So as a part of my new years resolution I decide to try some pastry making. My first attempt comes from one of the most recognized names in the pastry world: Le Cordon Bleu: Dessert Techniques.
This volume focuses on teaching pastry design techniques and recipes. You will see a lot of the recipes out of this book in the future because of the amazing way in which it describes each process step-by-step. The glossy color photos are amazing and really makes you understand the result you are looking for before you even step into the kitchen!
A couple of months ago I tried to make éclairs from the King Arthur: Whole Grains Baking book, of course I hyped them up prior to making them. This was a lesson learned :/ Cook before you announce! After two days of saying, "Wait until you taste my caramel éclairs..." the family almost threw me out onto the street after they flopped. I had misread an ingredient in the recipe and they didn't turn out - my fault, not King Arthur's. So I felt I needed to really redeem myself on this one so the first recipe up to bat was the Pate Choux (pronounced like 'shoe'). This is the base for several variations on the éclair's.
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup water or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten
- Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a separate mixing bowl.
- Pour the water and butter in a medium sauce pan. Heat just enough to melt the butter. Then turn the heat up and bring it to a boil.
- Remove the boiling water from the heat and pour in the flour mixture.
- Mix just long enough for the dough to come away from the sides.
- Caution! Do not use a paddle attachment to do this! Mixing in this way will over work the dough and make it oily
- Set aside for about 15 minutes to cool.
- Gradually pour in a little egg at a time and mix into the dough until the all the ingredients are smooth and glossy.
- Caution! It is very crucial at this stage to ensure the mixture has cooled off otherwise the eggs will cook inside the dough so, DON'T RUSH!!!!
LEWIS NOTES ON THE MAKING OF PATE CHOUX: (that aren't already in italics)
- This whole process actually only takes about 20 minutes. It's the piping that will kill you.
- When you're mixing the eggs in you REALLY want to make sure the mixture is cooled off but not cold.
- While mixing in the eggs you are going to feel like your arm is about to fall off - KEEP GOING!!! This dough looks like it will never come together then - BAM! It does and looks beautiful - literally.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:
- Put all of the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a nozel of your choice.
- On a non-stick pan or silicon mat pipe out the desired shapes
- Traditional shapes: Rings, fingers (éclairs), and buns
- Bake at 425F for 10 minutes then at 350F for 5-10 minutes for smaller shapes and 15 minutes for larger ones.
- Cool on a wire rack completely
- Fill with your favorite Chantilly cream or mousse or get really crazy and fill with seasonal fruit and top with chocolate - you are the limit :)
LEWIS NOTES ON PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:
- Make sure if you make all the various designs BIG. The insides will cook in such a way that a cavity is left inside of them. That is what makes this special and ready to receive a filling. If you don't make the shape big enough the cavity will not be vary large and almost impossible to fill. I encountered this with the ring design - oops!
- You really can't have too big of a pastry bag. I had to go and purchase a 21" pastry bag especially for this project! I had previously been using disposable 9" and they were just overwhelmed by the dough - so invest wisely.
- I used the Chantilly cream (very basic recipe) next time I will use chocolate to mimic a more traditional éclair I encourage you to explore! Either way they taste great!
MY PROFESSIONAL PIPING SKILLS:
THE DELICIOUS FINISHED PRODUCT:
I hope you enjoy these delicious treats as much as my family and I enjoyed them! I can't encourage you enough to try many different fillings. I truly feel vindicated after my initial failure with this lovely dessert.
Have you ever attempted to make a dessert and failed horribly? Have a vindicating tale of success about a baking project? Stop in and tell us all about it!