Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pastry Challenge

Every once in a while I like to challenge myself by cooking something new. And, if you want a culinary challenge baking is your thing. There is a delicate science to baking. If the dough is too thin or too thick the result will be undesirable. And, that is what I got with my first attempt with my éclair challenge.

My first try ended in a greasy heavy dough. This is not an éclair. Thoughts of tasting it still make me nausea. I have made popovers and Yorkshire pudding before, both egg based dough, which are similar to an éclair or puff pastry, but with slightly different taste. The results were good. My éclair, on the other hand, proved to be more temperamental.

My second go at it made the grade. However, before I hit the oven I scoured several cookbooks to see exactly what I was missing.

The pastry dough for éclairs is a basic choux dough. Choux is a cross between a batter and a dough. First the paste is made by cooking water, butter and flour. Eggs are added one at a time and the paste quickly turns to a batter. The batter is ready when it is at the ribbon stage. To check, raise a spoonful of the batter and an uninterrupted flow will occur, cording a ribbon.

The pastry cream was simple enough. It has the taste of vanilla pudding, but a little thicker. This consistency holds up better in the puff pastry. A little bit of chocolate glaze and you have an éclair any French pastry chef would enjoy.

June 22nd is National Chocolate Éclair Day
Pastry Cream
1 ¼ cup milk
3 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, warm milk over low heat. Do not boil, just hot enough to steam. In another saucepan whisk egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornstarch until smooth. Remove milk from heat. Add half of the milk to egg mixture. Stir until well incorporated. Add the remaining milk and heat for 1 -2 minutes. Continue stirring. Remove from heat and chill for at least 1 hour.
Choux Pastry Dough
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup watermelon
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup all-purpose flour
4 eggs
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and water. Add sugar, salt and flour and stir until a sticky batter forms. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Remove from heat. Fill a pastry bag with the batter and pipe out 4 each logs onto a coated cooking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes at 425. Bake an additional 10 minutes at 375. Cool on a wire rack. Fill with pastry cream with a pastry bag or slice open and fill. Top with chocolate glaze.
Chocolate Glaze
2 ounces of semisweet chocolate
¼ cup half and half
Place chocolate and half and half in a heat proof bowl and heat in a microwave for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir until smooth.


KritonnicBlitonnic said...

I tasted this in person! Excellent! Better than a bakery!!!

fromBAtoParis said...

My first visit to your blog !! You are right...Pastry is a science...I also do "self imposed challenges"
If this is the first time to try an éclair, good for you !!!!
It is not THAT easy....Congrats!

Carolyn Jung said...

Even when you fail, you no doubt learn something in the process. That's how I feel when I bake something that doesn't turn out 100 percent. And then there are those few, wonderful times when a "mistake'' actually results in something better. ;)