There are two things the French are undoubtedly world-class at: bicycle races, and pastries. The Paris-Brest is a century old delicacy that happens to bring these two national heritages together. Indeed, the circular dessert was created In 1910 in tribute to the 1,200 kilometers bicycle race from Paris to Brest.
Along with the Tour de France, Paris-Brest is one of the most popular cycling events in the country, gathering at each edition both amateur and professional cyclists. This iconic competition was created in 1895 and initially only allowed French participants. It is today the biggest cyclotourism event in the world, welcoming thousands of international bicycle aficionados every summer.
In the early 20th century, the renowned baker Louis Durant commemorated the event in the most French way possible: he named a pâtisserie after it. But that’s not it! He also shaped his creation in the form of a bicycle wheel and made sure the pastry was rich and fulfilling enough to nourish cyclists during their effort. The Paris-Brest was born.
The recipe remains unchanged to this day: a ring of choux pastry sliced like a bagel, filled with hazelnut cream and topped with caramelized almonds. The two layers of fluffy pastry, enclosing the silky cream create an explosion of taste and sensation. Sport nutrition at its finest!
Yet baking it is an athletic performance itself. It takes about two hours of careful crafting and two days of patience to let the praline cream cool off, before finally enjoying it.
If you do not feel like going through such challenge, do not worry about it; your local French bakery will surely have it ready for you!
Fun Fact: You will have to bike for about 45 minutes to burn the calories of this treat!
Written by Nelson Dumas
European Union Terminology student at the University of Luxembourg. Nelson holds a Bachelor degree in Economics and Business Management and pursues a Master degree in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg.