Tuesday 10 May 2016

Eclairs - 2nd Attempt

After Sunday's failed attempts at choux pastry, and a lot of background reading, I went for another go last night. The new piping nozzle hadn't arrived, so I think the shape is still a bit off, however after a bit more tweaking, I think I'm getting there.

These had less egg in them (3, rather than 4), and after the first batch came out too dark (again!), I ended up using a temperature of 180-190'C for 30 minutes, then leaving them in the oven with the door open to dry out for another 15 minutes. This meant that they were slow to make (as for each batch I had to re-heat the oven), but the end results were...OK. The crème patisserie was, as always, lovely (and I can't recall a single time someone has said "there is too much custard in this éclair!")

I need to pipe them longer (I partly blame this on the baking tray, but in my mind a chocolate éclair should be ~6 inches long, not 4 inches like these). I didn't really like the chocolate I used to make the ganache (it really wanted to split, and I had to work very hard to pull it back). All in all, it's a move forward, but definitely improvements to be found. I remember from GBBO that strong flour can be used to produce a stronger choux bun, so might try that next time. There was also something called Craquelin that was used in Professional GBBO which gives the bun more of a crunch.

Chocolate Éclairs - Recipe

  • Pre-heat oven to 180-190'C
  • Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment

Choux Pastry Ingredients

  • 100g butter
  • 100g milk
  • 100g water
  • 5g salt
  • 8g caster sugar
  • 120g plain flour
  • 3 large eggs
 1) Place the butter, milk, water, sugar and salt in a medium pan

2) Cook on a low heat until it starts to boil

3) Take off the heat, and quickly mix in the flour, forming a paste

4) Return the pan to a medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, until the paste pulls away from the sides of the pan

5) Scrape the paste into a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and mix for a minute to smooth and cool slightly

6) Add the eggs, and mix hard until a glossy, pipable dough is formed

7) Transfer the dough to a piping bag with an open star nozzle (once mine arrives I'll take a photo)

8) Pipe 10 lengths of dough onto each baking tray

9) Bake in the oven for 30 minutes

10) Once the baking time is done, turn off the heat, crack open the door and leave for 15 minutes to dry

11) Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

Crème Patisserie Ingredients

  • 500ml milk
  • ½tsp vanilla seeds
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 50g plain flour
1) Place the milk and vanilla seeds in a small pan over a low heat. Warm up, but don't boil.

2) Put the egg yolks, sugar and flour in a heatproof bowl, and using a hand mixer whisk until white and creamy

3) Slowly add the heated milk to the egg yolks, whisking constantly

4) Put the custard into a clean pan over a low-medium heat, and whisk until it thickens (it's the egg yolk doing the thickening, not the flour, so it will thicken as it approaches boiling)

5) once the desired thickness has been achieved, scrape into a baking tray with a lip (I use a swiss roll tin), flatten, and cover with clingfilm.

6) Place in the freezer for ~1 hour to cool completely

7) Scrape into a bowl, and whisk to slacken

8) Transfer to a piping bag with a long nozzle

9) Poke a small hole in the end of each choux bun with a knife, then fill with the custard

Ganache Ingredients

  • 250g plain (40%) chocolate
  • 100g double cream
1) Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, in chunks

2) Heat the cream in a small pan until just boiling

3) Pour the cream over the chocolate, and mix/whisk

4) It should turn glossy and smooth. If it starts to split, you can recover it by;
   a) add a small amount of cold cream
   b) a small amount of butter
   c) whisk like crazy!

5) Pipe, or spread the ganache over the top of the éclairs