Friday, May 12, 2006

Saintly Pastry.

On May 16th …

Today is the feast day of St. Honoré, the patron saint of bakers, pastrycooks and confectioners. So, unless you are too full of zarzuelas, barquillos, churros, and buñuelos from yesterday’s feast for San Isidro, a pastry feast is in order. The choice is easy, because St. Honoré has a cake specifically named for him – a delicious choux pastry, cream filled gateau topped with little balls of pastry (as in profiteroles) and attributed to the famous Parisian pastrycook Chiboust in 1846. Did he really name it in honour of the saint, or the Parisian district where he ran his business? Does it matter?

Chiboust certainly did not invent the choux pastry for the Gateau St Honoré, its origins are somewhere in misty antiquity, perhaps in the sixteenth century, as an adaptation of a fritter dough. He was presumably however, responsible for the “Crème Chiboust” that fills the cake. It is essentially a standard crème pâtissière made lighter by having stiffly beaten egg whites folded through it.

From Larousse, the paste and the filling:

Chou paste I (d’office):
Pour 4 cups (a litre) of water with ¾ cup (200 gms) of butter and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt into a pan. Bring to the boil. Remove from the fire and add 4 ¾ cups (625 gms) of sieved flour, pouring it all in at once. Mix well.
Cook this composition on the fire, stirring with a wooden spoon until it dries and comes away from the walls of the pan.
Remove from the fire and, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon, add from 12-14 eggs (depending on size) putting them in two at a time.

Cream filling for the Saint-Honoré:
3 cups (3/4 litre) of French pastry cream (Crême patissière). Heat it, and add to it while warm 6 leaves of gelatine (or 1 ounce of granulated gelatine) previously soaked in cold water and softened.
Beat 6 egg whites stiffly, sprinkling them lightly with sugar when stiff, to prevent them from separating. Incorporate them rapidly into the pastry cream, and fill the inside of the Saint-Honoré with the resulting cream, using a forcing (pastry) bag and a large, fluted nozzle.

You’ll have to assemble it yourself from an illustration, or you can simply make profiteroles and fill them with the cream – it will be much easier to serve!

Tomorrow: The delights of Mafeking.

Quotation for the Day …

Baking is just like driving a car; you can read every manual you can get your hands on, but until you get in and do it, you won't really learn how. Marion Cunningham.

No comments: