Paris Brest, a bicycle tire-shaped confection, was created by a French baker to commemorate the audacious riders who took part in the Paris Brest Paris Randonniers. The grueling bicycle event, which dated back in 1891, required the riders to complete a 1200 km (750 miles) ride from Paris to Brest, and returning to Paris within 90 hours. A daring feat that was unheard of at that time.
Perhaps that could explain the baker's inspiration of filling the tire-shaped choux pastry with huge amount of calorific praline pastry cream. Someone who have completed the arduous ride has no doubt burned enough calories to justify a generous serving of Paris Brest. Traditionally, a thick layer of pastry cream is piped into the center of choux pastry "tire", and more cream is used to decorate the surrounding of choux pastry ring.
I, who have no plan in participating any bicyle race in a foreseeable future, like the updated version that chef taught us in school. The reason is simple. Another smaller choux pastry ring is inserted in the center of the big choux pastry ring. As a result, less pastry cream is required, which tastes just as palatable.
On the night when I brought the Paris Brest home, I was confronted with a severe thunderstorm. It was definitely the most arduous 10 minutes walk in my life. The act of balancing a Paris Brest on top of a St Honore in one hand, while holding a flimsy foldable umbrealla in another was trying. My shoes and socks were soaking wet by the time I got home. So was my backpack, jacket and the jeans. I felt like I had waded a stream to get home. I couldn't imagine the rough weather conditions the cyclists have to endure in their 90 hours of constant pedalling. I would have abandoned the pastries if the walk was more than 10 minutes.
Perhaps the thought have offended the pastry god. Just when I was about to reach my block, the paris brest fell face down onto the ground! Thanks to the multiple layers of saran-wrap, the Paris Brest was only half - disfigured, as you can see in the picture above. It was still delicious, and remains as one of my favorite things to make and eat. :)