Created during the late 1800s to celebrate the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race, the ring shape of this choux pastry cake clearly symbolises a wheel. Classic, rich and generous, it is certainly a dessert to make for a crowd.
- 1 quantity basic choux pastry
- 125 ml (½ cup) thickened cream, whipped to firm peaks
- 180 g good-quality dark chocolate, melted
- 25 g (¼ cup) flaked almonds, toasted
- icing sugar, to dust
- 125 ml (½ cup) milk
- 125 ml (½ cup) pouring cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways and seeds scraped
- 3 egg yolks
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- melted butter, to grease
- 55 g (½ cup) flaked almonds
- 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
- 60 ml (¼ cup) water
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 1 hour
Cooling time 30 minutes
Allow an extra 20 minutes for making the basic choux pastry.
To make the crème pâtissière
Put the milk, cream and vanilla seeds and bean into a medium saucepan. Bring just to a simmer over a medium heat. Remove from heat and remove the vanilla bean. Use a balloon whisk to whisk the egg yolks, sugar and flour together in a heatproof bowl until well combined. Gradually whisk in the milk mixture until smooth and well combined. Return to the heat and stir constantly with the whisk over medium heat until the mixture comes to a simmer. Simmer, stirring constantly with the whisk, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and pass the crème pâtissière through a sieve into a heatproof bowl. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or until well chilled.
Fold the whipped cream through the crème pâtissière. Cover and return to the fridge to chill.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Draw a circle on a piece of baking paper using an 18 cm cake tin as a guide. Turn the paper marked side down and use to line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper.
Piping the choux pastry
Spoon the warm choux pastry into a large piping bag fitted with a 1.7 cm nozzle. Sprinkle a little water on the lined baking tray. Pipe the choux pastry on the tray using the circle as a guide (image 1). Use a wet fingertip to gently seal the two ends (image 2). Pipe a second circle on the inside of the first so they are just touching but not overlapping (image 3), and sealing the ends as before. Lastly pipe a third circle where the first two join and on top of them (image 4), sealing the ends. Use wet fingers to gently smooth the joins of the, three rings together (image 5).
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C and bake for a further 20-30 minutes or until golden, puffed and crisp. Split choux pastry ring in half horizontally with a sharp serrated knife and place the two halves separately back on the tray and return to oven for 10 minutes or until dry. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (this will take about 30 minutes).
Meanwhile, to make the almond praline
Brush an oven tray with melted butter to grease and then spread the flaked almonds over the tray. Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and boil gently, occasionally brushing down the side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to remove any sugar crystals that have formed, for 5-10 minutes or until the syrup becomes a deep golden. Remove from the heat immediately and pour over the almonds on the tray. Set aside to cool completely. When cool, break into small pieces and pound in a mortar and pestle or grind in a food processor using the pulse button until coarsely ground.
To serve, fold the praline through the chilled crème patissiere. Place the bottom half of the choux ring on a serving plate. Spoon the crème patissiere into the hollow of the choux ring and then cover with the top of the choux ring. Drizzle with the chocolate and then sprinkle with the almonds. Dust with icing sugar and serve.
• The baked choux ring can be made up to 3 days ahead of serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Refresh by placing on an oven tray and reheating in an oven preheated to 180°C for 10-15 minutes. Cool, assemble and serve.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Kerry Ray.
For more recipes, view our online column, Bakeproof: Choux pastry.