Just one small caramel burn… a success story

You´ve all heard about the debacle that was last month´s Daring Bakers challenge, so when Helene chose the Gateau St. Honoré as the recipe for May´s challenge, I guess you could say I was a bit apprehensive… or I guess you could also say I was scared to death.

Gateau St. Honore 2

Let´s do a bit of a recipe recap here, shall we? Puff pastry base, preferably homemade (I´ve been avoiding that for a long time, but I felt it was time to go for it, we are supposed to be daring after all), St. Honoré Cream (similar to a pastry cream, been there, done that, not scary), cream puffs pastry (I think I´ve also done that before, either way, not particularly scary) and then the cream puffs are glued to the base with caramel, now that´s the other scary part. You see, when you are a clumsy person, there´s always the fear of severe bodily harm, but things like caramel in particular are pretty scary stuff.

Gateau St. Honore

But I forged ahead and try to plan everything very well so as to avoid a disaster. I did the puff pastry over a week in advance and froze it. Surprisingly, it wasn´t difficult at all (just be prepared to be very patient and methodic). And I tried a piece right away and made some amazing palmiers because this recipe makes like double of what´s needed for the cake. The palmiers are one of the first things I learned how to bake… with store-bought puff pastry back then obviously. You just need a rectangular sheet of puff pastry and a mix of sugar and lemon zest (or any flavoring you like). You spread the sugar mix over the puff pastry, roll each of the shorter sides towards the middle till the two sides meet, cut every 1 cm or so, place in a cookie sheet, bake, turn over, and bake and you end up with these delicious beauties.

homemade palmiers

homemade palmiers 2

Sorry, detour over. For the rest of the cake, I had saved away a whole afternoon on my mom´s birthday because my family was coming over to celebrate that night. You know what they say about the best laid plans… turns out I got a notice from the Postal Services Customs Office to go pick up the cookbooks I had ordered from Amazon. I could have waited a few days, but I think you can understand the strong urge to go that very day (especially since I had been waiting forever to get my hands on those books… and one of them was Dorie´s!).

The post office closes at 5 pm and is in downtown Buenos Aires, and I got the notice at noon, which means I had to rush like crazy if I wanted to make it on time. I ended up leaving at 2.30 pm with everything ready… and a caramel-burnt finger! Well, you can´t have it all, can you?

Gateau St. Honore 3

Good news is that everything was pretty straightforward and the cake was amazingly creamy and delicious. I don´t like rhum, so I added a touch of lemon juice and tons of lemon and orange zest instead to the St. Honoré cream (that´s the one thing we could change in the recipe.)

Gateau St. Honore 4

For the decoration, I went very simple and used a recipe for caramelized orange wedges by Ilva, which worked wonderfully with the flavor of the cake and added another layer of texture and flavor.

Needless to say, with three wonderful cookbooks to explore, a burnt finger and night-time lightning, my pictures are pretty subpar, but I´m hoping you´ll forgive me and trust me when I say this one was a big hit. Oh and I made some wonderful savory tarts with the leftover puff pastry, but they were eaten way too fast and I wasn´t able to take pictures. I know, bad bad blogger!

Gateau St. Honore 5

So thanks Helene and Anita for chosing such a wonderful recipe and allowing me to learn quite a few techniques along the way. I can´t wait to see what next month brings!

Now go check out what the rest of the Daring Bakers have to say about the experience and see some wonderful pictures.

(Long, long recipe after the jump)

Gateau Saint Honore (double check the metric, I used gourmetsleuth.com for some parts)

Components and respective recipes follow:

Puff pastry
Pate a Choux – Cream Puff Dough
Saint Honore Cream
8oz sugar for caramel
1 cup heavy cream + 1 tsp sugar

Pate a Choux – Cream Puffs Dough

4 ¾ oz. all purpose flour (135 gr)
1 cup water ( 240 ml)
2 oz unsalted butter (58 gr)
¼ tsp. salt (1 gr)
1 cup eggs (240 ml)

Sift the flour and set aside.
Heat the water, butter and salt to a full rolling boil, so that the fat is not just floating on the top but is dispersed throughout the liquid.
Stir the flour into the liquid with a heavy wooden spoon, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed. Avoid adding it all at once or it will form clumps.
Cook, stirring constantly and breaking up the lumps if necessary, by pressing them against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 2-3 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a mixer bowl. Let the paste cool slightly so that the eggs will not cook when they are added. You can add and stir the eggs by hand but it requires some serious elbow grease.
Mix in the eggs, one at a time, using the paddle attachment on low or medium speed. Do not add all the eggs at once. Check after a few, the dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise.
Transfer the dough to a piping bag and use as desired.

Pate Feuillete – Puff Pastry:

Makes about 2 1/2 pounds.
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface (420 gr)
3/4 cup cake flour (105 gr)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (7 gr)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, well chilled (60 gr)
1 1/4 cups cold water (295.5 ml)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (14 gr)
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, well-chilled (405 gr)

1/ Make the dough package: In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours with the salt. Scatter butter pieces over the flour mixture; using your fingers or a pastry cutter, incorporate butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
2/ Form a well in center of mixture, and pour the water into well. Using your hands, gradually draw flour mixture over the water, covering and gathering until mixture is well blended and begins to come together. Gently knead mixture in the bowl just until it comes together to form a dough, about 15 seconds. Pat dough into a rough ball, and turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly, and place in refrigerator to chill 1 hour.
3/ Make the butter package: Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon flour on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Place uncut sticks of butter on top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon flour. Top with another sheet of paper; using a rolling pin, pound butter to soften and flatten to about 1/2 inch. Remove top sheet of paper, and fold butter package in half onto itself. Replace top sheet of paper, and pound again until butter is about A inch thick. Repeat process two or three times, or until butter becomes quite pliable. Using your hands, shape butter package into a 6-inch square. Wrap well in plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator until it is chilled but not hardened, no more than 10 minutes.
4/ Assemble and roll the dough: Remove dough package from refrigerator, and place on a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll dough into a 9-inch round. Remove butter package from refrigerator, and place it in the center of the dough round. Using a paring knife or bench scraper, lightly score the dough to outline the butter square; remove butter, and set it aside. Starting from each side of the center square, gently roll out dough with the rolling pin, forming four flaps, each 4 to 5 inches long; do not touch the raised square in the center of the dough. Replace butter package on the center square. Fold flaps of dough over the butter package so that it is completely enclosed. Press with your hands to seal.
5/ Using the rolling pin, press down on the dough at regular intervals, repeating and covering the entire surface area, until it is about 1 inch thick. Gently roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 9 by 20 inches, with one of the short sides closest to you. Be careful not to press too hard around the edges, and keep the corners even as you roll out the dough by squaring them with the side of the rolling pin or your hands. Brush off any excess flour. Starting at the near end, fold the rectangle in thirds as you would a business letter; this completes the first single turn.Wrap in plastic wrap; place in refrigerator 45 to 60 minutes.
6/ Remove dough from refrigerator, and repeat process in step 5, giving it five more single turns.Always start with the flap opening on the right as if it were a book. Mark the dough with your knuckle each time you complete a turn to help you keep track. Chill 1 hour between each turn. After the sixth and final turn, wrap dough in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before using.

Saint Honore Cream (Rapid Chiboust or Diplomat Cream)
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (7 gr.)
1/4 cup cold water (60 ml)
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar (130 gr)
½ cup all-purpose flour (70 gr)
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk (500ml)
1 Tb. rum (I used lemon juice instead and then probably 1 Tb. of lemon zest and 1 Tb. of orange zest)
¼ cup whipping cream (57 gr)
3 egg whites
dash of salt
1/2 cup sugar (105 gr)

Soak the gelatin in the 1/4 cup of cold water.
Put the sugar, flour, and salt into a saucepan and stir together with a whisk. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk.
Place over low heat and stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Stir in the whipping cream.Set the mixing bowl in cold water and stir until the cream is cool. Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and using clean beaters, whip them with the dash of salt. As soon as the whites begin to stiffen, gradually add the 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until they are very stiff. Fold the egg whites into the cooled cream.

8 oz sugar (240 gr)


Roll the puff pastry out to 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick, 12 inch square (30 cm). Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate covered at least 20 minutes.
While the puff pastry is resting, make the pate a choux and place it in a pastry bag with a # 4 (8mm) plain tip. Reserve.
Leaving the puff pastry on the sheet pan, cut a 11 inch (27.5 cm) circle from the dough and remove the scraps. (An easy way to cut it is to use a 11inch tart pan as a “cookie cutter”). Prick the circles lightly with a fork.
Pipe 4 concentric rings of Pate a Choux on the pastry circle. Pipe out 12 cream puffs the size of Bing cherries onto the paper around the cake.
Bake the puff pastry circle and the cream puffs at 400F (205C) until the pate a choux has puffed, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375F (190C) and bake until everything is dry enough to hold its shape, about 35 minutes longer for the cake and 8 minutes longer for the cream puffs (just pick them up and take them out as they are done)
Place about 4 oz (114 gr) of the Saint Honore Cream in a pastry bag with a #2 (4mm) plain tip. Use the pastry bag tip or the tip of a paring knife to make a small hole in the bottom of each cream puff. Pipe the cream into the cream puffs to fill them. Refrigerate.
Spread the remaining cream filling on the cake. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set the cream.
Caramelize the 8 oz. of sugar:
Fill a bowl that is large enough to hold the pan used for cooking the sugar with enough cold water to reach halfway up the sides of the pan. Set the bowl aside.
Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and cook until the sugar until it has caramelized to just a shade lighter than the desired color.
Remove from the heat and immediately place the bottom of the pan in the bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.
Dip the cream puffs into the hot caramel, using 2 forks or tongues to avoid burning your fingers. Place them on a sheet pan. The caramel must be hot enough to go on in a thin layer. Reheat if necessary as you are dipping, stirring constantly to avoid darkening the caramel any more than necessary. Also, avoid any Saint Honore cream to leak out of the puffs and get mixed in with the caramel while dipping as the cream can cause the sugar to recrystallize.
Whip the one cup of heavy cream and teaspoon of sugar to stiff peaks. Place the whipped cream in pastry bag fitted with a #5 (10mm) star tip. Pipe a border of whipped cream around the top of the cake. Arrange the cream puffs, evenly spaced, on top of the filling, next to the cream.

Option: Before filling the cake, take care of the cream puffs, dip them in more caramel, hook them up to the base. Fill with the cream filling and fill the holes with the whipped cream.


Filed under Daring bakers, sweet

38 responses to “Just one small caramel burn… a success story

  1. Oh, Pip it is lovely. Terrific cake for your mom’s birthday! It is impressive! Well done.
    I would have had to go to the post for the books as well, could not have waited.
    I have the feeling the puff pastry is really the best thing going…I still have to make it myself.

  2. It’s the perfect cake for a special occasion! Wait, I’m lying… you are now in possession of my bible, and within it you will find the perfect baked good for EVERY occasion… Dorie’s just that amazing! (I’ve made 3 of her recipes in the past week…)

  3. Looks beautiful and I’m feeling ever so honoured of being sort of present on the top of it! Im sure your mother loved it!

  4. I love the use of orange flavouring the cream and the decoration on the top! And I was going to make some palmiers with my leftover puff too!

  5. At least yours looks like is should! My cake just says a lot about me… messy.

  6. No way I would have been able to wait for those cookbooks either! A slice of heavenly cake and new recipes to explore sounds pretty perfect!

  7. Beautiful job! And I LOVE the carmelized orange wedges.

  8. Gorgeous. I love how high that puff pastry rose. Simply wonderful!

  9. Anne

    Your puff pastry came out really nice. Well done!

  10. Great idea with the caramelize orange wedges. Your cake looks decadent with all that cream. You were smart to make your puff pastry way ahead of time. They do freeze very well.

  11. Beautiful work Pip! I love the caramelized oranges on top, what a lovely touch!

  12. Love it! Your puff pastry rose up so high, and I can imagine the oranges would be lovely with it, and inkeeping with the golden hues too 🙂

  13. Looks great, and I love the use of citrus. I’m sure Saint Honore would be pleased. 🙂

    Now I need to stop reading posts about the challenge and go start on mine! I’m so last minute this month!

  14. The gods smile upon us these days (and St Honore as well I think). Love the way your puff puffed!

  15. I believe it was a great hit! Excellent job.

  16. Sorry about the burnt finger!

    But nice job with the puff pastry and congratulations on a lovely gateau!

  17. Excellent job! i am already thinking about a next time with dulce de leche in the puffs…about that I made Dories’ dulce de leche cookies…delicious so your jar has been put to good use..but now it’s gone!
    Nice puffin’ on the pastry there!

  18. I think the citrus is a perfect match with all the yummy cream and flaky pastry. And I’m glad you’re enjoying your new cookbooks!

  19. That slice has me drooling on the keyboard. Citrus is a natural with this recipe and your puff pastry went sky high! Beautiful cake Marce.

  20. Marce, practice did make perfect!! Your cake looks scrumptious and I love the candied orange slices. What a delightfully puffy cake! Great job!!

  21. Jen

    Great job! I love the orange slices – very original. 🙂

  22. Fantastic!! I’ve slowly but surely worked my way down the DB list and I FINALLY get here – I’ve been looking forward all day!

    And I was not disappointed! I love your gateau and I’m tickled you made Ilva’s oranges! (I’m quite addicted.. so far I’ve done tangerines and satsumas. hee!) they make the perfect decoration!

    You did a terrific job, your Gateau St. Honore is smashing, sweetie!


  23. Beautiful work! I bet your mom was happy with the gateaux as a birthday cake and may want you to make it every year now! Good work!

  24. Marce, what a wonderful creation. And using oranges just won my heart.

  25. Pip, loved your touch with the lemon juice.And the palmiers have inspired me.

  26. Beautiful job with the gateau! I love the oranges!

  27. The use of orange in your recipe must have tasted so lovely. Great job.

  28. Hi Marce — Thanks for letting me know I left you out of my sidebar! And I love the idea of the citrus with this. I’ve made some candied slivers of orange peel that were terrific once upon a time, but nothing like what you’ve described here. Yum!

  29. Great Job! It looks beautiful! I am getting intimidated as a New Daring Baker! 🙂

  30. I just love reading these DB posts. They all look fantastic! You did a great job, Marce!

  31. Amy

    Your puff pastry looks amazing, I would have never guessed it was your first time! Great job with the gateau and palmiers yum!

  32. Hi, Finally got the chance to check out your blog following our e-mails last night. Wow for all the food and I particularly loved your decorated crepe cake from last months DB challenge – truly beautiful! and.. Your dog is just the cutest!

  33. Beautiful… I love the caramelized oranges. And I’m glad you didn’t get hurt!

  34. Hey everyone, THANK YOU for all those wonderful comments… I´m not used to getting so many so it took me a while to recover hahaha

    I´m gonna do a general reply so as to address everything at once.

    The orange and lemon flavours went perfectly with the cake… but I am a citrus lover, so I might be biased here. Ilva´s candied oranges were a dream (I did wake up when I got burnt, but then I went back to dreaming), so thank you so much Ilva for continuing to be an inspiration.

    My mom did love the cake and had quite a few slices, so mission accomplished… though I also had a few slices myself, and that´s no good.

    To the new Daring Bakers: no need to feel intimidated, if I can do it, you can… just don´t get to attached to your beautiful hands and your squeaky clean kitchen!

    And Amanda… Phoebe is the cutest indeed… in my totally objective opinion, of course.

  35. wow, way to go with this recipe… it looks like such a challenge… so many steps! you deserve a pat on the back and an extra piece of cake!

  36. What a great job you did! Fantastic job.

  37. OMG! I am so impressed you made a St. Honore cake from scratch. They are my favourite, but I have never seen one at a bakery here in BsAs.

  38. Pingback: Daring Bakers Challenge: Gâteau St. Honoré

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