I need to invent a device that would allow me to experience the sensation of eating something when someone else eats it. I would make millions, and then all the treats I make my husband eat vicariously would be enjoyed that much more. He likes sweets, but not as much as I do. So, the beautiful spreads of French pastries in the windows of the hundreds of patisseries I've drooled over don't tempt him like they do me...but alas I am the one that can't eat them.
In honor of Bastille Day, I am hosting a French food theme for this months Go Ahead, Honey, It's Gluten-free. In the true spirit of the event, I let me Celiac son, along with his little brother peruse my French pastry text and pick out anything he wanted me to make gluten-free. And what he wanted was the Saint-Honore's Cake. Above the cakes with layers of chocolate mousse or fancy designs...
St. Honore's Cake is a French pastry named after the patron saint of pastry chefs. It is a base of pate brisee (pie crust) or puff pastry, topped with rings of pate choux (cream puff dough), and cream puffs. It is filled with creme chiboust, which is a pastry cream lightened with Italian meringue.
For my version of the cake, we used pate brisee, scented the cream with cardamom instead of vanilla. This weeks haul of stone fruit from the CSA box was taunting me, and I couldn't leave it out of the party. So I added a layer of roasted stone fruit (plums and peaches), also with a touch of cardamom and set with a bit of gelatin so it wouldn't sog up the pate choux.
With the pate brisee base, this cake is easier to make than it looks, albeit many steps. It also works very well gluten-free. I did learn though that you can't let the creme chiboust sit while tending to a screaming toddler - it deflates a bit. Of course, kids are more important and I can make a perfectly light creme chiboust when the kids are grown right?
Adapted from The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts by The French Culinary Institute
Pate Brisee (makes twice as much as you need)
- 250 grams gluten-free cake flour*
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 t sugar
- 125 grams cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 egg plus 2 t cold water, plus more cold water as needed
* I used 1 part cornstarch, 1 part rice flour, 1/2 part tapioca starch, 1/2 t xanthan gum per 1 cup flour.
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, salt, sugar.
- Add butter and pulse until the butter breaks down into pea size pieces and smaller.
- Add beaten egg and 2 t water. Pulse. Squeeze dough with your fist - it should stick together but not be too crumbly. Add water a couple of teaspoons at a time just until it is wet enough to hold together without being crumbly. Pat into 2 round disks and wrap well. Chill for 2 hours.
- 125 grams butter cut into small pieces
- 1/2 t sugar
- 1/4 t salt
- 170 grams gluten-free bread flour*
- 5-6 eggs, room temperature
- Combine butter, sugar, salt and 1 cup of water in a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately after it comes to a boil add flour and mix vigorously until it pulls away from the sides and forms a ball. This doesn't take long with gluten-free flours.
- Put the dough into a stand mixer and beat on medium-high for 1 minute to allow it to cool a bit.
- Add two eggs and beat until well incorporated. It will look like a soupy mess, but it will smooth out.
- Add one egg at a time, until you reach 5 eggs. Then check the consistency of the batter. If you drop a lump of it, it should have a tip that bends over a bit. If it can take another egg, add it.
- 1 t gelatin bloomed in 1 T water
- 40 grams sugar
- 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 15 grams cornstarch
- 6 1/2 ounces whole milk
- 7 cardamom pods, cracked slightly
- 150 grams sugar
- 75 grams egg whites
- Mix together 20 grams of sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside.
- Mix milk, remaining sugar, and cardamom pods in a saucepan and scald. Turn off heat and allow to steep for 1 hour. Strain out cardamom pods.
- Return to heat. Add in egg yolk mixture and over medium heat bring to a boil.
- Add in gelatin, allow it to melt and transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Make meringue by placing 115 grams sugar in a sauce pan barely covered with cold water. Start heating over medium-high heat, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved.
- Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Start mixing on low when the sugar comes to a boil, then increase to high. When soft peaks begin to form, add the rest of the sugar and mix to blend. Don't overbeat at this point.
- When the sugar syrup reaches 234 degrees, pout into a glass measuring cup with a pouring spout and drizzle into the egg whites between the bowl and whisk with the mixer on low.
- Increase mixer to high and beat until the meringue cools, is shiny and holds stiff peaks.
- Take 1/4 of the meringue and mix it into the cardamom infused pastry cream with a spatula. This lightens the cream. Then fold in the rest of the meringue gently.
- Pipe immediately.
Assembling the cake
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two sheet pans by lining with Silpat.
- Roll out pate brisee into a 8 1/2 inch circle and poke with a fork all over. Chill while making the pate choux.
- Pipe about 1/4 inch from the edge a circle of pate choux onto the pate brisee, and inside that another ring of pate choux.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.
- Meanwhile pipe the rest of the choux paste on the second sheet pan in golf ball size balls separated by about one inch.
- When the pate brisee finishes baking remove from oven and increase temperature to 450 degrees.
- Bake the second pan of choux for about 40 minutes until it is brown throughout, light and dry. Don't take it out too early or it will fall. Remove and allow them to cool for 20 minutes before filling.
- Make the creme chiboust while they are baking - but try to time it so it the choux are cooled when you finish the creme chiboust.
- Dip each choux in caramelized sugar. You won't need all of the choux - you may wish to dry fit them to see how many you need. Then pipe in creme chiboust by poking a hole in the bottom of the choux.
- If using fruit, add that to the pate brisee base. Then place on the filled choux.
- Finally, pipe in your remaining creme chiboust and chill for at least 2-3 hours to set the creme.