Choux Pastry Gateau
Have fun giving your creation a name and please describe your recipe.
Grape Gateau St. Honore (a blast from the past to honor my parents): I used an historic 1884 recipe called “Gateau St. Honore” from Mrs. D.A. Lincoln’s cooking school Boston Cook Book. Although the recipe calls for a puff paste base, it also says “Sponge cake or feather cake is more delicate than puff paste as a foundation for the gateau.” That is what I did. Grapes were my theme ingredient using store bought Concord table grapes, and wild grapes that were picked the morning of the bake. Because both grape types are seedy, I chose to extract their juices and blend them for a jelly using sugar and unflavored gelatin to thicken (more was needed). The choux pastry was called “Cream Cake” paste in this recipe. The recipe called for any kind of Bavarian Cream. I flavored mine with vanilla to allow the grape flavor not to be overpowered.
Tell us about your creation's final texture after baking. Are you happy with it?
The sponge cake was a little chewy, perhaps due to my halving the recipe and using one egg instead of the three eggs called for in the full recipe. The choux turned out flakey, with ample openings to pipe in the Bavarian cream, which was smooth and creamy. The homemade grape jelly was too soft and drippy, more syrupy than the sturdier jelled layer I was hoping to achieve. The recipe called for jam or marmalade to be spread between the foundation layer and the choux. The taste of the grapes proved to be a blast from the past for me because these table grapes, being Concord grapes (the kind Welch’s Grape Juice is made from), are the same variety my father planted years ago to grow along the cedar fencing he put up to surround his compost area in my childhood backyard. How I enjoyed finding them hiding behind the large grape leaves and tasting the sourness of the skin that quickly slipped away to find the squishy sweet interior surrounding two or three seeds that were then fun to spit out into the surrounding lawn. And the wild grapes' taste reminds me of my mother making jelly of that sour juice. No matter the amount of sugar, it always had that wild, untameable sourness coming through. I mixed the two juices – 1 cup of the sweet to ¼ cup of the sour. The wild grapes added a deeper red-purple color to the mix.
Detail how you added a Wisconsin twist to your flavors or presentation.
September is when Wisconsin’s native variety of wild grape vines are loaded with bunches of fruit that are starting to ripen. The ones I picked were not fully ripened. Although not highly prized for their taste, they are edible and were probably used to a greater extent in earlier times of our state. The Concord table grapes aren’t always available in the produce sections of stores, so to find them there this time of year is a rare treat. A Wisconsin childhood memory for me is to see cream puffs on the table for dessert on the occasion of my parents' wedding anniversary, something my mother did every year only on that day. Making them for this gateau was a first for me, inspired by this Wisconsin "cooking school" of challenges. I have learned so much this summer!
How did you do?