This week the lesson was not only Choux & Sweet Pastry but also decoration of the finished products. Once upon a time Choux Pastry was my friend, I could turn out the puffiest profiteroles, but now it seems they are my nemesis, or at least the piping of them. I need to go back and find the Vogue recipe I used ‘way back when’ to see if there was a trick I can’t recall (probably not). Today’s effort wasn’t too bad but quite frankly my eclair piping was tragic! Today we made 6 eclairs, 6 profiteroles and 6 fruit tartlets, with creme patisserie and various glazes and icings, and the class went so quickly.
A few of us always get to the kitchen early, around 7.15am, and we use the time for our mise en place. Apart from getting all my utensils out, setting up my work area and collecting all the saucepans, pots, & bowls which were required for class, I also set up 3 trays for the ingredients, 1 for Choux Pastry, 1 for Sweet Pastry and 1 for the Creme Patisserie. It just makes it easier to have all the ingredients for each recipe together.
As the pastry for the fruit tartlets had to be rested twice, making the pastry was the first task we tackled. Unfortunately I was unable to use a stand mixer in the class as the power at my workstation was not working, so everything I made was done the old way, by hand. Luckily I usually make Pate’ Sucre by hand, so it wasn’t a big issue.
Pastry made and in the fridge, I turned my attention to the Choux Pastry. Chef informed us that there are three quality points regarding choux, (I actually think there are four, as terrible piping can ruin the end product), 1. not cooking out the flour, 2. adding the eggs too early and 3. having the oven at the wrong temperature. Generally the oven is 190c but chef cranked it to 200c as he wanted them very crisp. It is important to add the eggs to the panada (mixture of water, salt, butter and flour) one at a time & only when the mixture is a temperature between 40 and 50c. To assist in dropping the temperature, move the mixture to a cold bowl you’ve pre-chilled in the fridge. Once the eggs have been added and the mixture is at ‘drop’ stage, you can fill the piping bag and pipe the mixture as desired. As you can see, we used templates under the baking paper to ensure consistency in size of the end product. Bake in the oven for @ 40 mins until firm, cool on a rack and decorate as desired.
The Creme Patisserie took no time to make and it was a good recipe which I will be adding to my favourites (recipe below). As we needed enough for 12 choux pastries and 6 tartlets, we made quite a lot. There is no plain flour in the recipe only cornflour and I think it made a big difference to the end product. A few quality points to observe are; ensure your saucepan is clean, when stirring the mixture get right into the edges & keep an eye on it as it is quick to ‘burn’ at the edges. Also, ensure the mixture is cooled slightly before adding the softened butter and when storing in fridge to cool down, ensure the cling film is touching the surface to avoid a skin to form.
The fruit tartlets were the last item of the day (recipe below). We used the ‘cream’ method rather than the ‘rub in’ method to make the pastry, either will produce a nice one. Some of the tips that Chef shared with us were; don’t handle the dough too much once the flour is added, be quick & gentle and move it to the fridge to relax the gluten…over working it will make the pastry tough. Placing the pastry between two pieces of clingfilm when rolling out will avoid it sticking to the work surface (at home I use a marble slab which does the trick). Always roll the pastry in various directions, this combats shrinkage. Finally, if possible, only use ‘virgin pastry’, pastry which has been rolled and cut only once, when making your tarts as this too will reduce shrinkage. All in all the tartlets turned out well.
Next week the focus will be Puff and Shortcrust Pastry, Mini Apple & Frangipane Jalousie, Salmon, Cherry Tomato and Dill Tartlets and Chicken, Mushroom and Leek Pies (yeah – savory 😊). I hope you pop back to see how it’s all going and leave me a comment if you like.
Glazed Fruit Tartlets
Crisp sweet pastry tart shells filled with Creme Patisserie and topped with glazed fruit. A lovely sweet treat to share for morning or afternoon tea or as desert after a light lunch.
- 125 gm Butter, unsalted
- 75 gm Castor sugar
- 1 Egg
- 5 ml Vanilla essence
- 250 gm Plain flour
- 250 gm Milk, full cream
- 1/2 Vanilla pod
- 2 Eggs
- 125 gm Sugar, castor/super fine
- 35 gm Cornflour
- 30 gm Butter, unsalted
- 6 Strawberries, cut
- 1 Kiwi fruit, peeled and cut
- 12 segments Mandarin, tinned
- 6 Apricots, tinned – halved or sliced
- 12 Grapes, black
- 100 gm Apricot conserve/jam
- 25 gm Water
Make the pastry: Blend the softened butter and sugar thoroughly. Gradually add the egg and vanilla essence. Fold in the sifted flour but don’t over work. Form into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge at least an hour.
Make the Cream Patisserie: Heat the milk with half the sugar and the vanilla pod. In a bowl combine the eggs, sugar and corn flour. Pour the milk gradually to the egg mixture, mix well and return to a slightly wet saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook for two minutes stirring continuously (be careful not to let it burn at the edges). Add the butter to the slightly cooled mixture. Pour into another bowl/container and cover with clingfilm to prevent a skin forming.
Make the tart cases: Lightly grease 6 individual tart shells. Roll out the pastry to a an even thickness of 2mm. Line the tart shells with the sweet pastry. Rest the tart cases in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Bake the tart cases: Dock the bases of the tarts & blind bake the tart cases (using baking paper and baking beans/rice) at 190C until the pastry is cooked to light brown, approx. 40 minutes. Remove the blind baking beans and if bases aren’t fully cooked, put them back in the oven for a few minutes.
Fill the tart cases: Using a piping bag, pipe the creme patisserie into the base of the cooled shells. Decorate with the cut fruit and, using a pastry brush, lightly glaze the fruit with the heated apricot jam and water.