Sunday, 2 November 2014

Eclairs

I decided to try to make some eclairs.  I must say it was not without problems.  Researching the various recipes it was very difficult to decide which one would produce the ideal results.  

There seem to be two schools of thought.  One says cook the pastry oh a high heat for a while and then reduce the heat for the remaining time.  The other says to cook the pastry on the same heat throughout.  The times for cooking seem to vary as well. 

Yesterday I made my first attempt and, having followed the recipe slavishly, the results were not satisfactory.  The pastry case should be risen and crispy on the outside.  But mine had risen but, although the top was crispy, the side were soft and therefore unlikely to be properly cooked.  So I dumped them and tried again this morning.

The difference with this morning's recipe was that the cooking time was longer, overall, and the starting temperature was higher.  The results were much more satisfactory.  But when I cut them open there was still a residue of soft dough inside, which I pulled off.  I had watched a video where exactly that happened, so it seems to be a common occurrence.

The recipe I followed was Mary Berry's, from BBC Food.   I reproduce that below, but I actually didn't do the raspberry ones, since I didn't have raspberry powder.  Instead I filled some with cream and topped them with chocolate.  The others are as per the recipe, with the cream mixed with lemon curd.  I didn't bother with piping white chocolate over the top, as I don't think it was necessary, adding little to the overall flavour.

They seem to be fine, but the proof will be in the eating, which will be done later.

It was a worthwhile experience to try this type of confection, though I am unlikely to do it again, since it seems to be a lot of messing about.

The other comment I have on the recipe is that even with 12 eclairs, and I only had ten due to making them slightly larger, 600 ml of cream is rather more than you actually need to fill them.  Yesterday's recipe, which had exactly the same ingredients for the pastry, suggested 400 ml of cream.  That is probably more realistic.


Eclairs - Chocolate and Lemon curd

Ingredients:
For the choux pastry
  • 50g/1¾oz butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
  • 65g/2¼oz plain flour
  • 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 150ml water
For the filling
  • 600ml/1 pint double cream
  • 6 tbsp lemon curd
  • 2 tbsp freeze-dried raspberry powder

For the icing
  • 400g/14oz icing sugar
  • ½ lemon, juice only
  • pink food colouring paste
  • yellow food colouring paste
  • 100g/3½oz white chocolate drops, melted
  • 100g/3½oz dark chocolate drops, melted

Method:
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C(fan)/Gas 7. Grease two large baking trays with butter.
  2. For the choux pastry, put the butter and 150ml/5½fl oz water in a small pan over a low heat. Bring slowly to the boil, tip in the flour, then remove from the heat. Stir vigorously.
  3. When the mixture becomes a smooth paste, return the pan to the heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will dry out a little and form a soft ball that comes away from the sides of the pan.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat again, leave the mixture to cool slightly, then gradually add the eggs, beating really well between each addition until the mixture is smooth and glossy. (You may not need all the eggs, the mixture should be a piping consistency.)
  5. Sprinkle the baking tray with water (a water spray with a fine nozzle is good for this).
  6. Spoon the éclair mixture into a large piping bag fitted with a 1cm/½in plain nozzle. Pipe the mixture onto the baking sheets into 7.5cm/3in lengths, leaving room between each éclair for them to spread a bit.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190C/170C(fan)/Gas 5 and bake for a further 20 minutes. Split each éclair in half lengthways and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. For the filling, whip the cream to soft peaks. Divide the cream into separate bowls and fold the lemon curd into one bowl of cream and the raspberry powder into the other.
  9. Once the éclairs have cooled, spoon the lemon cream into a piping bag fitted with a 1cm/½in plain nozzle and pipe the lemon cream into the bottom half of six éclairs, then spoon the raspberry cream into the piping bag and pipe into the bottom half of the remaining éclairs.
  10. For the icing, place half the icing sugar in a bowl and mix with enough lemon juice to form a very stiff icing. Colour with the yellow food colouring and spoon into a disposable piping bag.
  11. Tip the remaining icing sugar into a bowl and add enough water to make a very stiff icing.
  12. Colour with the pink food colouring and spoon into a disposable piping bag. Snip the ends off the piping bags and pipe on top of the raspberry éclairs. Spread the icing out using a palette knife dipped in boiling water, so the top is smooth.
  13. Repeat with the yellow icing on the remaining six eclairs. Place on top of the lemon cream filled eclairs.
  14. Drizzle the melted white chocolate over the raspberry éclairs in a zig zag pattern. Drizzle swirls of melted dark chocolate over the lemon éclairs. Serve.

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