Tuesday, 8 May 2012

How to: Choux Pastry

I know I have an unhealthy obsession with food, but the thing is, a lot of the food, for me, are remnants of my childhood.  It's a very personal thing for me.  Do you ever bite into something and feel a sudden flush of memories in your head?  It may be something from your first date, from a school event, or from a memory of just being in the dining room with your family, maybe.

For me, just the thought of profiteroles brings me back to the kitchen with my grandmother as a child. It was my favorite dessert.  I see my grandmother at most twice a year, and I remember, I'd beg her to make me profiteroles every time.  To this day, when i talk to her on the phone, she still tells me how we need to make profiteroles together.  Unfortunately, a stroke hit her a couple of years ago and she's no longer able to cook, and my profiteroles do hers no justice.

My grandmother was the most amazing cook, and I sadly did not get many recipes from her.  You know someone's an amazing cook when they don't know how to give you the recipe.  She's always like "Just add enough milk, I don't know, a cup or two."  "Yea, just put it in a medium-temperatured oven and you'll know when it's ready."
So here, unfortunately, it's not my grandmother's recipe, but it's a recipe I've found to work quite well.  Oh, another thing, choux pastry, contrary to common belief, is Italian, not French.  Well, actually, I don't know if it's common belief but some people I've talked to assumed it was French. No, no.
It's not as difficult as you may imagine.  It's just a couple of techniques you need to get right, but then it's really easy.  It's important to stir rigorously and when you add the eggs, add them one at a time.  And I know, when you'll be stirring in the eggs, it may seem like the eggs and the dough won't incorporate, but trust me, it will.
With choux pastry you can make eclairs, profiteroles..Fill these with various pastry creams and drizzle with chocolate cream or dip them in caramel or a chocolate ganache.  It's a versatile pastry, you can also have it savory and fill with prosciutto and cheese, if you wish.

Prep time: 30 min  Cook time: 30 min  makes about 50 small choux buns

Adapted from Giallo Zafferano
200ml cold water
100g butter, cubed
140g flour, sifted
5g sugar
3g salt
4 eggs, whisked

1 egg yolk for egg wash

Preheat the oven to 190C.  Grease a large baking tray.

Bring the cold water, salt, butter and sugar to the boil and let boil for 5 seconds then remove from heat.  Quickly stir in the sifted flour and when well-combined, put it back on the heat (medium-high) and stir until the edges come away from the pan.  Put in a bowl and leave to cool. 

Add the eggs, a bit at a time, stirring well, making sure it's completely incorporated before adding more.  You may not need all the eggs, it needs to be dropping consistency. 

Put the mixture in a piping bag and pipe into small rounds a few cm apart from each other.  Whisk the egg yolk and brush the top of the top of the choux buns with a bit of it (it's easier just dabbing it with your finger).  Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden.

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