Eclairs. Cadbury’s and otherwise.

The first thought in my head when I hear the word eclair is always Cadbury’s eclairs. The yummy sweets which I still don’t say no to. Me and my cousin, who is 6 months elder and lives in Jallandhar, once had a competition for eating eclairs. Now unlike competitions where the aim is how many you can have, since we only had one eclair each, the competition was how quickly can you eat it. I won. Well, not really. Once I finished my eclair and claimed victory, I realised my cousin’s devious plan. She smiled and then told me in sing song ‘Tussi te chak maar ke khayi, assi taan choopange’ (which means ‘you have eaten yours by biting into it, I will eat slowly by sucking it’). She then went on to enjoy her sweet for 5 minutes, I sat there looking sad, looking at her for the whole time. I realised my folly and learnt two simple lessons – first, winning isn’t the best always and second, never again will I bite and eat eclairs.

The story of these baked eclairs in my life is quite interesting actually. During my graduation days in Delhi University (it was aaaages ago. Sigh. Old age.), a friend offered to drop me home in her dad’s car.A welcome break from DTC, I accepted imediately. She stopped at a shop called Jain Bakery (I know!) in Kamla Nagar and said ‘they make excellent eclairs, I will get one for you too’. I expected her to come back with a version of the Cadbury’s eclairs, instead she came back with this big pastry filled with cream and topped with chocolate. I told her that I was surprised that this is called eclair too. She was already eating hers, I don’t think she heard me. As soon as I bit into it, the memory that was triggered was again of our holidays in Jallandhar. There was a small shop there, where we kids would be sent with 10-15 rupees to buy some sweets, the only condition being whatever we bought would be shared with all. I used to always buy cream rolls, which I have not had in ages. I think it might be a bastardised version of some firang dish but it was this sort of puff pastry-ish roll with sweet cream in it. From the first bite to the last, it was awesomeness. Eclair reminded of exactly that.

Ages have passed and I never had cream roll but eclairs I have once in a while, conscious of the calories and all that nonsense. Paul’s which is my favourite bakery in London (even though it is a chain) makes excellent eclairs. But that is not the reason I made them last week. I was going through the Rachel Allen book ‘Bake’ (which is brilliant) and saw the different kinds of pastry making techniques. Usually, I think of the fancy recipes to be beyond me, but the AMI is very encouraging, so I gave it a go.

The recipe is surprisingly easy, though we had disasters with substandard piping equipment. The Ikea piping bag turned out to be like a fountain when we tested it with water and the cream split the first time, so it took much longer than expected. I know that the next time will be much more glitch free. The taste though was awesome, a few more tries and my eclairs will look as good as the ones at Paul’s. They already taste as good (I am modest like that).

The recipe should make around 25 small eclairs. Because of piping issues, mine were all of different sizes. I like the small ones since they are healthier and very honestly, a little piece is perfect to satiate the appetite.

There are 3 parts to this recipe:

1. The choux pastry (also used to make profiteroles)

2. Creme Chantilly (super easy, even though I messed up the first time. I will tell you why I messed up soon and also how to avoid it)

3. Glace Icing (which is basically fraud icing but tastes very nice)

Choux Pastry

Ingredients:

Water – 150ml

Unsalted butter – 75g

Eggs – 3 beaten (might need adjustment) + some beaten egg for egg wash

Plain Flour – 100g

Salt – a pinch

Method:

1. Sift flour and salt in a bowl and keep aside.

2. Place water and butter in a saucepan. Set over medium high heat, stir and wait until the butter melts.

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3. Let the mixture boil properly (also called a rolling boil. I just learnt that means properly boil or also called more than simmer)

4. Remove from the heat and add the flour and salt and mix well (the recipe asks for a wooden spoon, not sure why). Beat very well, till it all comes together.

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5. Reduce heat to medium, return the saucepan and stir for around a minute or till the mixture starts to stick to the bottom very slightly (also called furring).

6. Remove from heat, allow to cool for a few minutes (1-2).

7. Put a quarter of the egg and beat well. Keep beating till the mixture comes together.

8. Slowly add the remaining egg, repeating step 7 again and again till the final mixture becomes soft, shiny and has a dropping consistency. You may need to adjust the eggs to ensure consistency. Add more egg or keep back some egg as you see fit.

IMG_2008

Baking the pastry:

1. Preheat oven to 220 deg C/200 deg C fan. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2. Place the choux pastry dough into a piping bag with a plain nozzle (1 cm roughly). Pipe into roughly 10cm lengths with around 4cm gap between them. Use a wet knife to ensure the dough stops coming out between each eclair.

3. Lightly brush the eclairs with the beaten egg and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 200 deg C/180 deg C fan.

4. Cook for another 15-20 minutes or until they puff up and turn golden and crisp.

5. Remove from oven, make a roughly 3mm hole in the eclair using a skewer. Return to oven and bake for another 5 minutes.

6. Cool the eclairs on a cooling rack.

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Creme Chantilly

Ingredients:

Whipping cream – 400 ml

Icing sugar – 1-2 sifted tablespoons

Good vanilla extract (1 tsp) or half a vanilla pod

(I think essence might not be a good option, since the cream has a nice vanilla flavour and essence might make it taste artificial)

Method:

(The mistake I made was that the cream had been lying outside the fridge for a long-ish time before I started whipping. Cream is fairly sensitive to temperature, so it split while I was whipping, since whipping also increases the temperature. Also, like a genius, I tried whipping with manual whisk which took longer and increased temperature further. A trick is to keep the container with the cream over ice while whipping)

Whip the cream with a electric whisk and start adding the sugar slowly. Once you see stiff peaks in the cream, fold in the vanilla extract. Folding, i.e. slowly mixing the liquid in the airy cream, ensures that the cream doesn’t start deflating.

Chill until ready to use.

Glace Icing

Ingredients:

Cocoa powder – 25 g

Icing sugar – 200g

Boiling water – 1-2 tbsp

Sift icing sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Add the boiling water slowly and keep stirring. Keep adding water and stirring till it gets to a spreadable consistency. Sort of nutella consistency, maybe a touch thinner. (Hopefully this is not confusing.) You can adjust as you go along.

Assembly:

1. When eclairs are cool, spoon creme chantilly into a piping bag with 3mm nozzle. Pipe the cream through the hole in the eclair. The eclair will puff up and make sure you fill them well.

2. Using a palette or butter knife and spread the chocolate icing on the top. To make the top icing look clean, dip knife in hot water between eclairs.

Serve.

Eclairs

They are delicious! There are quite a few steps in the recipe but they are not difficult. The most amazing thing for me was, why does the pastry rise (and it rises a lot) when there is no leavening agent in it. Another thing was the pastry is sugar free but with the cream and chocolate it is a perfect balance of taste.

If you don’t make it, go buy one and enjoy. Maybe have a speed eating contest with someone and you know what to do.

Though, be careful, it can backfire once in a while. I played the speed eating trick on my younger brother once with cadbury’s eclairs. After I revealed my strategy, he started to bawl and my parents gave him another eclair. Hmmph.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Eclairs. Cadbury’s and otherwise.”
  1. Reeta says:

    gorgeous shiny eclairs…yummm! just discovered your blog (may have visited earlier though)
    šŸ™‚
    Keep posting!

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