Make a birthday or end of a meal more spectacular with James Martin's pyramid of custard-filled, caramel-dipped choux pastry buns
By James Martin
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 16 (makes 80-100 buns)
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: hard


  • 250 ml water
  • 250 ml milk
  • 200 g butter, diced
  • 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 300 g plain flour, sifted
  • 8 eggs
  • marzipan roses, to garnish

For the filling

  • 6 eggs
  • 180 g vanilla sugar
  • 120 g plain flour
  • 800 ml milk

For the nougatine

  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 125 g blanched flaked almonds

For the caramel

  • 250 g caster sugar

Tips and Suggestions

you can make vanilla sugar out of used vanilla pods. Simply pop the clean pods into jars and fill with caster sugar. Leave for a week before using.

If you want to decorate the nougatine, mix together egg white and icing sugar, put into a piping bag and use a small nozzle to pipe on patterns.


1. For the choux buns: preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Bring the water, milk, butter, salt and sugar to the boil in a saucepan. Cook for 1 minute, stirring with a spatula. Take the pan off the heat and, stirring all the time, quickly add the sifted flour. Beat the mixture until very smooth, then put the pan back on the heat and stir with the spatula for 1 minute - be careful not to let the paste dry out too much or the pastry will crack during cooking.

2. Tip the paste into a bowl and immediately beat in the eggs, one at a time, using a spatula. Stir well until the paste is very smooth. Spoon the paste into a piping bag and pipe small mounds onto Teflon mats at an angle. Put a little cold water on your finger and push down any points. Bake in the oven for 4-5 minutes, then open the oven door slightly (about 1-2cm) and leave it ajar. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the buns, until light and crisp. Cool on a wire rack.

3. For the filling: beat the eggs, vanilla sugar, flour and a little of the milk in a bowl until smooth. Heat the remaining milk in a heavy saucepan, bring almost to the boil, then whisk into the egg mixture.

4. Rinse the saucepan and return the mixture to the pan. Stir over a gentle heat for 15-20 minutes until the mixture has thickened - do not boil or it will curdle. Leave to cool, then chill in the fridge ready for use.

5. For the nougatine: caramalise the sugar in a pan. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flaked almonds.

6. Pour the mixture onto a lined baking tray and leave to set for a few minutes. While the nougatine is still warm, cut into triangles and mould around a rolling pin.

7. Make a small hole in the bottom of each of the choux buns then pipe in the cold filling.

8. For the caramel: heat the sugar until it becomes a liquidcaramel.

9. Oil a croquembouche mould with a little olive oil. Dip each choux bun into the hot caramel and gradually build up the pyramid around the mould.

10. Once you are close to the top of the pyramid, carefully remove the mould and top with the remaining buns.

11. Put the nougatine curls around the bottom of the pyramid and arrange small white roses in gaps in between the buns.

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