Thursday, March 24, 2011

Saint Honoré cake

St. Honoré Cake is named for the French patron saint of bakers and pastry chefs, Saint Honoré or Honoratus (d. 600 AD), bishop of Amiens.
It is said that it was created in 1846 by a Parisian pastry chef named Chiboust, who created this cake in his Parisian patisserie, located on Rue Saint Honoré.
 Originally, the cake consists of a base of biscuit paste, garnished, in its outer part, by a series of èclairs, attached to the base of the cake with caramel or whipped cream. The central part of the cake is decorated with a custard cream thickened by the addition of beated egg whites, the so-called chiboust cream precisely. Nowdays, in Italy, there are various types of cakes, even an ice cream version, which looks similar to Saint Honoré. These cakes are wrongly defined Saint Honoré. This probably happens due to its decorative appearance, which is suitable for any type of celebration. What I propose today is an example of it and is made with sponge cake and cream.


For the éclair (as an alternative you can buy ready-made éclairs)
Water 250 ml (8 and 1/2 fluid ounces)
Butter 60 g (1/4 cup) or Lard 50 gr (3 tbsp)
Flour 125 g (4.4 oz)
Eggs 3
a pinch of salt
a small glass of Strega liqueur to taste

For the sponge cake
Flour 170 g (1 and 1/2 cup)
Sugar 160 g (3/4 cup and 1 tbsp)
4 eggs 
1 Vanillin sachet
1 Lemon peel 
A teaspoon of baking powder

To sprinkle the sponge cake 
Water 300 ml (10 fl oz)
Sugar 130 g (2/3 cup)
1 liqueur glass of Strega liqueur (or other preferred liqueur such as Cointreau, limoncello etc.)
1 Lemon peel 

For the custard
Milk 1 lt (4 and 1/4 cups)
Egg yolks 4
Sugar 400 g (2 cups)
Flour 140 g (1 and 1/4 cup)
Lemon or orange peel 1
Whipping cream 500 ml (2 and 1/8 cup)
Unsweetened cocoa powder 2 tablespoons
Prepare the éclairs: bring water with a pinch of salt and the butter to the boil, the butter should be completely melted before the water reaches the boil. As soon as it comes to the boil,lower the heat and add all at once the flour stirring vigorously, you will get a thick and sticky mixture, keep stirring until it sizzle and comes off from the sides of the stewpan. Lay out the mixture on a plate or a marble table and leave it to cool, then mix the eggs one at a time and in the end add the liqueur. Pour the mixture into a pastry bag with star shaped nozzle, and make the so-called tufts. Pay attention to the cooking, it will determine the success of choux: Bake in preheated oven at 190 degrees Celsius (375° Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes. To be sure of the perfect cooking, open a choux, only if the inside is empty and dry the cooking is completed. Leave them to cool before filling.
Prepare the sponge cake: Beat the eggs with the sugar, add the grated lemon rind, the vanillin and gradually the sifted flour, at last add the baking powder. Pour the mixture into a 26 cm (10-inch) in diameter pie dish greased with butter and floured, bake it in preheated oven at 170° C (335° F) for about 30 minutes. Once cooked, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool (picture 1).
Prepare the custard cream: mix the sugar with the flour, whisk the egg yolk and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, add spoonfuls of sugar and flour mixture, if it becomes too stiff, add a dash of warm milk before continuing.
 When you have worked in all the sugar and flour mixture, add the remaining milk, add the lemon peel and bring it to the boil over medium heat constantly stirring with a wooden spoon, make it simmer for a few minutes then turn off the heat and remove the lemon peel otherwise the cream will have a bitter taste. Let it cool down stirring from time to time to avoid the forming of a crust on the surface.
Whip the whipping cream untill stiff, keep 5 tablespoons aside to decorate and put them in the fridge, and stirring from the bottom to the top with a wooden spoon, mix the remaining whipped cream in the custard cream.
Prepare the liqueur syrup: Put the water, the sugar and the lemon rind in a small saucepan and put in on the burner, stir and bring it to the boil, remove from heat and add the chosen liqueur. Leave it to cool.
Assemble the cake: Fill the èclairs with the aid of a pastry bag with thin and round shaped nozzle. Cut the sponge cake into 2 discs. Place one disk on a cake tin and sprinkle it with the previously prepared liqueur syrup, then spread with part of the cream and even it out with a palette knife. Put the other cake disk on top, sprinkle it with the syrup and spread the cake with the remaining cream, keep 10-12 tablespoons aside to garnish. Sprinkle the edge of the cake with chopped hazelnuts (or with crumbled Pavesini biscuits) by using a palette knife or with the hand. On top of the cake, form a crown with the èclairs leaving a small space between them. Take the four tablespoons of whipped cream from the fridge and, with the aid of a pastry bag with star shaped nozzle, make cream tufts in the spaces between the èclairs. Put 5-6 tablespoons of cream in a mixing bowl and mix in 2 tablespoons of sifted cocoa powder. Still using a pastry bag with star shaped nozzle, decorate the cake alternating chocolate cream tufts and cream tufts (as shown in picture 2). Put the cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Bon appetit!

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