Paris Brest is a classic pastry dessert that uses Pate a Choux dough, commonly known as choux paste. It’s one of the simplest pastry doughs to make and can be used in multiple ways.
Traditionally, A Paris Brest is sliced after its baked then filled like a sandwich and then garnished.
Here, I make an open faced version that is super light and refreshing to serve for a crowd, or eat it all yourself 🙂
Choux Dough Basics
Pate a Choux has super simple components:
- The recipe starts on the stovetop in a saucepan melting the butter and water, them removed from the heat.
- Flour is added then stirred by hand till a moist dough comes together.
- The dough is then place in a mixer and eggs are added till a shinny dough is formed.
- This dough gets piped into various shapes depending on the dessert you are making.
- While baking, it puffs up and turns into a beautiful brown, golden color that is just waiting for a filling!
Pate a Choux Variations
This versatile dough is used to make some some amazing desserts and mini pastries into different shapes and sizes like:
- Cream Puffs (Puffs shaped filled with cream or pastry cream)
- Gourgeres (Puffs that are savory cheese cream puffs)
- Eclairs (Logs filled with pastry cream and topped with chocolate ganache
- Paris-Brest (Large round wheel, sliced and filled with filling)
- Croquembouche (Cream puffs made into a tower)
I remember working in corporate catering, we made mini French pastries as part of the dessert menu daily that included Chocolate Eclairs. Literally, we made 1000’s of these during the week!
My First Journey
My first experience with Choux paste was my pre-culinary school days. I taught myself how to make this dough and turned them into delicious chicken puffs. They were filled with fresh chicken salad filling and made super delicious appetizers! At the time, eclairs seemed a bit intimidating to me!
This dessert is the larger of the Pate a Choux varieties. Tradionally, the pastry is piped into a large wheel, baked, cooled, sliced, and stuffed with a cream filling.
However, this version is open faced. Staying with tradition, its is piped into a large wheel shape, but with a decorative piping tip to give it a neat design.
Also, I use a rosette as my design for the wheel with a star tip. But, instead of slicing and filling it, the filling is piped right onto the pastry like a pizza crust and decorated with fruit and powdered sugar.
Orange is the focus on this dessert and it gets a delicious orange pastry cream sitting next to fresh whipped cream, topped with fresh orange supremes and a dusting of powdered sugar! Delightful!
The dessert is so light and refreshing and you can mix and match your fillings and decorations. Almonds would make a great accompaniment to give it some texture.
Sky is the limit here with so many ways to make this your own creation.
Pate a Choux Swans
A fun way to use leftover choux paste is to make these fun swans. I will always remember making these in culinary school. It’s been years since I made them!
Making the Swans
I use two tips for these:
- Small Plain Tip
- Medium Star tip
Body: Piped into small shell patterns with the star tip
Neck: Piped with the plain tip into a question mark
These get baked off at 400 degrees for 15 minutes for the necks, and 20-25 minutes for the body.
Each body piece gets sliced off about 1/3 of the way from the top to form the wings. Then, that piece gets sliced down the middle to form two small wings.
Fresh cream gets piped onto the flat body and then the two wings are placed in the cream on either side.
The neck is then inserted into the center of the cream between the two wings. Finishing off with a dusting of powdered sugar. They are so cute aren’t they?
A swan is born!
Love pastry? Check out other post in my “Pastry 101” series
Paris-Brest with Orange Pastry Cream
Classic pastry piped into a decorative wheel and garnished with orange pastry cream, fresh whipped cream, and fresh orange slices.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 8 1x
Pate a Choux Dough
- 1 stick butter (unsalted)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup flour
- 4 eggs
Orange Pastry Cream
- 1 orange (skin peeled (use vegetable peeler))
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 TBS cornstarch
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 TBS unsalted butter
- 1 tsp orange extract or flavoring
- orange slices/Supremes
- fresh whipped cream
- In a small saucepan, heat the butter and water till the butter dissolves on medium heat.
Remove from the heat, add in the flour and use a wooden spoon to mix till a dough comes together in a ball.
- Allow to cool for one minute.
Place the dough in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Turn the mixer on medium low and add the eggs one at a time. Allow each egg to incorporate before adding the next one.
- After the addition of the last egg, you should see a shiny dough formed.
- Place the dough in a pastry bag with a medium star tip ( I used Ateco #867).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- On a sheet of parchment paper, draw a 10″ circle in pencil. Flip the sheet over and place on a baking sheet.
- Pipe rosettes of dough around the perimeter of the circle that you drew, in a continuous pattern till you have a ring of piped dough around the entire perimeter. If desired, pipe a star in front of the rosettes.
- Brush the pastry with egg wash and bake 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 then bake for about 30 min longer till the pastry is a medium golden brown and puffed. Make sure the pastry is a medium to dark golden or it will be raw on the inside.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely.
- The pastry cream will need to chill, making this up a day ahead and allow to sit in the refrigerator is ideal.
In a saucepan, bring the milk and orange peels up to a steep.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and egg yolks together till combined. Temper the hot milk into the yolks whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to a boil whisking constantly.
- Boil the mixture for 1-2 minutes till thickened. It will be thickened significantly.
Remove from the heat and stir in the extract and butter and mix till combined.
- Immediately pour into a bowl and cover with saran wrap making sure the saran wrap sits on top of the custard so it does not develop a film on top. Place in the refrigerator to cool at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Place the Paris-Brest on a serving platter. Pipe dollops of pastry cream with a plain tip or star tip around the perimeter of the Paris-Brest. Pipe the same with the fresh whipped cream.
- Garnish with fresh orange supreme slices on top of the whipped cream. Dust with powdered sugar.
Serve immediately or refrigerate lightly covered until ready to serve.
Can be refrigerated for a few days.