Les Religieuse Fraise

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RECIPE: I always go back to William and Suzue Curley’s Pâtisserie when I’m making a base pastry because their instructions are so clear and failsafe. To treat myself for my birthday I made my favourite pastry, Les Religieuse (two choux buns, one on top of the other) and filled it with a strawberry cheesecake filling. I made a standard pâte à choux topped with craquelin, filled the buns with the strawberry cheesecake filling, then finished with creme au beurre. I was going to add fondant, but I liked the look of them as they were. I made a small change to the recipe for the strawberry filling, mixing the strawberry jam into the cheesecake mixture, rather than injecting strawberry jam separately into the buns.

COMPONENTS: Good luck with the choux! The things to watch are cooking the dough for long enough in the saucepan being very sure that it is pulling away easily from the sides. The next is the consistency of the dough when it drops off your spatula. It should drop off and leave a v-shape of dough on the end of the spatula. Finally, don’t even begin to think about opening the oven before the choux buns have cooked for at least 15 minutes. If you’re worried about your old oven that burns things on the bottom, put an extra tray or two below the buns to improve the insulation. Use a light to check whether the buns have started to brown on the bottom – it’s usually a good indication the door’s been closed long enough. The tops take much longer to brown. Keep a close eye on them if you haven’t tried them in your oven before. The craquelin needs to be firm when you take it out of the fridge, so you can cut circles easily. The filling was very easy. Have the creamed cheese at room temperature, otherwise you’ll get a lumpy mix. If you take your whipped cream too far, a small amount of unwhipped cream can be stirred through to bring it back. I added in the strawberry jam to the filling, but you might choose to pipe in some strawberry jam separately to the cheesecake mix. My creme au beurre was very yellow so I added some drops of titanium liquid that lightens the colour (just my personal preference).

ASSEMBLY: I used a chopstick to poke holes into gaps in the craquelin on my large choux buns so I didn’t damage them, then piped in the filling. Don’t worry if some of the smaller ones look a bit dome shaped before you fill them – the filling rounds out the shape. I kept filling until it was about to pop out the hole. Go gently, you might discover that some of the filling comes out of cracks or holes you didn’t know were there! The creme au beurre needs to be at room temperature so it pipes easily, but not so warm that it doesn’t hold its shape once piped. Your hands may warm it up too much, so work quickly. It sets quickly when chilled.

IMPRESSION: Yummo. Perfect birthday treat. The strawberry flavour of the filling wasn’t strong – it’s a very hard flavour to emphasise, but it was present and enjoyable. The creme au beurre was very buttery (unsurprisingly); I think I’d prefer a buttercream. I was very happy with how they looked 🙂

Recipe for strawberry cheesecake filling from Foodie CrushRecipe for pâte à choux, craquelin and creme au beurre from Pâtisserie by William and Suzue Curley.

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Les Religieuse Fraise

Craquelin
80g (3oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
90g (3.25oz) caster sugar
75g (2.75oz) unsalted butter

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and butter and rub together until the mixture forms a dough – you can also use a food processor for this. Roll the dough between 2 sheets of silicone baking paper to about 3mm thick, then chill for 30 minutes.

Pâte à choux
Makes 8 large and 8 small buns

125ml (4fl oz) water
125ml (4fl oz) whole milk
125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, cubed
12g (0.25oz) caster sugar
162g (5.5oz) plain flour, sifted
2g (1/4 tsp) salt
250g (9oz) whole eggs (about 5), beaten

Heat the water, milk, butter and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Take the pan off the heat and add the sifted flour and salt. Use a spatula to stir until completely combined. Return the pan to the hob, set to a low heat and stir continuously with a spatula until the dough leaves the sides of the pan. Take off the heat, transfer the dough to a mixing bowl and blend with a paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes until the dough has cooled to a lukewarm temperature. Gradually add the eggs into the dough, being careful to add them slowly towards the end in case you don’t need the whole quantity. Beat until smooth and glossy. The consistency should be neither too soft nor too hard; it should drop off the paddle or a spoon leaving a smooth ‘v’ shape.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius (400F) and line two baking sheets with non-stick baking mats (Silpat is good). Cut the chilled craquelin dough into eight 4.5cm discs and eight 2cm discs. Spoon the choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a 10mm piping tip. Pipe eight 5cm bulbs on one tray and top with the larger craquelin discs. Pipe eight 2.5cm bulbs on the other tray, top with the smaller discs. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 180 degrees Celsius (350F) and continue to cook for another 6-8 minutes. Remove the small choux buns and continue to cook the large choux buns for another 8-10 minutes. It’s very important that the oven is not opened until the pastry has browned, as opening it will allow steam to escape and the pastry will lose its air. Remove from the oven, poking a hole in the top of each large bun and the bottom of the small bun to allow the steam to escape, and place on a rack to cool.

Strawberry cheesecake filling (US)
240ml (1 cup) heavy cream (35%)
225g (8oz) cream cheese softened
35g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
160g (1/2 cup) strawberry jam
Powdered sugar for dusting

Place cream in a large bowl. Beat at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla in a separate medium bowl. Beat until smooth. Gently fold in the whipped cream, then the jam.

Crème au Beurre
50g (1.75oz) caster sugar
15ml (1/2 fl oz) water
30g (1oz) egg yolks (about 1.5 eggs)
112g (4oz) unsalted butter, softened

Put the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer. Put the caster sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to the boil and heat to 121 degrees Celsius (250F). When the sugar syrup is nearly to temperature, begin to whisk the egg yolks. Once the egg yolks are lightened in colour, slowly pour the hot syrup into the sabayon and whisk until it’s thick and cool. Gradually add the softened butter while still whisking. When all the butter has been incorporated, continue to beat until light and aerated. Use immediately.

Assembly

Place the strawberry filling into a piping bag with no more than a 5mm tip. Fill the buns through the holes you made earlier until full. Put a dob of crème au beurre on top of the large bun and sit the smaller bun on top. Use a small star nozzle to pipe the the crème au beurre around the gap between the two buns. You can add a rosette on top.

Best served the same day.

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