety center of pastry cream and whipped cream. This is a traditional Parisian pastry named for the patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs. While the finished gâteau is spectacular, it is built from simple pastry, pâte a choux, pastry cream, and whipped cream. Keep refrigerated.
- Pastry Dough
- Flour - 2 cups
- Unsalted Butter - 1 cup, at room temperature
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Sugar - 2 teaspoons
- Water - 1 cup
- Eggs - 3
- Pâte a Choux
- Water - 1 cup
- Butter - 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon
- Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- Sugar - 1 teaspoon
- All-Purpose Flour - 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons
- Eggs - 16
- Pastry Cream Filling
- Sugar - 1 cup + 2 tablespoons
- Milk - 4 cups
- Whole Eggs - 2
- Egg Yolks - 3
- Vanilla Extract - 3 to 4 drops
- Flour - 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon
- Sugar - 2 cups
- Water - 1 cup
- Whipped Cream
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2 cups
- Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Vanilla Extract - 2 to 3 drops
- Almonds - 1 pound, chopped, roasted
- Cherries - 1 cup, stemmed, pitted, and roughly chopped
To prepare the pastry dough: Blend the flour, butter, salt, and sugar by hand until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make a wide crater in the top and add the water and eggs. Mix well with the other ingredients, using your hands or a fork. Gather into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To prepare the pâte a choux (cream puff dough, or paste): Bring the water, butter, salt, and sugar to a boil in a large saucepan. While the mixture is boiling, add all the flour at one time. Reduce heat to low and stir together with a wooden spoon for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture forms a dough. Remove from the heat and stir in the eggs, 2 at a time, stirring with the wooden spoon until the mixture is thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly butter two baking sheets and sprinkle with flour; knock off any excess flour. Roll out the pastry dough to form a 9-inch circle. Put this on one of the prepared baking sheets. Prick lightly all over with a fork. Put the pâte a choux in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe a ring on top of the pastry dough at the outside edge. Pipe two more concentric rings inside the first, about two inches apart. On the second prepared baking sheet, pipe the remaining dough to form about 20 small mounds, about 1 inch in diameter. Using a fork, slightly flatten the puffs and circles of pâte a choux, dipping the fork in warm water between each item. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
To prepare the pastry cream: Place half of the sugar in a 2-quart saucepan. Pour in the milk and bring just to a boil. Break the eggs into a bowl, add the egg yolks, remaining sugar, and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add the flour and blend. Stir a large spoonful of the hot milk into the egg mixture to temper. Combine the egg mixture with the hot milk and bring back to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring gently, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Press plastic wrap on the surface and refrigerate until chilled.
To make the caramel: Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling the pan to blend. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook without stirring until the mixture turns a golden-brown color and is thick and syrupy. Place the pan in a large bowl of ice to stop the cooking. Set aside.
To prepare the whipped cream: Beat the cream until foamy. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat to soft peaks. Add the vanilla and beat to firm peaks.
To assemble the cake: Slip the pastry circle from the baking sheet onto a piece of gold cardboard or foil-covered cardboard, or a large serving plate. Spread the roasted almonds in a shallow dish. Using a small knife, poke holes in the bottoms of the cream puffs. Put the pastry cream into a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip. Press the tip into the holes and fill the puffs with pastry cream. Set aside. Dip the bottoms of the cream puffs in the caramel and then into the almonds. Fill the center of the baked ring with pastry cream. Arrange the cream puffs around the edge of the pastry dough, on top of the ring. Fill the center of the ring up to the tops of the puffs with whipped cream, covering the pastry cream. Garnish with chopped cherries.