fruit mince paris-brest - xmas week 2019

Welcome to day 5 of Xmas Week 2019. Today I have another show stopper for the Christmas table, this time a fruit mince Paris-Brest. Paris-Brest's have flooded instagram this year and I thought I'd join the party. The Paris Brest was first made in 1910 to celebrate the inaugural Paris to Brest cycle race and the shape of the pastry represents the wheel of a bike. It's a classic made from choux pastry filled with praline flavoured crème pâtissière and topped with nuts. 

I just happened to have a jar of Flour and Stone rhubarb and apple fruit mince in my fridge and wondered if I could use it to flavour my Paris-Brest filling instead of using praline. You could use a cup of your own favourite home made fruit mince but I wouldn't try this recipe with shop bought fruit mince. If you don't like fruit mince you could use some fresh berries or a cup of your favourite stewed fruit. 

I'm not going to lie, the recipe and the list of ingredients looks a little daunting but if you take things step by step, you'll be okay. Much of the Paris-Brest can be made in advance, including the choux rings. The fruit mince can be made up to 3 weeks ahead, whilst the crème pâtissière can be made the day before serving leaving the choux the only component that needs to be made just before baking. Once baked you can store it a day or two in an airtight container then refresh it before serving by placing the 2 halves on oven trays and reheating them for 10 - 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 180°C. Once cool, you can assemble the Paris-Brest just before serving. It can hold for a few hours but it's best served on the day.

Here's the recipe for you which makes one Paris-Brest. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Fruit Mince Paris Brest adapted from an Anneke Manning recipe
1 quantity basic choux pastry
25 g (¼ cup) flaked almonds
icing sugar, to dust
1 cup fruit mince

Flour and stone rhubarb and apple fruit mince 
5 rhubarb stalks, leaves removed
3 granny smith apples
50g raisins
50g currants
50g finely chopped mixed peel
50g sultanas
50g cranberries
1 knob stem ginger finely diced
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground cloves
⅛ tsp ground allspice
100g brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Crème pâtissière
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 tbs plain flour
125 ml (½ cup) thickened cream, whipped to firm peaks

Choux pastry
150 g (1 cup) plain flour
185 ml (¾ cup) water
½ tsp salt
75 g butter, diced
3 eggs, plus 1 extra egg

Fruit mince
Slice the rhubarb stalks in half lengthways, then cut into 2cm lengths. Wash the rhubarb well and set to one side. Peel and core the apples, then coarsely chop in the bowl of a food processor or cut into 1cm dice. Set next to the rhubarb. In a separate bowl combine the dried fruit, ginger and spices.

To cook the fruit mince, choose a saucepan with a large base like you would use for making jam – this will ensure the rhubarb cooks quickly and retains its bright pink colour. Briefly heat the saucepan over medium heat before tossing in the rhubarb, then add the brown sugar and vanilla and stir quickly to combine the fruit with the sugar. Continue to cook the rhubarb over medium heat for 5 minutes or until it starts to soften then add the apple to the pan. The juices will release from the apple and the mixture will become more liquid so just keep stirring occasionally so the mixture doesn’t catch and burn. Cook the apple for 5 minutes then add the dried fruit mixture and cook for a further 15 minutes until the fruit is plump and the rhubarb and apple have formed a lovely jammy texture. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the fruit mince to cool in the pan, then store in the fridge until you’re ready to make the paris brest. The mince will keep for 3 weeks refrigerated. If you want to keep it for longer you can always sterilise jars and fill them with the fruit mince to preserve it. You’ll about 1 cup of the fruit mince for this recipe.

Crème Patissiere
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 or until thick. Remove from the heat and transfer 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. Test for sweetness and adjust if necessary. Cover and return to the fridge to chill.

Choux Pastry
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.

Sift the flour onto a sheet of baking paper. Combine the water, salt and butter in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until just boiling. Remove immediately from the heat, add all the flour at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to combine.

Return the saucepan to the heat and beat vigorously over a low heat for 30 seconds or until the mixture is smooth and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a flour film forms on the bottom of the pan. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside for 3-5 minutes or until cooled slightly.

Use a fork to whisk together the 3 eggs. Add about one-quarter of the whisked eggs to the flour mixture at a time beating well with the wooden spoon until well combined and smooth after each addition. Use a fork to lightly whisk the extra egg and gradually add to the flour mixture a teaspoon at a time and beating well after each addition until the mixture is thick, shiny and falls heavily from the spoon. You may not need to use all of the last egg. Don’t discard it as you can use this to glaze the choux ring.

Piping the choux pastry
Spoon the warm choux pastry into a large piping bag fitted with a 1.5 cm nozzle. Sprinkle a little water on the lined baking tray. Pipe the choux pastry on the tray using the circle as a guide. Use a wet fingertip to gently seal the two ends. Pipe a second circle on the inside of the first so they are just touching but not overlapping, and sealing the ends as before. Lastly pipe a third circle where the first two join and on top of them, sealing the ends. Use wet fingers to gently smooth the joins of the three rings together. Brush any remaining egg over the choux bun. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top of the choux then just before baking sprinkle the icing sugar over the almonds.

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).

To serve
Place the bottom half of the choux ring on a serving plate. Spoon the fruit mince into the hollow of the choux ring then decoratively pipe the crème pâtissière over the fruit mince, before covering with the top of the choux ring. I had some leftover toasted almond flakes so I sprinkled them over the crème pâtissière filling. Liberally dust the top of the Paris-Brest with icing sugar and serve.

That was going to be my last post for Christmas week but I went a bit overboard and have another dessert to share with you on Monday.

So until then,

bye for now,



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