The extent of my baking knowledge up until now has been to follow the instructions on the back of the ready mix boxes. Come along with Shae and myself as we embark on a six week baking challenge where we push our comfort zones and try baking recipes we have never done before!
Week 1 – Eclairs
Eclairs are a filled pastry dessert topped with icing. I don’t think I had ever even eaten an eclair before trying to make one, but they couldn’t be that hard to make, right?
Armed with a photo tutorial from frostingandasmile.com we set to work making our custard filling the night before. We have been watching a lot of the Great British Bake Off show, a lighthearted amateur baking contest. One of the big advantages of working at home is that we have a lot more time. Anyway, back to the custard. It is all cooked and then needs to be chilled before it is injected into the pastries. Did I mention that it is delicious?
The next day we set about making our choux, pronounced shoo, pastry dough. This very wet dough is piped onto baking sheets and when it bakes the moisture in the dough turns into steam and puffs the dough out. This leaves the inside semi-hollow and that is where you put the custard filling. We used a $1 piping kit from dollar tree to pipe the dough out. You could use a ziploc bag with a corner cut off. I did the first batch with a small tip (too small of a tip in hindsight).
Shae opted for no-tip with her batch and they came out to be just the right size. Here they are after coming out of the oven.
The recipe calls for using parchment paper, but parchment paper is quite expensive. We have ordered reusable silicone baking mats for the future. Some of our eclairs were a little burned from leaving them in too long. Oops!
Once the baked pastry has cooled down you need to inject them full of custard. Using a decorating tip, stab one or both ends and squeeze filling into the choux until it starts oozing out. Our custard was quite thick so this was a good hand workout.
Here comes the fun part, the decorating! We started by making up the chocolate ganache. That is a fancy way of saying heated up cream poured over chocolate chips and then melting and mixing the whole thing up to make a slowly hardening glaze. Working quickly, we dunked the top of each eclair into the ganache to coat it. Eventually the ganache will cool completely and re-solidify.
The last step is to add some white chocolate drizzle. The drizzle is simply white chocolate chips melted and drizzled on. They re-solidify once they cool. This seemingly simple step took me three tries! Argh!! I kept burning the chocolate in the melting process. Eventually I got a batch that was melted enough to decorate with but wasn’t burnt.
Tada! Eclairs are best eaten fresh. Otherwise stick them in the refrigerator. Ours tasted pretty good but wouldn’t win any bake offs. I learned a lot about chocolate and how best to pipe choux pastry onto a baking sheet. We also got to spend some quality time together as a family. Yes, Frugal Boy did plenty of taste testing. 🙂
Next week’s challenge: Baked Alaska