Sunday, August 31, 2008
Daring Bakers: August
I’ve finally gone and done it. After wondering whether I would have enough a) time and b) talent, and after seeing some amazing responses to the recent challenges, I decided to join the Daring Bakers. I love the idea of a baking group like this and I’m very glad I can finally join the fun. I was so excited when I read about this month’s challenge that I actually did a little jump for joy! I love éclairs and I was very much looking forward to trying some new pastry cream flavours.
The August challenge consisted of three elements:
- Choux Pastry
- Pastry Cream
- Chocolate Glaze
I thought I’d finally nailed choux pastry back in June during Hay Hay It's Donna Day, but my first attempt of Pierre Hermé’s recipe failed dismally and I ended up with woeful flat éclairs. On the second attempt, I kept the oven door closed for the full baking time and had a more successful outcome, though a few still sunk. I’m not really sure why, because both times I also piped a few profiteroles, and both times they puffed perfectly. The only thing I can think of that might have gone wrong is, I realised only afterwards that the eggs I used were extra-large and not large like the recipe specified.
I made two kinds of pastry cream, but it was a struggle to only pick two! I had visions of green tea flavour, or white chocolate and raspberries. My éclairs were filled with a Frangelico spiked one, and the profiteroles had a really nice strong coffee flavour. Both were adaptations of Dorie Greenspan’s recipe from Baking From My Home To Yours, and both were absolutely delicious! The chocolate glaze was gorgeously silky and rich – the perfect finishing touch.
I enjoyed the challenge, and the results were certainly tasty – even the failed éclairs were all gobbled down! I think in the future I will stick with my trusted choux pastry recipe since it has given me more consistent results, but it was great to try something new. Thank you to Tony and Meeta K for picking such a great challenge. I look forward to next month!
Recipe adapted from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
Makes 20-24 éclairs
• ½ cup whole milk
• ½ cup water
• 115g unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup plain flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature
Pastry Cream (from Dorie Greenspan)
• 2 cups milk
• 6 large egg yolks
• ½ cup sugar
• 1/3 cup cornflour, sifted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 4 teaspoons Frangelico liqueur OR 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water
• 50g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• 100g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 20g unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
• 7 tablespoons chocolate sauce (see recipe below)
• 130g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup water
• ½ cup heavy cream
• 1/3 cup sugar
1. To make the chocolate sauce, place all ingredients into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring for 10-15 minutes with a wooden smooth until the sauce thickens. When it is ready, it will coat the back of your spoon. This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
2. To make the pastry cream, bring milk to the boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, in a medium size saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornflour until thick and well blended. Still whisking, dribble in about ¼ cup of the hot milk. When combined, while continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk.
3. Transfer the saucepan to the stove. On medium heat, whisk vigorously and constantly until the mixture starts to boil. Whisk for 1-2 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and Frangelico OR coffee.
4. Stand for five minutes and then whisk in the butter, stirring until the cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate until cold. This can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
5. To make the éclairs, preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Position racks in the upper and lower halves of the oven. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
6. In a heavy bottomed medium-sized saucepan bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil. When mixture is at a rolling boil, add the flour, reduce the heat to medium and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough will come together quickly. Stir for another 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. It should be soft and smooth.
7. Transfer the dough to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. By the end, the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted, it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
8. Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2cm plain tip nozzle with the warm choux pastry. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in chubby fingers, about 11cm long. Leave about 5cm between each to allow them room to puff.
9. Slide both baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After this time, keep oven door ajar. When éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Bake for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be about 20 minutes.
10. In the meantime, make the chocolate glaze. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon. Stirring gently, add the butter one piece at a time, followed by the chocolate sauce.
11. To fill the éclairs, slice them horizontally using a serrated knife. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of baking paper. The glaze should be barely warm to the touch. Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set.
12. Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wiggle gently to settle them. Serve the éclairs as soon as they have been filled.