Thursday, January 21, 2016

One Ingredient Challenge: Eclairs and Puffs

Part of an ongoing series of cooking from scratch. That is, we cook something from basic items that don't have multiple ingredients (e.g. store-bought spaghetti sauce includes all sorts of spices and maybe other stuff too; we'd start with tomatoes and individual spices and add them together to make our own sauce). See other challenges here.

We have been watching a lot of The Great British Baking Show  (actually known as The Great British Bake Off in the UK). A recent episode featuring eclairs inspired us to try a home version. In the following photos you can see who in the family is the biggest fan of this show and who was the driving force behind this challenge.

We used the pastry recipe found here (thanks Martha!).

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs, plus possibly 1 large egg white, if needed (we didn't)
Boil the butter, sugar, salt and one cup of water in a medium saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, quickly stir in the flour.

Adding flour


Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, about three minutes until a film forms on the bottom of the pan.

Cooking over heat

Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until slightly cooled (about one minute). Raise speed to medium; add whole eggs, one at a time, until soft peaks form when batter is touched with your finger. We had a non-electric mixer:

Adding eggs

Testing for peaks

If peaks don't form, lightly beat remaining egg white and mix into a batter a little at a time until it does.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the pastry mix (called Pate a Choux) to a pastry bag with a 5/8-inch plain tip. For puffs, pipe dough into 2-inch rounds about 1 inch apart.

Making puffs

Gently flatten the pointed peaks with a moistened finger, rounding tops to ensure even rising. Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 25 minutes. The profiteroles should feel light and airy. Remove puffs from oven and transfer sheets to wire racks to cool completely.

Cooling completely

For eclairs, pipe the dough in 3 1/2 inch lengths on the parchment-papered baking sheets. Smooth the tops and brush with egg wash as for the puffs and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Raw eclairs - we did 6 inch lengths, whoops

We made a simple whipped cream filling instead of bothering with a creme patisserie.

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (we used our own homemade.  Single ingredients!)
Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla on low speed until frothy and the sugar has dissolved. Increase the speed to high and continue to whip until doubled in volume and soft peaks form.

What to do with any leftover cream (though you probably already knew to do this)

We were too tired to attempt a chocolate glaze by this point, so we just melted some chocolate chips in the microwave. Please don't tell Martha.

Filling with cream and covering with chocolate

A cook's privilege

Finished product

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