Choux au Craquelin

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RECIPE: My aim was to attempt choux pastry, which meant that I dissected the pear and apple choux recipe for the parts I wanted, namely the choux buns and the crackle finish. I filled it with a basic crème pâtissiére from the croquembouche recipe in the same book. I didn’t have gel colour, so substituted liquid colour. This added more liquid to the recipe, but it didn’t seem to ruin it. I used leftover banana creme to assemble the little lady 🙂

COMPONENTS: First job is the crème pâtissiére, as it needs to cool for a few hours before use. Having curdled custard many times, I stirred this like crazy, not stopping for a second. I didn’t cook it as long as the recipe required because it became thick very fast and I was scared of overcooking it, as it had SOOO many egg yolks in it. I froze the egg whites, as they can still be used in meringues after being frozen. It was a big relief to store my perfect custard in the fridge, ready to add later. The trick with the craquelin is to roll it to the thickness you need at the end before putting it in the fridge to cool. It doesn’t hold together too well when you’re assembling the buns but it didn’t seem to matter that I wasn’t applying perfect discs of even thickness.

I’m not sure how, but my choux pastry worked first time. I liked the tip that it was ready when a spoon will stand in the mix. I piped the choux dough onto the tray and used the method of cooking at high heat initially then reducing the heat of the oven to finish. Baking the choux didn’t go quite so well. There is a reason recipes tell you NOT to open the oven door while the pastry is cooking. I couldn’t resist on one batch because I was worried my old dysfunctional oven was burning the ones at the back. The result can be seen below. The bun on the left was cooked according to instructions; the one on the right was when I opened the oven during the bake!

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Rather than spend a lot of time explaining how to perfect your choux pastry, I suggest you read this page by Dini the Flavor Bender – she does an excellent job.

ASSEMBLY: About three-quarters of my choux buns weren’t flat and were suitable for filling. The craquelin worked well. I put the crème pâtissiére in a piping bag but didn’t have a good-sized nozzle. The one I used put a bigger hole in the bottom than ideal. It piped perfectly, with the custard helping to fill out some of the buns that had collapsed. I used the banana cream to stick the two buns together and then used a star nozzle to pipe some as decoration around the join.

IMPRESSION: I’ve still got work to do with choux pastry, but I’m pretty happy with how most of these turned out. I only had enough suitable buns to make about four little ladies, the rest had visual faults of some sort. They still tasted marvellous.

Recipe from Zumbo by Adriano Zumbo

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