Choux Pastry (Pâte à Choux)
Makes approximately 30 small choux puffs or 15 long eclairs.
250 ml water
120 g butter
150 g cake flour
1 ml salt
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and lining a baking tray with baking paper. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water is boiling and the butter is melted, add the flour and salt. Stir briskly, incorporating the flour into the liquid. Cook, stirring continuously until the mixture forms a mass and pulls away from the sides, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before adding the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition. The mixture should be soft and able to hold its shape when piped. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a nozzle of your choice and pipe small 'blobs' for the choux puffs or 10 cm lengths for the eclairs. Leave gaps of about 3 cm in between each 'blob'. Bake for 15 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius before reducing the temperature to 180 to bake for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and prick each puff with a tooth pick before placing back into the oven. Bake at 100 degrees Celsius for a further 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before filling and/or covering. Once filled, the choux puffs will only last for one day.
Helpful Hint: Baked choux puffs can be stored in an airtight container and frozen until needed. Freshen them up by baking them for 2-3 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
To compliment your èclairs or choux puffs, you need a classic crème patisserie. Here is a super quick and easy recipe...
Pastry Cream (Crème Patisserie)
500 ml milk
55 ml butter
5 ml vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla pod
2 large eggs
100 g castor sugar
50 ml cornflour
1 ml salt
Combine the milk, 15 ml of the butter and vanilla in a heat resistant bowl and bring to the boil. In a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, castor sugar, cornflour and salt. Slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture while whisking continuously. Microwave on high at 1-minute intervals until cooked, whisking vigorously after each interval. (I microwaved the custard for 3 minutes.) Add the rest of the butter and stir to combine. Cool in an ice bath, giving it a quick whisk every so often to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the fridge until required.
Helpful hint: To make the custard a bit lighter, i whisk in a bit of whipped cream (or chantilly cream).
250 ml whipping cream
15 ml icing sugar
5 ml vanilla extract
Beat the cream to soft peak stage. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat to the required stiffness.