I have always thought choux pastry would be more difficult to make than it actually turned out to be. While the method is a little more involved in that the mixture is essentially cooked on the stove and then again in the oven, anyone who has ever made a bechamel sauce need not fear this delicious pastry. It was my mum who gave me sound advice and encouragement as I gave these eclairs my first attempt.
I followed the recipe from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook Companion. I have such trust in Alexander’s recipes, especially in those set out in the first chapter, that it gave me enough confidence to tackle my baking fears and I was thus rewarded with a lovely petit four.
The eclair had a lovely crunch on the outside and the custard inside was a perfect accompaniment. I followed mum’s advice; as soon as the pastry was out of the oven, I poked it with a small hole, just to allow all the steam to escape and ensure the middle did not become soggy.
- 140g plain flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 100g butter
- 5 eggs
- 1 extra egg, lightly beaten
1. Preheat your oven to 220°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. In a large heavy-based saucepan place the milk, water, butter and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and quickly add the flour, stirring vigorously until smooth.
3. Return to a low heat and continue to stir until paste comes cleanly away from side of pan – this will take 3-4 minutes, but this time can vary.
4. Transfer to a food processor or stand mixture and using a beater or paddle attachment, beat on a low speed, adding an egg at a time (ensuring that each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next egg).
5. Fill a pastry bag with pastry and pipe onto the baking tray. I piped them in the shapes of eclairs but if you are making profiteroles you would pipe circles to create little round balls.
6. Cook in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
7. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Slightly slice a small hole in each pastry to allow the steam to escape.
8. I filled with custard and iced with melted chocolate. Feel free to fill and ice as you wish, this is a wonderful basic choux pastry recipe to experiement flavours with as you please.