Stay tuned... sordid details to come after we recover from the weekend...
For inquiring minds, sordid details involve alternate uses for the pastry cream. Most of them are rated G... :)
Update 5/29 - Okay folks, I've slept, I've showered and I've fixed myself a snack. My laptop battery's charged, my photos are cropped, color corrected and ready to go. Thanks for your patience, and I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures with St. Honore as much as I enjoyed living them!
Those of you who've been around for a while may already know that one of our favorite extracurricular activities outside the kitchen is square dancing. And a few of you who know us personally or have been following very closely know that we've spent the past several years planning and promoting a dance festival for our regional association. A festival with over 700 attendees, scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend - May 25-27, 2007.
As a result, our free time has been at a premium for the last several months, especially on the weekends. The *perfect* time to join the Daring Bakers and commit to
a Crepe Cake the piece de resistance in the world of pastry: Gateau St. Honore.
The pressure mounted in April and I bailed on the Crepe Cake. But I wasn't letting my Daring Baker buddies down two months in a row. No matter what challenge lay ahead, victory would be mine.
Then Helene of Tartlette and Dessert First's Anita announced their
diabolical sadistic brilliant plan for this month's challenge: Gateau St. Honore. Puff Pastry. Pate a Choux for Cream Puffs. Diplomat Cream. Caramel. None of which I have any prior experience with preparing. I look at the calendar. Look at the three pages of instructions. Look back at the calendar. Fortunately, sleep is highly overrated... it doesn't look like I'm going to get much of it this month.
Even more fortunately for me, John's not just a wonderful, gorgeous man and a great dancer. He's also very comfortable, highly competent, and extremely happy working with me in the kitchen.
"This month's Daring Baker assignment looks like a LOT of fun. Wanna help me make a St. Honore?"
"Sure. When's it due?"
"Um... Memorial Day?"
After nearly asphyxiating with laughter, he agreed to pitch in and help out.
First stop, Home Chef for pastry tips. What do you MEAN I need to buy a $70 set? I need two tips, a bag and a coupler. Fine. Second stop, Sur la Table for pastry tips. Thirty bucks ($8 for the tips and $22 for other must have items I didn't know I needed until I saw them. Still better than $70.)
Third stop, Whole Foods for Dufour all-butter puff pastry. Hey, Anita and Helene say that frozen puff pastry is okay, and I'm challenged *enough* at the moment, thanks...
Once in the kitchen, the pastries actually came together fairly quickly. I'd considered a square or triangular base, but John thought our first attempt should be a traditional St. Honore so that's the road we took. The cream puffs were fun; I can guarantee we'll be experimenting with our new found skills with pate a choux and pastry bags soon.
It was the Diplomat Cream that gave us the biggest challenge. I'm not sure where we erred, but it came out more than a bit on the runny side. It dripped out of the pastry tip, oozed out of the bag, and ran down our fingers and our arms when we tried to fill the puffs.
At this point, one of us decided to taste it. And discovered that it ranks right up with with Fiorello's Caramel Balsamic Gelato and less than a handful of other foods. It is the perfect substance for licking off someone you love. Fortunately, the recipe makes WAY more pastry cream than you need. :)
We stashed *most* of the cream and the components in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, after which assembly was much easier (although the cream puffs became a bit chewy).
By this time it was pushing 4 AM and I abandoned the caramelized sugar (the one component of this creation with which I *did* have previous experience) in favor of sleep before sunrise.
So that's my story. For forty-some others, check out the Daring Baker links in the right hand column or the roundups posted at Dessert First and Tartlette.
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