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What is a St. Honore Cake?

Jessica Ellis
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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The St. Honore cake is an extremely complicated dessert not to be attempted by the faint-hearted pastry chef. Named for the French patron saint of bakers, the St. Honore is nonetheless a specialty of many Italian bakeries as well as French ones. The cake is served mostly for special occasions, and is a rich and buttery combination of pastry, Bavarian cream and rum.

The base of a St. Honore cake is made of pate brisee, a French pastry dough that is simply a combination of flour, butter, salt and ice water. The base is filled with pastry cream or Bavarian cream, often thickened with gelatin or cornstarch and heavily infused with rum. Italian versions of the cake may also use Marsala wine as a flavoring instead of, or in addition to, rum. This liquored concoction can be quite potent, and may give an alcoholic buzz to those returning for seconds. Atop the cream filling sits a layer of choux pastry, a light dough often used for éclairs and profiteroles.

Surrounding the main cake are cream puffs, filled with either custard or whipped cream and dipped in a thin caramel, making them similar to croquembouche. The filling in the puffs may also be flavored, usually with more rum or vanilla. The top of cake is decorated with whipped cream and often glaceed cherries, a finishing touch on a pastry masterpiece.

Making your own St. Honore is a time consuming, daring enterprise best left to extremely able pastry chefs. In addition to the easily burnable cream fillings, you must prepare both the pate brisee and the choux, which are time consuming enough on their own. This cake is truly a special occasion dessert, perfect for events where chocolate or vanilla will just not go far enough. Unless you have a lot of time on your hands and no fears where baking is concerned, check local pastry shops and bakeries to see where you can find an authentic St. Honore cake.

The flexibility of the dough and the added bulk of the cream puffs allow the St. Honore cake to be made quite large. Although only a single layer, these cakes can easily be made to serve 100 people. They can make a spectacular tiered wedding cake, with both the main cake and the surrounding puffs easily accommodating a large gathering of people.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis , Writer
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for DelightedCooking. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

By DentalFloss — On Dec 14, 2010

This sounds like the ultimate decadent cake dessert. If I am ever in France, I will have to find place to try one...though I may not go back for seconds, the last thing my dessert needs to give me is a buzz.

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis

Writer

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
Learn more
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