January 2, 2010
Birthday wishes for Nic (plus a croquenbouche)
The second of January is Nic's birthday. He has finally passed the line of being closer to 40 than 30- that is how I see it and because I already have a year of experience, that is what I am telling him!
Nic flies off to Italy tomorrow for three weeks so I wanted to make an extra special cake to make sure he WANTS to come back (seriously I know how he feels about pastries and cream!). I thought I'd revisit one of my most accomplished desserts when I was an apprentice. Choux pastry was by far the best for me. It was the only pastry I didn't stuff up and had to make and remake until I got it right all those years ago. With that memory off I ventured.....
What a fool I am to think I could just 'whip' up a batch of profiteroles. I am hear to tell you third time is a charm!! That's right, my first attempt was a let down in more ways than one (see above photo), second time was a touch better but still the 'flat' theme was shining through- not happy!
It was at this stage I phoned a friend....actually my business partner and asked him what I was doing wrong. He couldn't put his finger on it so I decided to read yet another recipe for choux pastry and see if there were any differences. More info in recipe number 3, however, I wasn't at all confident with the measurements so I decided to stick with my original recipe (it was from my Tafe book after all) but use a different method.
After, beating, whipping and leaving out an egg I popped the mixture in the oven, turned off the oven light (I did not want to see my last attempt fall flat before my eyes) and set my timer with an extra 5 minutes on the clock.
From the photo above you can work out that I was finally happy with the end result. I had 'puff' and beautifully browned profiteroles, I cannot tell you how happy I was to have a result. The boys all took off to the park due to my efforts taking up half the day, so to make it up to the family I made a yummy brandy custard to fill the puffs and then did the good old toffee tops. I was thinking chocolate (would of been better for me as I always burn myself on toffee and today was no exception), however the humidity was thick and heavy so we would of been waiting a long time for the chocolate to set.
The cake was a total success, I even spun some OK sugar to pop on top. Nic managed to polish off quite a few puffs as did Max, but Alex was feeling far too sad that daddy is leaving tomorrow :0(
Now I have to clean up all the sugar/toffee I have thrown around the kitchen (another reason why people don't make these things at home!). Below is the recipe that worked for me, if you have one that is a no brainer then please let me know, otherwise this one is a hit!
Note: After reading the recipe to write down I have just now realised where I stuffed up!
I added 1/4 CUP of water instead 1/4 litre (or 1/2pt)
Ok, I really must not drink bubbly throughout the day one thinks.....
Choux pastry (with a 1/4 cup of water)
1/4 cup water
100g (4oz) butter
pinch of salt and sugar
125g (5oz) flour, sieved
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Bring water, butter, salt and sugar to boil on medium heat (melt butter before boiling point)
Remove from heat and quickly add flour then return to a medium heat and beating out the lumps with a wooden spoon.
Once it pulls away from sides of pan and forms a ball remove from heat, cool for 1-2 minutes then gradually add adds, beating rapidly for a great puff.
The consistency should be at a thick dropping consistency.
Pipe onto tray, cook in a preheated oven (200) for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, poke a hole in bottom with a skewer to release hot air, cool then fill with cream or custard.