Just back from holibobs, but here is a little something I prepared before I went...
I’ve wanted to try making choux pastry for yonks now. My mind is ingrained with an image of Fanny Cradock beating a pan of choux pastry, in full evening gown on her Christmas special. I didn’t want to don the evening gown mind, just give the pastry a whirl as it is very different to other forms. In fact choux pastry is very wet, made from water, butter, flour and eggs. It’s piped or spooned into shapes then baked, ‘til it has puffed and (hopefully) become hollow. You want it hollow so you can fill it with delicious ingredients such as crème patissiere, or in my case whipped cream swirled with cherry pie filling. I liked the look of swirling the pale cream and bright red fruit, and it tasted delicious too. Lastly I gave the buns a good dusting of icing sugar. I was pleasantly surprised by how easy these were to make…
100 grams plain flour, sifted
150 ml water
75 grams butter
4 eggs, beaten
Pinch of salt
adapted from Rachel Allen: Bake!
300ml whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bag of cherry pie filling
Icing Sugar to dust.
Preheat the oven to 170oC. Line a large baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Have another on stand-by as you may need two.
In a large saucepan, add the water and butter. Over low heat, melt the butter, then increase the heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour and salt. Stir, with a wooden spoon, until fully combined with the liquid ingredients then return to a medium heat. Stir the mixture until it starts to stick slightly to the base of the pan. Remove from the heat once again and allow to cool for a minute or two.
Add the eggs, a little bit at a time. Stir completely between each addition. The mixture does break up, but keep stirring and it soon comes together again. Add enough eggs until you get a smooth and shiny ‘dropping’ consistency. You might not need all the egg, but discard what you don’t need, once the pastry gets to the right stage. Next place the mixture in a piping bag, with a plain tip, about ½” wide.
Pipe bun shapes, like frosting the top of a cupcake, or pipe 5” long fingers, whatever you prefer. I did a mix of the two (but forgot to take a photo). Remember to keep a bit of space between the shapes as they do expand. Pop into the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. They will have become golden and puffed.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully peeling then from the greaseproof paper. Let them cool thoroughly on a wire rack. You should end up with a crisp shell, which when opened is hollow.
To make the filling, I whipped the cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff. I then took the pie filling and smeared this up the sides of a clean piping bag, before add the whipped cream. Pipe a little on paper as a trial, until the ripple effect appears. Then pipe into your split shells. Lastly, dust with icing sugar and enjoy.
This recipe can be used to make little buns for profiteroles too, just make them a bit smaller and adjust the cooking time accordingly. But it is a surprisingly easy recipe to get to grips with, so give it a whirl!