Learning 2 Bake from Scratch – XXXVIII


It’s not quite as ambitious as it may seem. I’ve made both cream puffs and eclairs without posting anything about it. I was inspired by the Jamie and Julia effort:

Erin’s pate a choux was a great learning experience:

But I like Helen’s recipe better because it includes the filling:

The recipe doesn’t seem to be included in a useful format, so I transcribed it. Since this is so long, I interleaved the pictures.

Cream Puffs

Pastry Cream:

In pot over medium-low heat, add:
242 g whole milk
242 g heavy cream
100 g gran sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In bowl, combine:
2 large eggs
32 g corn starch
Whisk until completely smooth – get all lumps out.

You can’t see it, but there is salt on the butter – and it’s salted butter. <gasp!>

When milk simmers, put a ladle of it into the egg/corn starch (aka “temper the eggs”).

Bring milk to full boil. Take off heat. Pour in egg mixture through strainer. Put back on med heat and whisk. Don’t panic if it starts to clump – the eggs are not scrambling. Don’t take it off the heat once it smooths. It must boil for one full minute after boil of the cream (it will burp, not boil).

Take off heat. Add:
1 Tbl liquire.
A pinch of salt.
3 Tbl cold, unsalted butter in Tbl pieces.
When butter melts, it’s done.

Line a shallow baking dish with plastic wrap, pour in cream, put another plastic over top. (It will cool faster this way.) Put in fridge. (I dispute this step – it gets too thick.)

I’ll probably die before I use all that plastic wrap.

Pate a Choux:

Preheat oven to 350 with racks in upper and lower thirds.

In pot on medium heat, add:
120 g whole milk
120 g water
1/2 tsp table salt (2.8 g)
1 tsp gran sugar
113 g unsalted butter

Prepare, separately:
142 g bread flour (‘bread’ is important), sifted
230 g eggs (4-5 depending)

When pot boils, dump in all flour at once. Stir and smash lumps and cook for 5 minutes – use a timer. The flour must cook. Should start to sizzle a bit after 1 minute. If not, turn it up a bit. No browning; turn it down immediately if seen. Spread it across bottom, scrape it over, flip, repeat. Pot will get a skin on the bottom. This is normal and means you’re doing it right. Cooking longer is better than not cooking enough. This is driving out moisture so we can add more egg.

It’s supposed to look like this; that’s how you know it’s hot enough.

Dump into mixer and mix a bit to let the steam out. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Note the egg weight. Four wasn’t enough, but five was too many. I had just a bit left (I didn’t weigh it).

Add eggs by 1/4s. Mix until smooth each time. This is a lot, so you may want to reserve some so you don’t add too much. Dough should be very soft, but not drippy. Makes a V-shape on the paddle.

Put it in a piping bag with a big tip.

On the bottom of a baking sheet, put parchment on with a dab of dough in each corner. Two sheets uses most of the dough. Baking both at once is good – it adds more moisture to the oven.

12 g per puff for small. 15 g for big. Do one on a scale to get sense of size. Pipe four to five across each row, offsetting the rows.

I’m glad I went big.

Steam oven (pour some boiling water into small pans). Spray the puffs with water. Dampen your finger and smooth off any tips from piping.

Good recipe amount; not much leftover at all. My piping skillz need work.

Put trays in oven. Set a timer for 25 for small 30 for big. Do NOT open the door (it lets the steam out). Once they are puffed and browned, you can swap racks or leave one in a bit longer.

Remove puffs and water pans. Poke puffs with something small to let steam out of the inside so they stay crisp or poke the filling hole in them. Put them back into the oven to dry out even more.

At this point we pause because I put the mixing bowl in the dishwasher, made dinner, and took a nap.

Diplomat Cream:

In large bowl, whisk the pastry cream to get it creamy again (it’s rubbery after refrigeration).
In mixer, whip
230 g of heavy cream.
When foamy, but not peaked, add
60g of creme fresh.
Beat until stiff peaks, but don’t over beat.
Fold whipped cream into pastry cream (1/3 first, then the rest).

Put cream in bag, pipe into puffs. Squeeze hard to completely fill puff. Accept that some cream may escape from cracks in the sides. The cream will start to come out the filling hole. Scrape it off at the end.

Chocolate Glaze:

113 g cream to a boil (nuke or stove).
113 g dark chocolate (chips are easiest)
25 g light corn syrup – keeps glaze from getting hard and dull.

Dunk the puffs to cover the top. Give them 30 minutes in the fridge to cool.

I’m adding the pictures as these cool in the ‘fridge.

Then they all need to be croquembouched. Let’s get this far, first…

I decided to glaze them rather than go full on caramel because if I glue the pyramid together with caramel, the cream puffs will break apart when they are pulled off. I’m going to toothpick them onto a styrofoam cone (yes, I washed it) then spin the caramel over the top.

Most of the caramel recipes are for sauce. I don’t want that. I just want spun sugar. So, that’s easy: 1/2 cup sugar, 1/8 cup water, cook until very lightly browned, because it will keep darkening until the pot cools down. Dip a fork in it and wave it around the tree.

It’s took about 30 minutes to get all the pictures embedded, so let’s try it and see what happens…

Well. It takes a LOT of cream puffs to cover a not-very-big cone. I cut off both ends. The result is a croqemstump, not a bush.

Bonus points to anyone who recognizes the plate.

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