Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Eclairs for colleagues

Most weeks I bake for my colleague, sometimes I'll take suggestions, sometimes they've just got to take what I choose.

Last week was eclairs ... unfortunately it was a bit of a disaster week, and I had two goes at getting the chocolate topping not to seize up on me - and gave up in the end.

The creme patisserie was absolutely delicious (if I do say so myself) ... but how far can you go wrong with large amounts of egg yolks?

Crème Patisserie (from Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion)

2 cups of whole milk
1 vanilla bean (or 1tspn of vanilla bean paste)
6 egg yolks
175g castor sugar
50g cornflour

Heat milk and vanilla until just before boiling. Using an electric beater whip egg yolks, sugar and cornflour until thick. Remove vanilla bean from milk (if using), and pour warm milk over egg mix a little at a time, beating as you add, until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you want to pipe it.

The big limitation with cooking for work is that it has to travel nearly 1 1/2 hours by train and cope without a lot of refrigeration. Some of the things I love to make just wont travel, these coped - just!!

Choux Pastry (adapted from Constance Spry)
7/8 cup water
3 oz butter
1 3/4 oz plain flour (sifted 3 times)
1 tbspn castor sugar
3 eggs
Preheat oven 240degC. Grease flat baking tray. (for good pictorial instructions from Delia Smith go to: http://www.deliasmith.co.uk/cookery-school/how-to/how-to-make-choux-pastry,22,AR.html though her quantities are different to the recipe I use)
Heat water & butter until boiling, remove from heat, add sifted flour & sugar, mix flour in quickly to combine into a ball. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until it becomes a smooth paste between each egg (it will go sloppy and look awful each time an egg is added, just keep stirring!).
Put mix in piping bag and pipe out fingers (mixture will at least double in size, possibly treble ... so allow a bit of space between, and don’t make them too large if you want minis (probably no bigger than your little finger)). Sprinkle a bit of water over the tray, place in oven. Cook for 20 minutes – or until the choux are golden brown and crisp (don’t under do them as they go soggy, they need to be very dry before you take them out of the oven). Allow them to cool, then divide lengthways and fill with crème patisserie or whipped cream.

Top with chocolate that has been melted with a bit of butter.

Not too sweet - just right!! Lots of rave reviews (these people really aren't fussy though!)

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