Following viennoiseries, we had a full week of pâte à choux, a light pastry dough for making éclairs, profiteroles, croquembouches, etc. Choux relies on steam trapped inside the dough to make it rise, and the technique used for making pâte à choux is designed to develop elasticity in the dough (to expand) while maximizing moisture (to generate steam when baking).
To make pâte à choux, melt salt, sugar, and butter in water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and add sifted flour. After mixing, add eggs little by little until dough is smooth and soft. Then, pipe batter using a pastry bag onto a lightly buttered baking sheet. Egg wash and streak with a fork.
Once the choux have reached their full size, slightly open the oven door for steam to escape and allow choux to dry properly.
After cooling, poke 2~3 holes at the bottom of each choux, then fill with pastry cream.
Et voilà, the éclair is done!
To make croquembouche or religieuse, pipe pâte à choux in round shapes.
Egg wash, and bake.
To make choux with a crust, cover with a layer of crumble before baking.
And they will have beautiful, crunchy crusts when baked!
We made crumbles in various colors, though my favorite is still the uncolored, natural crumble.
What is religieuse, you may ask? The word literally means “nuns”, as the pastry is supposed to represent a nun in a habit. It’s made of two choux pastries, one larger than the other, both filled with pastry cream.
Finishwith decorative butter cream.
Nuh uh, religieuses are not very easy to shape. Look at all these drunken religieuses…
For steady hands, some of us were even kneeling on the floor when piping.
Another form of choux pastry we made was Paris-Brest, which was originally created in 1891 to commemorate the Paris–Brest–Paris bicycle race, hence its wheel-like circular shape. To make this pastry, pipe a thick circular wheel and sprinkle with almond flakes, then pipe a thinner circular wheel and leave ungarnished.
After baking, slice the thicker wheel in half.
Place the thinner ring on the base, and pipe a generous amount of Paris-Brest cream (pastry cream with additional butter and almond/hazelnut praline).
Cover with top half of the thicker ring.
Paris-Brest can also come in this form.
The circles should be linked, but I piped mine too far apart so they didn’t connect during baking…
Here are some beauty shots of what we made in class this week, starting with the eclairs.
Next up: babas and petites tartes!