Paris Brest

Article

November 30, 2021

Paris-Brest is a traditional pastry of French origin, shaped like a bicycle wheel to pay homage to the Paris-Brest-Paris cycling race. It is composed of a crunchy choux pastry filled with a praline mousseline cream, sprinkled with slivered almonds.

History

This cake in the shape of a bicycle wheel pays homage to the Paris-Brest-Paris cycling race. Its creation is attributed to various pastry chefs residing on the passage of the course, among which: Louis Durand, of Maisons-Laffitte, who would have designed it in 1909,; Monsieur Bauget, also from Maisons-Laffitte, but in 1891; other sources simply cite a pastry chef from the Parisian suburbs who would have created it in 1891; finally, a pastry chef from Chartres by the name of Gerbet. According to some sources, Durand would have created it in 1909 in the form of a lightning bolt, and it was another pastry chef from the western suburbs of Paris who gave it its circular shape in the 1940s. According to other sources, it is Durand who would have given it its shape of bicycle wheel, based on a pastry created previously: a pastry in the shape of a laurel wreath (in reference to the one awarded to the winner of the race) created by a pastry chef de Brest, or an oblong pastry. The same recipe appears under the name paris-nice in 1910 in the Traite de pâtisserie moderne by Émile Darenne and Émile Duval. In 1930, Paul Durand, son of Louis, tried to file a patent on his father's creation, but the distribution of the pastry was already so wide that his request was rejected. In 2012, a TNS-Sofres survey ranked it 15th among the favorite desserts of the French.

Presentation

Paris-Brest is usually sold in the form of a wreath, either as an individual cake of around ten centimeters in diameter, or as a family cake that can reach 20 centimeters in diameter. Some pastry chefs only offer it in family format. It is also found in the form of lightning.

Variants in the preparation

The realization of this dessert uses a choux pastry cooked with flaked almonds sprinkled on the surface, into which is introduced, after cooking the dough, a twist of pastry cream or praline. The variants usually encountered relate to the nature of the cream used. Each pastry chef now uses creams that are more different than each other. The most conventionally used cream is mousseline cream (pastry cream that is emulsified by adding softened butter or buttercream). Others use buttercream for preservation reasons, possibly adding milk foam to lighten it, or even a chiboust cream. The cookery books also cite a cream called simply crème à paris-brest, which is generally a praline-flavored mousseline cream flavored with rum. Other pastry chefs propose to revisit it by giving it a crispy version, with caramel as a nod to Brittany, frozen, or by changing its shape (tart, madeleine, donut, cupcake). Still others change its name to Paris-New York after adding pecans. There are also local variations such as paris-courchevel in Courchevel, paris-metz in Metz (on the occasion of the LGV Est), or even marseille-brest in Marseille but also paris-saïgon, in Vietnam at the chocolate maker Marou.

Notes and references

See also

Bibliography

National Council of Culinary Arts, “Paris-Brest”, in Île-de-France: Local products and traditional recipes, Paris, Albin Michel, coll. "The inventory of the culinary heritage of France", 1993, 334 p. (ISBN 2-226-06348-X), p. 79–81. Portal of French cuisine Portal of dessert Alime

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