These delicious intriguing treats have a dreamy filling of choux pastry dough folded into pastry cream, encased in a thin layer of shortcrust pastry. You can add a thin bottom layer of jam, fruit or apple compote. They’re classic little French cakes that seem to have faded into obscurity but fully deserve a comeback. I didn’t expect to love them so much but am now a really big fan! The filling holds yet is soft and slightly gooey, tasty and not too sweet! It’s like flan, custard, choux, cake and tartlet all rolled into one adorably tasty little hybrid. They’re rustic but pretty too, decorated with a signature cross on top marking alternating triangles of redcurrant or blackcurrant jam with light dustings of icing sugar or ground xylitol birch sugar substitute.
It’s strange because these little cakes feel airy and light but can fill you up. They’re also addictive, luring you into repeated testings as they’re so different. You know when you’re thinking ‘Hmmm, I’m not sure, let me take another bite.’ Wink. ‘Just one more little cake to check, etc. etc.’ Anyway three cakes later I decided they’re one of my favourite not-very-sweet treats. I made a second and third glutenfree and added sugar free batch to double-check. Lol. If you have a little time for a baking experiment with milk, eggs, flour, butter, optional jam and surprisingly little or no sugar these delish little cake-tartlet-pies are for you! The three simple elements involve short easy steps and assembling the cakes is no real trouble. You won’t regret making these delightful Pont-neuf pastries… 🙂
Added sugarfree and glutenfree options
I don’t usually completely cut out gluten or sugar from my diet but have noticed a difference when I do, feeling lighter and more awake after eating the cakes. And they’re just as tasty, maybe tastier! Plus at one point during lockdown it was impossible to find standard flours or my usual Doves Farm gf mix so making my own glutenfree blend was a useful option.
There’s more about this mix and flour substitutes on my glutenfree flour mix page.
Tooth issues during lockdown also encouraged me to go as sugar-free as possible, trying my best to stay away from the dentists where social distancing measures are a challenge. My body is appreciating this break from added sugars too so there will be further xylitol experiments!
If you’re interested here’s a recently-baked added sugar-free treat: flan cassis (French blackcurrant custard tart) with xylitol. Absolutely delicious! Follow the recipe already up on the blog but substitute the 65g sugar with 50g ground xylitol (1/4 US cup less 1 teaspoon).
A little Pont neufs info
Anyway, back to the pont-neuf pastries, apparently named after the famous bridge across the Seine in Paris. But online research has provided no clue as to why it was given a bridge’s name!
These treats were made by contestants for a challenge in le Meilleur Pâtissier (Great British Bake Off’s French equivalent) and the judge Mercotte posted a recipe here (in French). She mentions these cakes are a forgotten nostalgic treat from childhood days and probably haven’t been eaten in France for at least 50 years!
It’s a shame – they’re sooo good! I’m going to make them regularly and there have already been three yummy prototypes. Here’s the first with a less fluffy filling and apple compôte.
Delicious but best eaten quickly as they soften rapidly with the compôte. Here are the rustic glutenfree and xylitol ones with blackcurrants.
Lovely and the least sweet option.
The glutenfree raspberry ones with good-quality jam (60% fruit) are also delicious.
You can’t go wrong. They’re different every time but all amazingly yummy! So here’s the recipe.
RECIPE – for 6 small tarts (in a standard 12-cupcake mould)
These cakes are inspired by several versions seen in books and online. I adapted my own pastry, pastry cream and choux dough recipes, with glutenfree and added sugarfree variations. The main basis for these cakes is combining equal quantities of pastry cream and choux pastry dough for the filling. After that you can play with them.
The extra jam, compôte or fruit filling at the bottom is optional but it’s great for the extra fruity flavour it brings. Mind you the plain ones were also delish.
There are various options for the sweeteners, including xylitol which some people say can affect your stomach but the quantities in these cakes are very small. The icing sugar/sugar versions were slightly sweeter but not much, which is typical of these cakes apparently. I love them like this but you might want to increase the quantities of sugar or serve with extra jam. You can also make the jam on the triangles thicker, as in the photo below.
Glutenfree pastry is more prone to crack after expanding and looks ‘rustic’ but is super tasty. The plain flour ones below are made in smaller moulds and neater but I prefer the larger cupcake mould ones with more filling.
Please adapt to your tastes.
- Pastry (20 mins work; chill in fridge 2 hours)
- Pastry cream (15 mins work; rest at room temperature 1-1.5 hours or more)
- 1 hour break
- Choux pastry dough (15 mins work; rest 10 minutes then use immediately)
- Assembling the pastries (20-30 mins work; bake 20-30 mins)
Optional: dividing up the eggs to use (much easier with digital weighing scales) starting with 3 medium-large free range eggs and possibly adding one extra egg (if your eggs are not extra large).
- separate 2 eggs to get 1 and 1/2 yolks (30g) for the pastry cream.
- Beat remaining 1/2 yolk (10g) with 1/2 egg white (18g) – use this quantity less a teaspoon (22-23g) for the pastry
- Keep the remaining 5g and add 1 beaten egg (55g) to give you 60g for the choux pastry.
- If you need more than 60g for your choux pastry (65g or so) use 1 extra egg, beaten. Save the remainder for brushing over the pastries before baking.
- OR just divide up the eggs as you do each stage.
Ingredients – see this printable illustration or look under each section further down
- 55g/3 and 1/2 tbsp+1 tsp unsalted butter, French-style like le Président and softened at room temperature
- 30g/1/5 cup icing (powdered) sugar or 20g/6 tsp ground xylitol (4 tsp granulated xylitol)
- small pinch salt
- 22-23g beaten egg (from 1/3 medium-large free-range egg), at room temperature
- 100g/3/4 cup+3 and 1/2 tsp glutenfree flour mix (or plain/all-purpose flour)
- 11g/4 tsp ground almonds
- Beat butter until creamy and whisk in ground xylitol and small pinch of salt.
- Whisk in egg gradually until smooth.
- Use a rubber spatula to fold in flour and ground almonds until just combined. Don’t overmix.
- Use hands to knead quickly and lightly into a slightly sticky ball.
- Roll out between two sheets of baking paper to about 2-3mm thick.
- Place in fridge to chill 2 hours.
Now make pastry cream
Pastry cream – (makes around 150-155g)
- 25g/1 tbsp+1 tsp maple syrup or caster sugar (5 tsp) or 18g/5 tsp ground xylitol (3.5 tsp granulated xylitol) – half sweetener in the milk and half in the eggs
- 30g egg yolks (1 and 1/2 free-range medium-large egg yolks)
- 11g/1 tbsp+1/2 tsp gf flour mix (or 5g/2 tsp plain flour + 5g/1 and 1/2 tsp cornflour/cornstarch
- 137g/ml milk
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (or 1/4 tsp pure vanilla powder)
- In a small-medium bowl whisk half the sugar or sweetener with egg yolks. Whisk in flours or flour mix briefly to just combine. Don’t overwhisk.
- In a small heavy-based saucepan bring the milk and other half of sugar or sweetener slowly to the boil on a low-medium heat.
- Pour milk into the bowl of egg, sugar and flour and whisk briefly to combine.
- Pour mixture back into saucepan and whisk all around without stopping on low-medium heat until it thickens. Be careful there are no lumps on the sides or bottom.
- Whisk in vanilla.
- Pour into small clean container and cover with plastic film on contact.
- Allow to cool at room temperature 1 to 1 and a half hours or more.
Have a break, read a book and 1 hour later make choux pastry.
Choux pastry (makes around 155g-160g)
More detailed instructions, illustrations and photos are on the choux pastry page in my basics pastry section.
- 32g/ml milk
- 32g/ml water
- 32g/6 and 3/4 tsp unsalted butter, French-style
- 1/4 (1g) fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp (2g) sugar or 1/4 tsp (1g) xylitol
- 42g/1/3 cup glutenfree flour mix or plain all-purpose flour
- 62-64g beaten egg (1 and 1/6 beaten egg), approximate quantity depending on your choux pastry – remaining egg to brush on pastry
- In a small saucepan gently heat milk, water, butter, salt and sweetener over low-medium heat.
- When the mixture starts to boil, let it boil well 30 seconds to 1 minute then take off heat and add flour quickly in one go. Immediately stir vigorously with a stiff plastic or silicone spoon until mixture comes together and off the sides of the saucepan.
- Let mixture fall into a clean medium-sized bowl. Add about half the beaten egg mixture and beat vigorously. You need arm muscle for this (or a standmixer with paddle attachment).
- When mixture has absorbed the egg add just under half remaining egg and beat again until absorbed (it will still be rough-looking).
- Add a little remaining egg. Beat. Repeat until you have a smooth mixture which must not be too fluid or liquid. Stop adding egg as soon as mixture is smooth and when you lift some up with the spoon it drops back in the bowl and leaves a triangle coming down off the spoon. If the mixture is too liquid the choux pastry won’t rise for choux puffs. Note: since you’re making cakes a slightly runny choux pastry might work anyway but your cakes could rise less.
- Rest the mixture 10 minutes or so then use immediately to assemble your pont-neufs.
- Optional bottom layer: 3-4 tsp tart (acid) jam like blackcurrant/raspberry (preferably with no added sugar or good-quality 60% fruit), compôte or fruit
- A little beaten egg for brushing
- Triangles on top: 2 tsp blackcurrant or redcurrant jam and a little icing (powdered) sugar or ground xylitol
Follow printable illustrated recipe or written instructions further down.
Grease 6 holes in your cupcake mould lightly with butter.
- Preheat oven to 180ºC/355ºF (fan/convection oven) or 200ºC/390ºF (static/non-convection oven).
- Whisk pastry cream to refresh so it’s smooth and creamy. For precision weigh it in a medium-sized clean bowl – it should be about 150g.
- Add the same quantity (about 150g) of choux pastry dough into the pastry cream (it should be approximately the quantity you made less 1 teaspoon). Fold gently until the two are combined in a smooth cream. Don’t overmix. You can see in the photos the glutenfree flour pastry cream and dough were not as smooth as in other versions but they still worked great.
- Cut out circles of pastry about 9cm/ 3.5in diametre (depending on your moulds) and line 6 tartlet tins or 6 holes in a cupcake mould. Use thumb to press pastry to the sides and up to near the top if necessary – patch up holes with extra pastry.
- Cut strips from remaining pastry about 6-8 mm (1/4in) wide to decorate the tops with crosses (if necessary roll out pastry again to 2-3mm thick and chill in fridge before cutting).
- Optionally spoon 1/2 teaspoon jam, compôte or fruit at the bottom of each tartlet. 1/2 teaspoon is safer than 1 teaspoon as too much can explode out to the top.
- Place pastry/choux cream in a piping bag (no need for a nozzle, just a hole) or small plastic bag with a hole cut in it. Pipe mixture into tartlets to almost the top (leave 2mm/1/16 in). You can also just spoon the mixture in.
- Decorate tops with pastry crosses.
- Brush pastry with a little beaten egg.
Bake 20 – 30 minutes. The pastries may rise a little crazily, ‘exploding’ upwards. Don’t panic, after cooling 5 minutes they go back down to looking more normal.
The pastry crosses can crack (especially if glutenfree, with less elasticity or on an overfilled cake) but decoration improves the appearance. Anyway all prototypes are delicious and glutenfree ones are tastier. So let’s look at imperfect ones and say ‘You’re amazing! Yum!’ Then let them cool completely before decorating.
- Sieve a little icing sugar or ground xylitol on two opposite triangles on top.
- Spread a little jam on the other two triangles.
Eating and storing
You can eat them as soon as they’re decorated. In an airtight jar or container at room temperature (not too hot) they keep 3 or 4 days and stay just as yummy.
With fruit compôte (purée) they need to be eaten the same day or stored in the fridge the second day, when they’ll be yummy but soft.
Please have a little pont-neuf pastry. Any preferences? With apple compôte or … blackcurrants?
Raspberry jam… ?
They might become one of your favourite treats too.
I hope so.
Bye for now dears! Hope you’re keeping well, safe and enjoying some interesting kitchen experiments with some happy baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x