This recipe for Marc Heu’s elaborate, showstopping Vanilla Saint Honoré centerpiece is a masterclass in baking, assembly, and piping that’s complicated enough to make even Paul Hollywood break into a sweat. From an inverted puff pastry to a pate a choux cream puff with a perfect caramel glaze, this recipe is a crucible for intrepid bakers where pastry greatness will be forged.
The Saint Honoré cake recipe dates back to the 19th century and commemorates the patron saint of bakers, confectioners, and pastry chefs, St. Honoratus of Amiens. In honor of National Pastry Day, we present Marc Heu’s Vanilla Saint Honoré recipe.
Be sure to read our Minnesota Spoon profile on Marc Heu, “King of Croissants,” to get yourself inside the mind of a professional pastry chef.
Vanilla Saint Honoré
Recipe by Marc Heu
Prep time: 3–4 days
Assembly Time: 30 mins
Skill Level: Advanced
An additional tool that will help is a “Saint Honoré” Piping Tip
Inverted Puff Pastry
Make the inverted puff pastry 3 days ahead (or you may purchase pre-made puff pastry and cook according to that recipe the day of assembly).
Butter (200 grams)
Water (80 grams)
Flour (186 grams)
Vinegar (2 grams)
Salt (6 grams)
Softened Butter (55 grams)
Vanilla Whipped Cream
Heavy cream 36% (500 grams)
Mascarpone (75 grams)
Turmaline (30 grams)
Vanilla (1 bean)
Garnish & Finishing Touches
24K Gold Leaf
- Measure and mix all of the dry ingredients for the inverted puff pastry in a bowl.
- Measure all of the wet ingredients for the puff pastry.
- Mix your dry and wet ingredients until the dough forms.
- Lay your sheet butter flat and place your dough into the butter.
- Cover the butter like you are closing a book and roll flat. Repeat this process 6 times. Allow a rest time of 5–6 hours in-between each rolling.
- Bake for 20 mins at 350 degrees between two sheet trays. Then increase the heat to 410 degrees. Then dust confectioners sugar onto the puff pastry and bake at 410 degrees for 10 mins.
- Allow to cool and then cut to 9-inch diameter circle.
- Store in an airtight container until assembly.
Cream Puffs with Caramel Glaze
These delicious filled and dipped cream puffs are the basic building blocks of the Vanilla Saint Honoré cake.
Pate a Choux Dough (cream puff dough)
100 grams water
100 grams milk
100 grams butter
4 grams salt
5 grams sugar
120 grams flour
230 grams whole eggs
Vanilla Pastry Cream (filling for cream puffs)
50 grams egg yolk (about 3)
50 grams sugar
12 grams flour
16 grams corn starch
200 grams milk
1 whole vanilla bean
50 grams water
200 grams sugar
40 grams glucose syrup
Directions for Pastry Cream
Place egg yolks into a mixing bowl. Add sugar, corn starch, and flour. Whisk together completely until mixture turns from yellow to a pale creamy color and is slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes.
Place milk in a saucepan. Split vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape the cut side with a knife to extract the paste. Add vanilla paste to the milk. Heat over medium-high, stirring, until milk just barely starts to simmer. Remove from heat. Whisk hot milk into egg mixture, starting with a small splash, then incorporating the rest. Pour mixture back into saucepan.
Place pan over medium-low heat and whisk until mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool. Pass mixture through a fine-mesh strainer. Cover surface with plastic to keep it from discoloring; refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, 2 to 3 hours.
Directions for Pate a Choux Dough
Put water, milk, butter, salt, and sugar into a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stop the heat, add flour and stir until combined. Cool the mixture by stirring, then add the eggs. Place batter into a piping bag and pipe small circles onto a buttered or parchment-lined tray. The puffs should be about 1 inch wide and half an inch in height. Bake at 325° F for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
Once cooked, take the trays out of the oven and allow the puffs to rest for 20–30 minutes before filling with pastry cream. The key is to poke a hole in the flat part of the puff in order to fill the puffs more easily. Use a pointy piping tip to make the incision. Fill your puffs with the vanilla pastry cream.
Directions for Caramel
Measure water, sugar, and glucose syrup together in a pot. Heat up your mixture until caramel forms. Immediately transfer into a glass/heat-safe container and allow to cool. Before use, heat up caramel in microwave for 30 seconds then stir. Repeat 3–4 times until the caramel is liquid again.
Take the round end of your puff and dip it into the caramel, making sure all of the extra caramel has dripped off. Repeat for all of your puffs. You can place the puff into a small round silicone mold to get a sleeker, caramelized puff.
Vanilla Saint Honoré Assembly
- Take your finished inverted puff pastry and pipe the vanilla pastry cream all over the puff pastry, leaving only an inch around the edge of the circle.
- Take the finished caramelized and filled cream puffs and place it onto the border of the puff pastry where the vanilla pastry cream was not piped
- Make your vanilla whipped cream before moving forward.
- Mix all of your ingredients together and mix on high until the cream is whipped and fluffy.
- Prep your piping bag with a “Saint Honoré Tip” (this part is very important! If you don’t use this tip, it will not look like a flower petal when piped!)
- Fill a piping bag with the cream and begin to pipe the petal onto the cake.**PRO TIP** You have to start piping from the outside-in, in order to create the illusion of a flower! Place a final puff into the center of the cake.
- Garnish with vanilla powder and 24K gold leaf to finish off this gorgeous creation.
Congratulations you reached the end of the Vanilla Saint Honoré gauntlet! After taking mental and real-life photos of your finished masterpiece, treat yourself to a slice.
And if your bake turned into an epic fail, don’t fret. Some things are better left to the professionals. Marc Heu Patisserie Paris is open Tuesday–Friday from 7am–12pm and Saturday & Sunday from 9am–2pm.