07 September 2014

Choux pastry

The second day in class we talked about choux pastry. Choux pastry is a light half cooked dough made with water, butter, flour and eggs. There is no rising agent so basically what makes it rise is a combination of high temperature and steam.

We used choix pastry for making profiteroles and eclairs. I have made profiteroles before and sometimes they rise and sometimes they don't. And I never knew what went wrong. For something that only has 4 ingredients it's still a bit tricky to make. Too many eggs and the profiteroles will rise too much and crack. If the dough is not cooked enough, it doesn't produce enough gluten to hold everything together. If it's baked in the oven on high temperature too long the outside will burn while the inside is still not cooked.

The trick of getting it right is to carefully weigh all the ingredients, cook the dough till it's shiny, add just enough eggs to make a batter and turn the oven lower after the dough has puffed till it can't puff no more. Even then it's not easy to get it right.

In class we had to work in pairs to make the dough. Everything went well till we added the last egg. That last egg did it. It made the batter thin and because we couldn't fix it we baked it anyway. With a pastry bag we piped some piles for profiteroles and some for eclairs. The profiteroles and eclairs came out huge. Huge and flat, because I turned the oven temperature lower too early. So we learned 2 things that day. Too much egg is bad and not letting the dough rise enough is bad.

In the afternoon we learned how to make crème patisserie. Crème patisserie is just a fancy word for pastry creme and it's basically a thick custard. After cooling it we mixed it together with some whipped cream so we could stuff our profiteroles and eclairs.

We didn't want to dip our profiteroles and eclairs in chocolate because that would make them too sweet. Instead we just decorated it with a bit of chocolate.
Our profiteroles and eclairs might not look pretty, but they tasted pretty good. 

At home I tried to make the dough again, this time using half the recipe we use in class:
- 250 ml water
- 125 gr butter
- 125 gr flour
- 4 small eggs (or as much as needed)
oven temperature 225C Celsius till they don't puff up anymore then 175C

I cut the butter in small cubes and started cooking them in the water. After the butter melted I took the pan of the stove and stirred in all the flour. Then the pan went on the stove again and I cooked the dough till I could see a small layer of fat (the melted butter) on it. The pan went off the stove again and I mixed in one egg at the time. First the dough is lumpy and doesn't want to form a batter but by the time I got to the forth egg the dough had the right consistency.
I put all the dough in a pastry bag and start pipping the piles for profiteroles and eclairs on baking paper. I tried to make them all the same size so they could cook the same.

I baked them till they were nice an puffed and took one out to check the inside. Since the inside wasn't cooked I lower the temperature to 175C Celsius and let them cook for a bit longer. I don't mentioned any time because every oven is different and it also depend on the size of the profiteroles and eclairs. Bottom line is: I start with 225C and after they are done rising (and if they aren't cooked in the inside) I turn the temperature down to 175C so the inside can cook.

I didn't had enough ingredients for the crème patisserie so I made a different stuffing. While the profiteroles and eclairs were cooling down I whipped up 200ml whipping cream. Instead of putting sugar in the whipping cream I added 1,5 tablespoons of homemade lemon curd. I figured that they were going to be sweet enough with a chocolate topping anyway. 
I used a scissor to make a little hole in the bottom of the profiteroles and I used a pastry bag to fill them. I did the same with the eclairs. After that I dipped them in some melted chocolate.
These look like proper profiteroles.
Piping skills on the eclair can be better, so there is definitely room for improvement.

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