Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Oh Saint Honore!

 Hello friends! I was assigned a quick research paper on Saint Honore, and I thought it would fit in nicely here. Enjoy!

When word of Honore’s new standing in the church found its way to his childhood housemaid, she indignantly scoffed that she would believe such a boy would be made a Bishop when her peel, used to lay breads on the hearth of the oven, took root. And tossing her wooden peel onto the ground, one can’t help but be amused by imagining her consternation when the tool landed in the soft earth, and as though by a charlatan's magic, did indeed cast roots into the soil. From the rivets of the wood unfolded the branches of a small plant, and over time it let it be known just what type of flora it was. In the space shortly occupied by a peculiarly placed bakers’ peel stood a proud, fruit bearing blackberry bush.
    This legend was well known and loved by Parisians from nearly 600AD onward, and until the 16th century, people flocked to the bush which legend says sprouted from a bakers’ peel. This was, of course, before Honore was known as Saint Honore, and also long before roads, patisseries, holidays and pastries bore his name. While Saint Honore was acting as Bishop of Amiens a number of natural disasters were said to have been averted, and surrounding townspeople in professions of milling, farming and baking prospered. It is for these reasons that he is known as the Patron Saint of bakers. And also the reason that his name holds the honor of referring to the hybrid of all that is tasty. To do the Patron Saint of bakers justice, one must be able to combine puff pastry, pate a choux, chiboust cream, caramel, and whipped cream. However, myriad variations of a Saint-Honore exist, ranging from the version created by Elizabeth Falkner, who writes for Epicurious, which combines milk chocolate diplomat cream, pastry cream, and a salted mouse for her Gateau Saint-Honore, whereas a strawberry almond variation can be found at a food blog entitled notquitenigella.
            Chiboust, a patissier in France who was conveniently located on a road bearing Saint Honore’s name, is credited with being not only the mastermind behind the cake, but also of Chiboust cream that he used to fill it. In 1846, when it was first concocted, a Gateau Saint-Honore began with a base of brioche dough that would be docked and weighed down, on top of which a ring of pate a choux would be piped and together the two would be baked. The center was filled with a mixture of gelatin stabilized cream and an Italian meringue, and attached to the base would be an alternating ring of jam glazed profiteroles and pieces of fruit. While the recipe has evolved, the concept of this labor of love remains the same; and it is widely adored as a work of culinary skill and abundant creativity. The patron saint of bakers is so beloved that even a bakery with two locations in Oregon borrowed his name, and holds an annual celebration on his saint day, May 16. Beside their wood burning oven stands a carving of a man in a shroud and cap holding a bakers peel, who legend says, will bring good fortune to bakers and protect those who are vital to the profession.

Love and pate a choux,

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