Paris-Brest was first invented in 1910 by a pastry chef honouring the Paris to Brest cycling race. Apparently the calorific dessert became very popular with the cyclists because it gave them a much needed energy boost.
The traditional Paris-Best is a ring (wheel) of choux pastry, filled with praline cream and topped with sliced almonds and powdered sugar.
The big challenge is always going to be getting the choux pastry perfect, but fortunately the assembly of this cake is pretty forgiving because you can patch it up as you go.
To help with the piping, draw a circle about 25cm wide on some baking paper and use this for your first ring. Do another ring outside it, and the third needs to be piped on top of the two in the crevice where they join.
As with all choux, make sure you let the steam out of the cooked pastry by piercing small holes in a number of places.
I used John Whaite’s recipe which is based on the principles of a Paris-Brest but has replaced praline filling with coffee and walnut flavoured cream.
I found it really useful that he provided the egg quantity in grams because this can sometimes be where the mixture falls down – it ends up being too wet or too thick.
I also really liked including chunks of walnut praline because it gave a delicious texture.
John warns that you may want to use decaf coffee if this is for the whole family because you could keep the kids wide awake for hours!
Coffee and walnut praline choux ring (based on recipe from John Whaite Bakes)
1 quantity choux pastry (John uses ratios of 220ml water, 80g butter, 125g plain flour and 220g beaten egg)
400ml double cream
6 tbsp icing sugar (I only used 5)
2 tbsp freeze-dried coffee dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water (I used 1 shot of espresso)
250g mascarpone cream
150g caster sugar and 1 tbsp water
100g walnut pieces
For the icing – 125g icing sugar and ½ tbsp water
Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Make the choux paste according to the recipe, and pipe a ring of pastry onto a baking sheet. Pipe another ring directly next to it, and a third ring on top of the first two using the line where they meet as a guide.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until dark golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely.
Make the cream by whipping together the cream with the mascarpone, sugar and coffee.
Make the praline by mixing together the caster sugar and water in a saucepan. Place it over a high heat and allow to boil until it turns a light golden colour.
Remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts, then tip onto a lined baking sheet and leave to cool.
Once the choux ring is cooled, slice it in half horizontally with a bread knife. Use a star piping nozzle and pipe the cream onto the bottom half of the choux ring.
Chop up the praline into small chunks, then sprinkle ¾ of the praline on top of the cream. Place the top half of the choux ring on the cream.
Make the icing by mixing the sugar and water together, then drizzle over the top of the ring. Sprinkle across the remaining praline.