Saturday 4 February 2017

Lesson 12: Pâte à Choux / Tarte Chouquettes

Some careful planning to be able to cook this on a very busy Saturday.  Made the cinnamon pastry and the pastry cream the night before, the choux pastry in the morning then the rest in the afternoon.

First off the pastry cream.  First time making this, and the result was pretty good.  The vanilla seeds were quite visible in the result, but it tasted good.

First attempt at the choux pastry failed - the mixture wasn't hot enough.  The butter had melted, but it hadn't started to simmer, and it never got thicker.  For the second go I read around on other websites about making choux pastry.  I made sure the mixture was properly simmering, and had the flour sifted onto a folded sheet of greaseproof paper.  With one had holding the hand electric whisk I was able to turn the heat off, then start whisking and added the flour in one go right away.  It thickened up straight away so needed very little whisking.

I used a piping bag and a tip that was advertised as 'size 8'  but had an opening of 12mm in diameter.  It just about made 32, and some of the puffs ended up too big.  I also made a big mess spooning the mixture into the bag, for the pastry cream and whipped cream I put the bag in a pint glass which worked a lot better.  Still, they looked about right at this point...

After cooking - miraculously they all rose and looked amazing!  Some were a bit big, and they perhaps could have had more egg glaze on.  I cut holes in the bottoms with a knife, then cooked them upside down for another couple of minutes, then stored in a box for the day.  They were still fairly crisp later in the day, but the next day they definitely would have needed heating up again.

Now to make the bases.  I was using a 10cm diameter cutter, with rings that were 8cm internal diameter, the sizing worked really well.  I was left with very little wasted pastry, and some of the bases were too thick, so aim to waste a bit more...

All in the rings, they were advertised as crumpet rings on amazon, but they were the right diameter.  Not sure whether they should have been taller, but there was enough depth after cooking.

The sides had shrunk down during cooking, and the bases had risen up - I'd given another fork hole when cooking.  In the end it didn't matter too much that they were a bit curved up.

And finally the finished plates. Given the puffs were a bit big, the larger ones ended up being not much smaller than the bases, so one half I put a single puff ball on the base with cream around the sides.  The other bases had two puffs on.  All in all, I only had enough pastry cream to squirt some into 20 puff balls after filling the bases.  Even though the balls were big I was only putting a bit into each one, but clearly even this was too much given it should have stretched to 32, or I could have over-filled the bases.

They all disappeared, although some of the bases were left uneaten.

Things for next time

  • Heat up the water/butter to simmering before adding the flour
  • Don't make the pastry too thick in the bases
  • Better holes in the bottom of each pastry base before cooking
  • Fill piping bags inside a pint glass
  • Make sure the balls are really quite small when piped onto the baking tray
  • Don't over-whip the whipping cream
  • Only need to melt about half the chocolate.  Using the back of a desert spoon worked well for drizzling the chocolate.

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