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114 years ago a French pastry chef, Louis Durand, created a dessert to resemble the wheel of a racing bicycle to commemorate the Paris–Brest bicycle race. Eliot Collins shows us how to recreate this great dessert at home.

A bite of this rich, almond-laced wheel became popular with riders on the original Paris–Brest route, in part because of its energizing, high calorific value.

Learning from the gruelling 1200km route, Henri Desgranges (racer and journalist) organised the first Tour de France using stages, which allowed the riders to rest, in 1903. The legendary Paris-Brest can nowadays be found in patisseries all over France, and is a particularly potent symbol of two great French passions - patisserie and cycling.

Tip: You can buy the almond praline paste online, but I used almond butter. Alternatively, you can use Nutella or any other nut butter.

For this recipe, you will need:

2 x Piping bags

1 x 2cm round nozzle

1 x 1½cm fluted nozzle


Sugar thermometer

Food mixer with whisk attachment

Pastry Brush

Wooden spoon




Choux pastry

Almond butter cream (praline crème au beurre)

  • 8 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 250g of sugar
  • 250g of unsalted butter, cubed and softened
  • praline paste, almond and hazelnut, to taste (or nut butter)



Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4
For the choux pastry, add the butter, salt and water in a large saucepan and place on a high heat. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and add all of the flour
Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to form a very thick, stiff dough (panada). Continue to cook the panada by placing on and off the heat while stirring - this is to help cook out the starches in the flour, which will bind the dough with the eggs
Continue this for 2-3 minutes. Even though the dough is coming away from the sides of the pan it important to cook the dough for this amount of time
Leave to cool for 5 minutes and if you have access to a food mixer with a paddle attachment, move the dough from the saucepan to the mixer bowl. If not, don’t worry - you’ll just need extra elbow grease
Loosely beat the eggs and add the equivalent of 1 at a time into the dough. Mix well until incorporated. You’ll notice that the dough looks split and requires a lot of thorough mixing before it combines and reforms and smooth dough
Continue until all of the eggs are added, but be careful towards the end of this process as you may not need all of the eggs (the dough will end up too loose and will collapse when piping if it is too wet). The final result should be a thick glossy dough
Transfer the room temperature pastry into a piping bag fitted with a plain round nozzle. For convenience, fold down the top of the piping bag and place into a tall container (as shown) to stabilise and free up both hands
Line the base of a 22cm spring form cake tin with parchment paper - this will be your guide for piping circular shapes for the Paris-Brest
Pipe an outer circle, followed by an inner circle. I decided to pipe 3 base circles all together, but 2 will do. Next, pipe the upper layer on top of the base circles, 1 overlapping for 2 base circles and 2 overlapping for 3 base circles (as shown)
Break up the egg yolk for the glaze with a fork and use a pastry brush for coat the entire surface of the pastry rings. Sprinkle with flaked almonds to cover and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until the almonds and pastry are a medium golden brown
Remove, allow to cool and move on to the almond butter cream
In a stainless steel saucepan, combine the sugar with enough water to saturate, approximately 100ml. Place on a high heat, bring to a boil and cook until the temperature reaches 121°C
While the sugar is coming to temperature, place the egg yolks in the food mixer and whisk on a low speed. When the sugar is at 121˚C, slowly pour it over the eggs, with the mixer still running on a low speed
Once all of the hot sugar has been added, increase to full speed and continue mixing until cool - you will notice the egg yolks expand and turn lighter in colour
Next, reduce to a medium speed and gradually add the butter until completely combined. Continue mixing until smooth, whipped and creamy. Add the praline or nut butter last, adding a little at a time until you have the strength of flavour you desire
Transfer to a piping bag fitted with the fluted nozzle and store in the fridge until required
Once the choux rings are completely cool, use a sharp serrated knife to cut in half to form a base and a lid. Take off the lid and pipe the firm almond cream in swirls across the width of the rings. Work your way around the entire base to cover
Place the lid on and leave in the fridge to set for 45-60 minutes
When ready to serve, dust with icing sugar, slice and chow down after a massive bike ride!

Eliot worked as a chef partnership manager at Great British Chefs.

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