Challenge number 2 – Gateau Saint Honore

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I don’t know if you have noticed that some members of the Daring Bakers have been posting dishes including puff pastry and/or Chiboust/Diplomat Creme? There’s a good reason for this, no there are good reasons for this, one and the main one is that they are two of the three main parts of the Daring Bakers May’s Challenge: the Gateau Saint Honore chosen by Helene of Tartelette. I was actually happy when I saw that this would be my second challenge because now I had to conquer two recipes that I had always feared in some way or at least felt too inadequate to try, puff pastry and cream puffs. Marco has always been exhorting me to make bigné because he is very goloso (a beautiful Italian word for being crazy about a dish or ingredient, gola means throat) of cream puffs filled with cream but I have always thought that they were too difficult. But how wrong I was. This cake took me two days to make, not because it was difficult but because some parts, read puff pastry, was very time consuming due to all the time it had to rest. Lazy bastard.

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Before starting the whole thing I studied the three pages of Helene’s recipes and instructions that I had printed out as if I was having an exam. I just wish my children studied to theirs like I did for this challenge, they would come out on top, well maybe not because even though I studied, I did fail one part and one that I was supposed to be able to do in my sleep. Anyway, Saturday was spent making the puff pastry and Sunday I dedicated to making the rest of the cake, i.e. the cream puffs and the Chiboust creme. Plus feeding my children, forcing them to make their home work and trying to be at least a little bit with Marco so it took me almost the whole day to make it. Not to forget that our tiny village suddenly ran out of water just when I needed it the most, not a drop came out of the tap. But I found ways to make it anyway, I scraped off the cream puff dough from the pastry bag that I had turned inside out and put the whipped cream in it instead and I used a syringe that I use to give my children (only the youngest nowadays) liquid medicines with to fill the cream puffs with the creme Chiboust. And it was very hot and it took about 2 seconds for everything to start to melt. So when I came to the assembly part, I was a bit tense. And tired. But I had managed to make everything perfectly despite deviations and problems so I was feeling good. Until I started with the caramelized sugar.

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Now I have never ever failed with that, never, I always managed it easily but last Sunday it just didn’t want to do anything else than crystallize. After three attempts and quite a lot of bad language I suddenly realized that I just could skip it, this wasn’t an exam, I was supposed to enjoy it and I could actually do what I wanted and so I did. I can’t remember the last time I felt such a relief but it was almost worth the struggle to be able to feel like that. I still feel it actually when I’m writing this. And that’s why my Gateau Saint Honore isn’t looking as good as the other Daring Bakers‘ do, I just planted the cream puffs on top using the whipped cream to hide the lack of caramel on top and used strawberries to decorate with. Sorry about the crappy photos but I had to shoot them quickly because it was so hot, I was very tired and Marco was getting very impatient to taste it.

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Thanks Helene for choosing this challenge so well, I did enjoy it a lot and best of all, I now know that I can make both puff pastry and cream puffs on my own.
If you want to see the recipe you can find it here on Tartelette and both Helene and Anita of Dessert First will post the links to all the Daring Bakers. You can also click on the DB logo in the right hand margin.

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