Sunday, 31 August 2008

Daring Bakers do éclairs

Smelling the baking !

So this month our challenge is éclairs, having missed last month I planned to do this one regardless but when I found out what it was I was even more determined as I haven't had an éclair since I went fully gluten free and it was always one of my favourite cream cakes so I looked forward to trying them again. That said I only managed to find the time with a day to spare.

We were told to keep to these three rules
1. The dough used for the éclairs must be a pâte à choux from the recipe given.
2. Keep one chocolate element in the challenge. The recipe below is for a chocolate glaze and a chocolate pastry cream. You choose which chocolate element you want to keep. Then feel free to mix and match flavours to the base recipe.
3. Everything else is fair game. Enjoy!

As always those of us who need to are allowed to change things for being gluten free or indeed other restrictions for those who have them but we are still asked to stick to the spirit of the challenge.
The finished article as per the original recipe.

For the dough I used the recipe as given with the exception I replaced the flour with 1/3 each of tapioca starch, Rice flour and millet flour plus I added a tsp of Xanth gum. Then I chose to do the chocolate pasty cream as we were given it but used a simpler chocolate glaze as the one they gave had several stages and I was pushed for time.

The recipes are at the end of this post for those who might wish to try them.

So how did it go?

Well a pâte à choux is made by cooking most of the ingredients together in a saucepan till you get a nice ball of dough and then you mix the eggs into it in a mixer. The resulting mix is then piped out and baked.

I followed the recipe as given and it worked surprisingly well particularly as other gluten free bakers had varying success. As you can see from the pictures things went quite well I was really surprised. There was a moment I thought it wouldn't come back together in the mixer but I turned it up and left it mixing for a minute and that seemed to sort it out quite well.

We tried the chocolate pasty cream which is OK but reminded me of kids chocolate pudding and we all found them a little too sickly.

Round one - cream.
Long one - apple and blackberry

Then as we had been given a lot of free cooking apples and had blackberries growing in the garden due to my lack of gardening this year I did some apple and blackberry ones. Basically I cooked off some apple, mixed with a bit of whipped cream and added fresh blackberries. These were finished with the same chocolate glaze and I though were an improvement as they were less sickly. We also had ones just filled with whipped cream which is the standard way they are done here in the UK and in some ways the way i like best but then I am a cream addict !

It was obvious that the pastries we had left after all that were not going to be much good by tomorrow as even after just a couple of hours the texture was going and they were starting to seem distinctly eggy rather than like pasty so I filled the rest with cheese and ham and gave them a quick blast in the oven. These turned out to be a very nice snack though I thought the pasty was starting to taste quite like an omelet something which wasn't obvious when it was smothered with chocolate sauce !

The Small ones view was as follows, " You could make them again tomorrow if you have the ingredients." I think that means he liked them !

Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) flour (1/3 cup each of tapioca stach, rice flour and millet flour) plus a tsp of Xanth gum
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough.
You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs as directed above.

1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

To cook
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.

2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.

3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.

Chocolate Pastry Cream
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.

Chocolate Glaze

100g dark chocolate
slug of double cream

Do you like my accurate measurements?

Melt the chocolate in a bow over boiling water, then once it is melted stir in some cream. Allow to cool before spreading on éclairs.

Assembling the éclairs:

• Chocolate glaze
• Chocolate pastry cream

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside thebottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.

2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.

3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.

1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.

2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Weekly Menu 25th - 29th August

Rather late this week as Monday was a bank holiday so felt more like the weekend. Monday was in fact THE bank holiday the time everyone traditionally goes away though we didn't but only because what we had planned to do got cancelled. However this weekend did have something new and it was food related.

We have just got a new supermarket open near us, now I'm not totally keen on supermarkets when they drive out small shops and we try and get things like vegs and bread from local shops. However this isn't Tesco or Sainsburys or even Morrisons this is a Lidl which is a German company and the range of items is very different. From a gluten free perspective one of the great things about them is they do continental sausages, we came out with four different types and we didn't get any salami or that sort of sausage these were all suitable to replace a traditional banger with.. guess what we are having this week !

The gluten free menu swap is hosted by Fresh Ginger this week and she picked Eggplant or as we call them aubergine. I like aubergine but we don't often have them so I will check the Indian grocer later in the week and if they have them I will do a dish or two with them.

Monday - went to Habibi a local Arabic restaurant, we sat out the back on cushions in a tented area open to the fresh air and all of us including Small really enjoyed both the atmosphere and the food. If you check out the website you can see the menu and everything is made fresh. Most of the dishes are naturally gluten free and indeed we had the mezza for four and all the dishes were fine, apart from the bread on the side which was easy to ignore. Even Treestump (5 months old) had some humus off my finger and seemed to enjoy it.. it's a bit of a family tradition now to introduce them to humus early. Any place that apologises they can't do us a second strawberry milkshake for Small because they ran out of strawberries gets high marks from me as nearly everywhere uses milkshake syrup not fresh fruit. I had a limeade which was again freshly made and fantastic.

Tuesday - sausages in tomato sauce served with rice or pasta.

Wensday- gammon, eggs and new potatoes

Thursday - If I have time Involtini di Pasta e Polpette or moussaka or I might check this Aubergine recipe site a little more and pick something easier.

Friday - Some sort of veggy bake or soup depending what we have extra of veg wise.

I have also been given a bag full of cooking apples so some baking for the freezer seems on the cards.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Weekly Menu 18th to 22nd August

I haven't been doing menu's for the last few weeks for several reasons the main one being no time to write them as Small has been home from school and trying to give him time around the baby means I don't have much mental space.

That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about food, far from it. Himself has recently had a cholesterol test which came back rather to high. The doc was rather short on words and without asking what his diet currently was like gave him a diet sheet and said try looking at your diet for three months and then we will test again, as he caught him on a bad day he got away with that so we have had little to go on apart from our own research. I don't think our diet is that bad but he does eat at work and snacks on the wrong things too much, as he admits he is bad at eating enough fruit and veg so have been addressing that and using an on-line food diary to log what we both eat.

This week is also Smalls fifth birthday but we are not having the party till a couple of weeks into September, the end of August is a bank holiday here and the main summer holiday time so his little friends are mostly away around now. We will be visiting one of the sets of grandparents on the actual day which means I only need to worry about food for the party itself.

Anyway on to this week.

Monday - jewelled rice and meatballs, as seen above (actually we call the rice something different but it's a little coarse for polite company! )

Tuesday - Chicken with pue lentils.

Wensday - Bean and pepper stew (basically lots of sweet peppers, fresh and dried beans , using up what we have lots of, probably some courgette as well) probably served with baked potatoes.

Thursday - At the grandparents.

Friday - pasta and sauce.

I also plan to make some Tabbouleh for lunches though not with cracked wheat obviously. I was thinking of using either quinoa or millet instead.

Plus some baking.. I want to test out some cupcakes etc for the party and of course the Daring Bakers challenge, after missing last month I have no intention of doing it twice in a row particularly as it is something I have missed since I went gluten free !! Exactly what that is you will have to wait till the end of the month to find out.

This weeks menu roundup is hosted by Gluten Free Cooking School so have a look there for other gluten free menus.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Sorry for the lack of posts

Sorry to Daring Bakers for failing to do the challenge this month.

The beginning of the school holidays, short notice visits to grandparents and so forth swallowed the end of the month before I noticed ! Will do better I promise. Having a nearly five year old at home with the baby is taking some getting used to though.

Same goes for menus with trips to visit people and the like my planning has gone a bit out the window but I'm trying to get back into it soon.