Pate à choux & éclairs

Key takeaway of this pastry class from yesterday : if your nerd in school, a nerd always you’ll be. Here I was scribbling notes on the side of the recipe sheet that was handed over to us, and asking all kinds of questions… imagine my joy when I realized I was heading home with homework : empty choux to fill with the pastry cream 🙂

But first things first, as a respectable nerd, I’m sharing my notes for those who skipped the class. Then I’ll submit myself to the hardest jury one can think of : mother-in-law and husband will assess my work…

For those who liked their notes structured here is today’s plan, following a three step process for eclairs and stuffed choux :

  1. Prepare the choux dough – can also be used for savory choux
  2. Prepare the filling – you can get creative on the flavoring
  3. Assemble and glaze – get you hands dirty and lick your fingers

 

Ingredients : for about 20 eclairs and 10 choux

  • 325g whole milk
  • 325g water
  • 325g butter unsweetened unsalted and mini 80% fat because fat is life so they said
  • 15g sugar
  • 310g all purpose flour
  • 80g white bread flour
  • 10 to 11 fresh eggs – you’ll decide depending on the texture of the dough

 

Ingredients for the pastry cream – to fill those 20 eclairs and 10 choux

  • 155g egg yolk ( about 6 eggs but you want to be precise when it comes to pastry making and scaling )
  • 80g granulated sugar
  • 60g all purpose flour
  • 60g cornstarch
  • 770g whole milk
  • 80g granulated sugar
  • 80g butter ( again think how fat is life )
  • Aroma depending on the flavor you want: vanilla (1 bean or vanilla paste), chocolate 180g of Valrhona Caraibes for instance, coffee 30g of natural coffee extract per kilo

 

Ingredients for the glazing

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 50g white chocolate

 

Recipe for choux 

  1. In a sauce pan bring to the boil the whole milk, water, butter, sugar and fine salt.
  2. Add the stifled flour at once and cook at low temperature until it forms a ball. Never stop whisking. If you have a food processor, use it to finish the whisking with the flat beater paddle until there is no more steam coming out. You want to reduce the amount of humidity in the dough.
  3. Out of the stove, add the eggs one by one until you have a soft and shiny consistency. The number of eggs can vary. You want the dough to fall slowly from the spatula.
  4. Use a piping nozzle to shape the choux : lay it flat on parchment paper, at about a 45 degree angle and press the dough out to shape a long and homogeneous shape for eclairs. Good news is you can rework the dough if the shapes are not perfect : simply use a spatula to scrap it and put it back in the jar.
  5. Glaze with egg wash and use a fork to striate lightly the choux so that they bake evenly.
  6. Let the choux rest for 30 minutes once you’ve shaped them. Heat the oven to 380F and bake for 30 to 40 minutes : you want the choux to be golden on the bottom as well and to detach well from baking paper.

You can freeze the choux, tightly wrapped, if you have too many once they’re baked for 2 to 3 weeks.

Recipe for the pastry cream 

  1. With a whisk, mix the egg yolk with the sugar ( first 80g ) until it looks brighter. Sift together the flour and cornstarch, and add them little by little to the eggs and sugar.
  2. Bring the milk to the boil with the sugar ( remaining 80g ). Adding sugar to the milk at this stage will prevent any burning at the bottom of the pan. Pour half of the milk very gently on the previous mix. This is called tempering the mix so that it becomes to the same temperature gradually. Once perfectly homogeneous, put it back in the saucepan with the remaining milk. Keep mixing on very low heat using a whisk, as soon as it becomes compact, cook another 30 seconds. Turn off the stove. You want to make sure it is well cooked to avoid a light taste of cornstarch.
  3. Add the butter and keep mixing until totally blended.
  4. For your choice of flavors : do not use vanilla extract as it is full of sugar go for vanilla paste, or simply use a vanilla bean, slice it open and scratch the inside in the mix.
  5. When the pastry cream is flavored, wrap it tightly in plastic film and put it to rest in the freezer until it’s cold.
  6. Here comes the piping nozzle again : on eclairs make 3 holes at the back of the eclair with the piping nozzle ( small tip ), on the choux, 1 hole in the center. Fill the piping nozzle with the pastry cream. Start filling the clairs from the top and bottom holes and finish with middle hole. Be careful and gentle not to break the choux.
  7. Make your glazing. Dip the stuffed eclair top in the glazing bowl.

Recipe from Mille-feuille bakery in New York and glazing from Le Grand Manuel du Patissier

And for those who fancy an extra studying on the topic, in French s’il-vous-plait, here is an excerpt from the book On va Deguster La France

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