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Recipes Revealed: Duchess Bakeshop

A peak inside Duchess Bakeshop's colourful pastry window. (Photos: Tina Faiz)

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If you are standing in line to order, would you be embarrassed to say "I'd like a Paris Brest, please?" That's the current theory amongst the staff at Duchess Bakeshop on why no one orders it. "It's the staff favourite, but almost no one order it" says Giselle Courteau, Duchess co-owner. Despite my countless visits to Duchess, I, too, had never ordered it, but only because it looked like a donut. I was very wrong.

Courteau and her executive pastry chef, Jacob Pelletier, have perfected what GQ named the best dessert of 2010. This delicate ring-shaped pastry is stuffed with heavenly praline mousseline (hazelnut mousse) and to-die-for caramelized hazelnuts (all recipes below). If you love cream puffs, this pastry will make you weep. Go try one now, and don't be embarrassed to say Brest.

Duchess Bakeshop
10720-124 Street
Open Tuesday - Friday 9:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., Saturday10:00AM - 6:00PM, Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m, closed Monday

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P.S. For those wondering, Duchess will expand into the space next door early November. Expect soups, quiches, more pastries and baguette! "When I opened the shop, I made a list of all my dream items," Courteau says, "and I haven't even done 1/8th of them." At the top of that list: St. Honoré Cake.

Recipes Revealed: Duchess Bakeshop's Paris Brest

The Paris Brest was created in the late 1800s to commemorate a bicycle race between Paris and the city of Brest, hence the name and the wheel shape. (Photo: Tina Faiz)

1 batch Pate a Choux baked into ring shapes, like a bagel (recipe below)
1 batch Praline Mousseline buttercream filling (recipe below)

With a serrated bread knife, gently slice the baked choux ring in half horizontally, just like slicing a bagel.

Dust the top half with icing sugar and set aside.

Pipe on the praline mousseline onto the bottom half of the pastry shell. Use a large open-star tip, pipe on a loop and turn, as if writing a cursive, lower-case letter l.

Insert six caramelized hazelnuts around the outside of the piped mousseline.

Cap the pastry with the top half of the shell.

Plate and serve immediately. Can be assembled ahead of time and refrigerated for up to six hours. Bring back to room temperature before serving.

Pate a Choux (pastry shell)

Duchess co-owner Giselle Courteau carefully candies hazelnuts in a copper bowl--it's easy to clean with no corners of a pot and conducts heat the best, she says. (Photos: Tina Faiz)

187 g Skim Milk
187 g Water
173 g Unsalted Butter
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Sugar
210 g Flour
6 Eggs

Combine flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Put milk, water and butter in a pot and bring to a simmer. Bring heat to low, and quickly pour the flour mixture into the pot and begin to stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. Stir choux continuously until the mixture forms a mass and pulls away from the side of the pan, about 3-4 minutes.

Transfer the choux into a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment. On low to medium speed, mix in the eggs one at time, waiting until each egg is incorporated before adding the next.

Using an open star tip, pipe the paste into a crown shape. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Bake choux paste at 365 for 20 minutes. Prop oven door open with a wooden spoon and bake another 6 minutes or until crispy to the touch.

Note: Once baked, the Choux pastries can be frozen and re-crisped in the oven at 365 for a few minutes until warmed through.

Praline Mousseline


400 g Buttercream (recipe below)
250 g Praline Paste*
225 g Pastry Cream

Whip up buttercream until it's soft and shiny.

Gradually fold in the praline paste and pastry cream. Continue to whip until well combined and shiny.

*Praline paste can be bought in specialty food stores. Nutella could be used as an alternative.

Buttercream (Crème au beurre)

120g Milk
93g Yolks
120g Sugar
500g Butter, cubed


Scald the milk in a pot. Whisk together yolks and sugar in a bowl. Temper your yolk mixture by slowly pouring the hot milk while continuously whisking.

Put the milk/ yolk mixture into a pot and over low heat. Whisk continuously until it reaches 82 degrees Celsius. Strain mixture into a mixing bowl. Using a whisk attachment on low speed, slowly add cold butter. Whip buttercream until it's fluffy and shiny.

Candied Hazelnuts

300 g Hazelnuts, roasted and skin rubbed off
100 g Sugar
30 g Water
15 g Butter

Cook sugar and water to 117C in large copper bowl, if you have one. If not, use a heavy-bottom pot.

Add peeled hazelnuts. Stir until sugar has crystallized on the outside of the nuts.

Remove from heat and sift off excess sugar. Return to pot and over low to medium heat and stir continuously until caramelized. Nuts should be shiny and dark caramel colour.

Remove from heat. Add butter and quickly pour nuts onto a cookie sheet. Separate nuts with a wooden spoon to prevent them from sticking together.

Have you tried the Paris Brest at Duchess Bakeshop? Or tried making this recipe at home?

Web extra recipe: Duchess Madeleine cookies


150 g Unsalted butter, room temperature *
150 g Sugar
4 Eggs, room temperature*
150 g Flour
½ tsp Baking Powder

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix the flour and the baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.

Whip the butter and the sugar in a mixer using a paddle attachment. The butter and sugar should be very fluffy and almost white.

Add the eggs all at once and continue to whip on medium speed until they are well incorporated. It may be necessary to stop the mixer several times to scrape down the sides. It's normal for it to look slightly chunky.

Add the flour and the baking powder to the butter mixture. If you are adding any extra flavours (options listed below), do so now. Whip on medium speed for about 10 seconds until the dry ingredients are well incorporated and dough looks fluffy and light.

Lightly flour and butter a Madeleine pan. Using a small spoon or scoop, fill each mould about ¾ full. Bake for approximately 12 minutes at 375F.

Madeleine dough keeps in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Flavour options:

Lemon Madeleines:
Zest of 1 lemon. Glaze baked madeleines with a mixture of lemon juice and icing sugar.

Lavender Madeleines:
½ Tbsp dried lavenderVanilla

Rose Madeleines:
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean pod, 1 tsp rose water

*It's very important that your butter and eggs be at room temperature. If they aren't, you won't be able to get fluffy Madeleine dough.

It's also important to weigh all your ingredients for the best results.