If you’re in the mood for a show-stopping dessert, look no further than the Gateau St.Honoré. Named after the patron saint of pastry chefs, this choux pastry gateau is a true masterpiece. It features a light and creamy Crème Chiboust filling, topped with cream and caramel. While it may seem like a baking marathon with its many elements, the end result is well worth the effort.
I have to admit, it’s been years since I last made a Gateau St.Honoré. But when it was featured on the Great British Bake Off as a technical challenge, I was reminded of just how incredible this confection can be. And so, I knew it was time to revisit this classic recipe.
The Gateau St.Honoré Base
While some recipes call for a puff pastry base, I’ve always preferred using a sweet shortcrust pastry. There’s something about the contrast between the crisp pastry base and the chewy choux pastry balls that I find irresistible. This gateau is all about different textures.
To make the base, simply roll out the pastry into a 20cm (8in) diameter circle and pinch the edges to neaten. Alternatively, you can use the base of a cake tin to cut out a neat circle from the pastry.
The Choux Pastry
Before we move on, pop the pastry base into the refrigerator while you prepare the choux pastry. Bring the butter and water to a boil, then immediately add all the flour and beat well. The dough will come together into a ball around the spoon. Let it cool for a few minutes before beating in the eggs.
Be careful not to add the eggs too soon, as the hot pastry could cook them. I personally find it easier to beat in the eggs with a wooden spoon rather than using an electric whisk, as it saves on washing up. Add the egg a little at a time and mix until well incorporated.
Once the choux pastry is ready, spoon it into a piping bag fitted with a star or plain nozzle. Pipe small balls of choux pastry in a circle on top of the pastry base. Then, pipe the remaining choux pastry into small balls on another baking sheet. Bake and allow them to cool.
The Crème Chiboust
In my original recipe, I used a plain Crème Pâtissière filling. However, this time I wanted to go with the traditional Crème Chiboust. This light and fluffy filling, named after the 19th-century pastry Chef M Chiboust, adds a delightful mousse-like texture to the gateau.
The Chantilly Cream
Chantilly cream, sweetened with sugar, is the perfect topping for the Crème Chiboust. Traditionally, a special St. Honoré piping tip is used to pipe the cream, but a star nozzle works just as well. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also add a layer of fresh berries between the cream and the Crème Chiboust during the summer season.
The final element of the Gateau St.Honoré is the caramel. While many recipes dip the choux buns into thick caramel, I prefer a more delicate touch. Simply fix a second ring of choux pastry balls on top of the gateau, securing them with a little cream. Then, drizzle thin strands of caramel over the choux buns. This creates a beautiful and more tooth-friendly caramel layer.
When making caramel, I recommend using cane sugar to avoid crystallization. Make sure all the sugar crystals have dissolved before bringing the syrup to a boil. Gently swirl the pan as it caramelizes, and when it reaches a golden brown color, stop the cooking process by dipping the base of the pan into cold water.
Now, you’ll need to work quickly (and carefully, as the syrup is extremely hot) to drizzle the caramel over the choux pastry. You can also drizzle a few thin strands over the cream, but be careful not to make them too thick, as the caramel could melt the cream.
And voilà! Your Gateau St.Honoré is complete. All that’s left to do is serve and enjoy this epic cake creation.
Gateau St.Honoré Step by Step
Here’s a visual guide to help you through the process:
Roll out the base to a circle and pinch the edges to crimp.
Make the choux pastry. Bring the butter and water to a boil, then add the flour and beat well.
Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then slowly beat in the eggs.
Pipe balls of choux pastry around the edge of the pastry base.
Pipe the remaining choux pastry into small balls on a baking sheet. Bake them until golden.
Fix a second ring of choux pastry balls on top, securing them with a little cream.
Spoon the Crème Chiboust into the center of the gateau.
Pipe a layer of cream on top of the Crème Chiboust and chill.
Make the caramel by dissolving sugar in water and boiling until golden.
Drizzle the caramel over the gateau.
Serve and enjoy your delicious Gateau St.Honoré!