A Lemon-Strawberry Éclair to Share

May 20, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

This dessert is based on the showstopping French pastry, the Paris-Brest. It’s named after a cycling race that ran between Paris and Brest in France that predated the Tour de France, a nod to its ring shape. This festive dessert is pretty easy to make once you get the hang of a few classic techniques: A ring of fluffy choux pastry is split and stuffed with lightened pastry cream and fresh strawberries. I found my freeze-dried strawberries at Trader Joe’s. To make a grain-free variation of the puff pastry, I used Otto’s Naturals brand of cassava flour. —Caroline Wright

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: The Great Majesty of the Paris-Brest, an Éclair to Share. —The Editors

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 8 to 10
  • Honey-lemon pastry cream
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot
  • Pastry
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold and cut into tablespoon pieces
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour mix, especially Otto’s Naturals
  • 3 to 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, beaten until soft peaks form
  • 1 cup quartered strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup freeze-dried strawberries, finely crushed
  • Honey, for drizzling
In This Recipe
  1. Honey-lemon pastry cream
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, honey and lemon zest; bring the milk just to a boil. Stir to blend ingredients, then cover pan and set aside to cool slightly and allow the lemon to infuse into the milk, 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks and arrowroot in a medium bowl set on a damp cloth. Place a strainer over a large liquid measuring cup. Pour infused milk through strainer (discard solids). Whisking constantly, pour strained warm milk into the beaten egg yolk mixture until fully combined.
  4. Scrape custard base back into the reserved saucepan. Cook custard over medium-low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, until it thickens to a pudding (about 10 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl and directly cover exposed surface of custard mixture with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready for assembly (custard will further thicken as it cools). Rinse and dry saucepan.
  1. Pastry
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Use a pencil to trace around the rim of an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan onto a piece of parchment. Flip the parchment over, so the pencil side is underneath.
  3. Beat together 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl; set aside. In reserved saucepan, combine water, cold butter, maple syrup, and salt. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat; remove from heat. Off heat, add flour mixture to hot water mixture in one addition; beat furiously until a thin coating of flour is on the bottom of the pan and the sticky dough becomes smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, ensuring the dough is fully incorporated between additions. (After adding an egg, the dough will become slimy and seem like it will never come back together. It does, you just have to keep beating it—a hand-held electric mixer works well here to save your strength.) Once all eggs are added, the dough will be shiny and fall from the spoon.
  4. Transfer dough to a pastry bag fitted with a large (1/2- to 1-inch) star tip. Pipe dough onto parchment over the traced pencil line, overlapping circles on top of one another.
  5. Gently brush top of pastry with reserved egg wash. Transfer baking sheet to the oven and bake until the ring is puffed, dry to the touch and evenly golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate pan and reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Bake until pastry is an even, deep golden color and firm to the touch, about 25 minutes more. Remove from oven and immediately pierce the top of the pastry with a skewer or sharp knife in about 8 to 10 places to release steam. Return to oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes more. Transfer pastry ring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Whisk refrigerated custard to loosen slightly, then fold in whipped cream. Carefully halve pastry horizontally with a serrated knife; place pastry on work surface top-side down. Spoon and spread pastry cream into bottom half of pastry; scatter with strawberries and drizzle with honey, if desired. Replace top half of pastry, sandwiching the cream and berries. Place freeze-dried strawberry powder in a mesh sieve and dust top of dessert with a fine layer. Return assembled dessert to the refrigerator, for up to 2 hours, until ready to serve.

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Before her diagnosis, Caroline wrote a book on cakes called Cake Magic!. She started developing a birthday cake using her gluten-free mix found in that book. Check out other recipes she’s developing for her new life—and the stories behind them—on her blog, The Wright Recipes. Her next book, Soup Club, is a collection of recipes she made for her underground soup club of vegan and grain-free soups she delivers every week to friends throughout Seattle's rainy winter. (Available February 2021.)