Le St Honoré est une des grandes créations du 19eme siècle. (The St Honoré is one of the great creations of the 19th century.) Source

We watched Haute Cuisine a couple of years ago and were taken by the scene when Mazet-Delpeuch prepares a cake for Mitterand. In the movie, Gateau St. Honoré is the penultimate recipe – and we had never heard of it. Nothing is more interesting than a challenge – especially a challenge that ends in cake!

After spending hours researching cookbooks and online recipes we came up with our version. What’s fun about this cake is that (like most pastries) you can play with it. We use chocolate instead of caramel fans. Some recipes put strawberries on the top. Get the basics down then make it yours.

While this looks daunting at first, most of the components can be prepared days ahead of time and assembled the day you plan to serve. But, the cake should not be assembled sooner: the filling will break down. (There are recipes that use stabilized components to extend shelf time. Bakeries mostly use those versions: this is not one of those.)

Keep your assembled Gateau in the fridge and it should be fine for about 8 hours.

Check the bottom of the recipe for the schedule we use for Gateau St. Honoré.

Ingredients

for the pâte feuilletée (puff pastry)

  • 1 pound all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out dough (~3¾ cups)
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ~32 pieces per stick
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

for the pâte à choux (cream puffs)

  • 3½ ounces (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 6.4 ounces all-purpose flour (~1½ cups if you don’t have a scale)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 7 large eggs

for the crème pâtissière (pastry cream)

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3.5 ounces granulated sugar (~ ½ cup)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

for the caramel

  • 8.8 ounces granulated sugar (~ 1¼ cups)
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup

for the crème chantilly (whipped cream)

  • 1 quart (4 cups) heavy cream
  • 3 ounces confectioners sugar (~¾ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Hardware

  • Stand mixer with paddle & whip attachments
  • Parchment Paper
  • Pastry Bag
  • Ateco #9824 pastry tip (large round tip)
  • Ateco #6 pastry tip (small round tip)
  • Small offset spatula (the back of a large spoon will work in a pinch)

Shopping List

A compilation of ingredients for convenience.

  • ~2 pounds all purpose flour (+ more for dusting)
  • 1¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 14 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 cups heavy cream
  • 5 sticks butter
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • corn syrup (3 tablespoons)
  • vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
  • kosher salt

Prepare pâte feuilletèe

This is the most difficult part of the process.

If you don’t feel like tackling puff pastry, you can use Dufour’s Classic Puff Pastry in the freezer section of your market. It costs about twice as much as Pepperidge Farm but the product is distinctly superior.

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add 2.2 ounces (~½ cup) flour; mix until incorporated. Scrape the butter mixture onto a parchment sheet. Form into a neat 5-inch square, wrap in plastic and transfer to the refrigerator to chill.
  2. While the butter chills, place remaining flour in mixing bowl; add 1 cup water and the teaspoon salt. Mix (start slowly) until dough forms a ball, being careful not to overmix. Your dough will be fairly shaggy and dry. Gather the shaggy bits into the ball in the mixing bowl, pat with your hands to form it up and wrap in plastic. Chill ~30 minutes in the refrigerator – taking care not to let the butter square chill for more than ~45 minutes.
  3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 6-by-12-inch rectangle.

Don’t pull the dough into a rectangle because it will shrink back. Use your rolling pin to push it into shape. A french rolling pin makes quick work of this since there is a power spot in the center.

Butter Block

Butter Block

  1. Place the chilled butter square in the center of the bottom half of the rectangle. Fold the top half of the dough down to completely encase the butter. Press the edges of the dough together, sealing as well as possible.
  2. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill ~30 minutes. Don’t chill too long or your butter will be too firm and crack the dough.
  3. Remove from refrigerator roll dough into a 12-by-18-inch rectangle.
  4. Brush off any excess dough and fold into thirds (creating a 6-by-12-inch letter), turn 1/4 turn so the fold is on your right and roll (again) into a 12-by-18-inch rectangle.
  5. Folds in thirds to create a 6-by-12-inch letter and wrap in plastic wrap. Transfer to cookie sheet and chill 30 minutes → 1 hour.
  6. Repeat rolling-and-folding process two more times for a total of 6 folds – chilling 1 hour between each rotation.

If the dough gets sticky or butter begins to break through the surface, immediately (even if you are in mid-roll) wrap in plastic and chill for one hour. The butter trapped between the dough is what makes puff pastry rise and holes in the dough will deflate all your hard work.

One Turn

One Turn

  1. Divide dough in half with a pastry cutter and wrap each half tightly in plastic – at least two layers. Refrigerate one half for the gateau (up to 2 days), and freeze the other half for next time.

Prepare pâte à choux

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine the 3½ ounces butter and 1 cup water in a small saucepan and set over high heat. Bring to a boil, and immediately add the flour and salt. Beat continuously and vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.
Choux Paste

Choux Paste

  1. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Set mixer to medium low (about 3 on a KitchenAid stand mixer) and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each egg.
  2. Reserve 1 1/2 cups dough in a plastic bag and chill in the refrigerator. You will use this to assemble the cake.
  3. Place remaining mixture in a pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #9824 tip. Pipe 1-inch balls about 1 1/2 inches apart on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Moisten a finger-tip with water and push any peaks down so you have relatively smooth tops. They don’t need to be perfect – but points will overcook.
Cream Puffs

Cream Puffs

  1. Bake cream puffs until dark-golden brown; about 40 → 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until they can be handled.
  2. Using a small paring knife, make a small hole in the bottom of each ball. Place puffs upside down on the cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Prepare crème pâtissière

  1. Combine milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan. Set pan over medium heat, and scald the milk mixture.
  2. Remove from heat, cover, and let milk mixture steep 10 to 12 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour, and continue whisking until smooth.
  4. VERY slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. (If you mix too fast your yolks will cook and create lumps.) Whisk until completely smooth.
  5. Pour milk mixture into a saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a light boil stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Boil for 2 minutes.
  6. Transfer pastry cream to a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use (a day or so won’t hurt).

The following step can be done after a day or so but MUST be completed before you make your caramel. The filled puffs can be refrigerated for up to a day before you make the caramel.

  1. Place half the cream in a pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #6 (small round) round tip. Fit the pastry tip into the hole you poked when the puffs were cooling and pipe a portion of cream into your cream puffs. Set the filled cream puffs aside until you are ready to dip them in caramel.

Prepare caramel

  1. Combine the sugar, 1/4 cup water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Set over high heat, and bring to a boil. Swirl the pan occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking until the syrup is golden-amber. Remove pan from heat.

Immediately

  1. Dip the top of each of the 18 filled cream puffs in the molten caramel. Place the balls, top-sides down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet; the caramel will harden and flatten creating a little crown on top of each puff.
  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a clean work surface. Dip a small amount of molten caramel on the parchment. Using a small offset spatula and starting from the center, draw out the caramel in a quick stroke, creating a fan. Repeat making more fans with the remaining caramel.
  3. Set fans aside to cool and harden.

You’ll see in the photos that we used chocolate instead of caramel. Use whatever you desire and make this your own.

Final Assembly

  1. Heat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.
  2. Roll chilled puff pastry to 1/8-inch thick. (Remember to roll and not pull.) Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes and using a small bowl or cake pan as a guide, cut an 8-inch circle from the center of the dough. Prick the circle all over with a fork or pastry docker to prevent dough from rising. Place on prepared baking sheet and set aside.
  3. Fit a pastry bag with an Ateco #9824 tip (large circle) and fill with remaining choux paste. Pipe a circle of choux paste around the base of the circle to create a wall. Be sure to seal the ends together. This wall will hold your cream in when the gateau is assembled.
Choux Paste Wall

Choux Paste Wall

  1. Place baking sheet in pre-heated oven, prop the door open with the handle of a wooden spoon, and bake for 10 minutes.
  2. Without opening the oven door, turn oven to 400°F and bake 12→15 minutes longer or until choux paste is golden brown.
  3. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla. Starting on low speed to prevent spattering, increase speed to high and beat speed until mixture forms stiff peaks, about 2 to 3 minutes. Chill until ready to use.

If you took a break before Final Assembly, you can bring your caramel slowly back to dipping temperature over low heat stirring often to prevent hot spots.

  1. One at a time, dip uncoated sides of cream puffs in the caramel. Arrange in a circle on top of the pastry wall you formed earlier. Hold for a second and the caramel will cool and adhere the cream puff. Dip one final cream puff in caramel and place on parchment paper to cool. (The remaining cream puffs can be dipped in caramel (or chocolate) and served separately.)
  2. Combine remaining pastry cream and ¼ of the creme chantilly in a bowl stir to mix relatively well but don’t break down your chantilly. Pour cream mixture into the well and smooth with an offset spatula.
  3. Place the remaining creme chantilly in a pastry bag fitted with an Ateco #9824 (large round) tip. Pipe large rosettes on top of the smoothed cream mixture. Garnish with caramel (or chocolate) fans, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

My Schedule for Gateau St. Honoré

Day 1: (~3 hours active, 3 hours waiting)

  • Make Puff Pastry.
  • During 1-hour chilling steps of puff pastry, prepare Pastry Cream. Cool slightly, place in airtight container, cover surface with plastic, seal tightly, and refrigerate.

Day 2: (1 hour active, 2-3 hours waiting)

  • Make Choux Paste & bake pastry puffs.
  • Poke hole in bottoms, allow to cool completely place in paper bag and roll the top tight. Store at room temperature.
  • While Cream Puffs are baking, roll out Puff Pastry, cut into 8″ disk and dock.
  • Pipe Choux Paste wall around Puff Pastry disk and bake when Cream Puffs come out of oven.

Day 3: (3 hours active)

  • Fill Cream Puffs with Pastry Cream. Set aside in cool place but don’t refrigerate.
  • Make Caramel.
  • Coat tops of Cream Puffs and cool.
  • Coat bottoms of Cream Puffs and adhere to Choux Paste wall. (Reserve one Cream Puff for the top decoration)
  • Make Caramel (or chocolate) fans.

Day 4: (~1 hour active)

  • Make Chantilly Cream and mix 1/4 of the Chantilly with the remaining Pastry Cream.
  • Fill Choux Paste wall with Pastry/Chantilly Mixture (don’t go higher than the solid wall).
  • Pipe remaining Chantilly Cream on Gateau.
  • Decorate with Caramel (or chocolate) fans.
  • Refrigerate until ½ hour before serving.
Gateau St. Honore

Gateau St. Honore