Recently at least two of my baking exploits have come about entirely because I had leftover pastry cream. from one of my other baking projects… First brioche (in its several iterations) lead to making a fruit tart and them making a crepe cake led to extra pastry cream which I used for these Éclairs. Really it’s a cycle as old as French pastries itself. I’m now a pro at making pastry cream too!
Éclairs, which in French translate to ‘a flash of lighting,’ are made from choux dough (or pate a choux). This is the same dough used to make cream puffs, profiteroles, churros if you’re in South America, and gougeres if on the savory side of things. As opposed to dough with yeasts, this batter retains high moisture content, which when during baking produces steam, which puffs the pastry.
As with most baking I’ve done recently, I used the Flour Bakery cookbook for these tasty French delights. Chef Joanne Chang’s recipe is pretty straightforward and easy to replicate.
The hardest part of this process is piping out the éclairs. While a ziplock bag can do the trick, I bought myself a new pastry bag for my French pastries exploits that made the whole thing 10x easier!
As you can see, these babies puff right up and are easy to fill and dip in chocolate!
I, of course, couldn’t just make eclairs… and happened to have enough dough left over to make a few cream puffs and these cream puff swans!
I couldn’t resist after seeing these in Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery cookbook… I knew I had to make them!
The swans are not for the faint of heart. I couldn’t get the heads and necks piped perfectly and my cream puff bodies were on the smaller side, but I am quite proud of myself nonetheless.
Over the past couple weeks, I’ve made pate a choux more times than I can count. I think we can safely check this one off the ol’ culinary bucket list. I think I know my way around cream puffs and eclairs at this point!
- 1 cup water
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 400°
- In a medium saucepan, bring the water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil over moderate heat
- Remove the pan from the heat
- Add the flour and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes, until the dough comes together and a film forms on the bottom of the pan
- Transfer the dough to a large bowl and beat at medium speed until slightly cooled, about 1 minute
- Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition
- Transfer the dough to a pastry bag fitted with a 1-inch round tip. Pipe 5-inch-long logs for eclairs or 2-inch circles for cream puffs.
- For eclairs, bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.
- Turn the oven down to 325° and bake the shells for 30 minutes longer, or until golden brown
- Transfer to a rack and let cool.