I'm being a bit presumptuous here, but then after this challenge, I think I earned it!
As our Daring Baker's group grew larger and larger, and voting became more and more difficult, our lovely founders Lis and Ivonne came up with a plan! Each of us would be assigned a month, based on the order of our joining the group, and for that month, we would be responsible for picking the recipe and setting the rules. With so many of us now, that was totally reasonable, even though some people are so far down on the list right now that they don't get to pick until 2009 or later!
My month was supposed to be July, but we are also a flexible group and I had the option of trading with someone as I will be away for a good chunk of July. Instead I get to pick next month's theme!
Quite awhile ago I had decided that for my June choice I was going to do cream puffs! I'd never made choux paste before and thought the lightness of the recipe would be a good idea. So did Helen, this month's recipe choser, and Anita, her partner in crime! (We can also team up if we want to.)
See? Great minds think alike!
I admit I'd also been considering something with puff pastry, which I can also no longer do, as this months challenge, Gateau Sainte Honore requires puff pastry as well as cream puffs! And an amazingly good pastry cream! Plus caramel! Can you say CALORIES?
Helen and Anita were kind in the rules this month: you did not have to make the puff pastry, you could use store bought. Since I happened to have a package of puff pastry in the freezer when the recipe was posted, I was able to immediately try it. I also decided I wanted to do a comparison between store bought puff pastry and home made (which I also wanted to try my hand at making.)
Just like I did with croissants, my first step (actually second, my first step being to take the pastry out of the freezer,) was to post up the recipe and mark it by steps. I did this with the crepe cake recipe as well and will likely do so for follow-up challenge recipes. Sure, my friends and family get a sneak peek at what we are making, but they all know that if they tell, they won't get to eat!
I did plan on making the puff pastry myself, and trying the recipe with both home made and store bought puff pastry. And I have made the puff pastry (which involved me pounding on sticks of butter with my rolling pin, BAM BAM BAM!) I just haven't at this point tried the recipe with it (as of Saturday at 6:30pm, which doesn't mean that by the time I hit publish tomorrow I won't have done so.)
Cream puff dough, also called choux pastry, is actually fairly simple to make once you realize you can use a mixer or food processor to mix in the eggs, rather than by hand. Sure, it isn't the traditional way but then I'm okay with that! Aren't my little cream puffs cute?
And the base of the gateaux, puff pastry on the bottom, choux paste pipped in circles on top, looks pretty neat too. Though I admit after eating it I wasn't sure what purpose the puff pastry served, other than to act as a stable base. I didn't find it contributed anything to the flavor.
The other rule set by Helen and Anita for this months challenge involved the size of the cakes we made, and the flavoring of the pastry cream. The recipe called for rum. And while we don't drink and there usually isn't much of any alcohol in my house, I admit, I do have rum. A full bottle of it from the Dominican Republic. Never opened. And still not opened. I used clear vanilla (since we could not add anything that would change the color of the cream.)
OMG I could have eaten that cream for breakfast! And I've since learned it makes an amazing ice cream! (I so can't wait to try that and may end up making my second attempt at the challenge tonight, very last minute, just so I can have some cream to put in the ice cream maker!)
Size wise I went two ways - about a 4 inch circle, making 3 little guys with teeny little cream puffs, and an 8 inch with slightly bigger cream puffs. My children each shared a little one (and informed me they did not like cream puffs or puff pastry, something they have both reminded me of several times since - though my youngest child has told me that when he is a grown up, he will make his own puff pastry too!)
I admit the funnest part of this challenge, aside from eating this very tasty dessert, was playing with the caramel! I wonder if the local college offers short classes on sugar and it's manipulation? Cause I have so much fun trying to make sugar hair (not much luck this time) and pulling the fast cooling sugar into cool shapes! I heated and reheated that pan so many times, the next time I think I will use the Alton Brown trick of putting the pot on a heating pad set to low!
Despite my ideas for the June challenge being pre-empted by Helen and Anita, I enjoyed this challenge! I got to make a bunch of new things I had never made before (and that list is getting shorter every month!) And I enjoyed eating them too! Especially the left over cream, which I took to work in a thermos to eat like pudding! Mmmmm.....
Thanks for choosing this recipe ladies! (And don't forget to check out all the other Daring Baker's efforts - see their links on the sidebar!)
Oh and btw, if you want the recipe for this, Helen (Tartlette) and Anita (Dessert First) should be posting it, so you have another reason to check out their sites!
Sunday morning, 8:30 am. I have made a second batch using the homemade puff pastry but have not yet completed assembling them. Long, thin ones, rather than round, were better in theory, however, than reality. My puff pastry puffed, though! My cream puffs, however, look like decapitated snowmen. No idea why, they just baked that way. Oh well, it will be an original gateaux!
I'm off for now to take my kids by bus to downtown Ottawa where they hope to get a few glimpses of their father as he runs past them. Marathoners! (I am either stupid or brave, not sure which one right now!)
I am going to publish now but will add another extra later to say how the homemade puff pastry compares.
******* THE LONG AWAITED EXTRA NOTE!*******
Homemade puff pastry seems to be much sweeter than the store bought stuff. This time it actually contributed to the flavor (though I admit I skipped the caramel for this second batch and used a shaving of white chocolate to decorate instead.) Need to try out the puff on a few different things before I decide if I want to do it again, but for now I am happy with how it came out.