If you live in France, there’s nothing better than an after school snack, straight from the boulangerie. A pain au chocolat or a handful of still-warm chouquettes (choux pastry puffs studded with pearl sugar)… Since we don’t live in France, the next best thing might be an after school snack that you make yourself, right? I’ve long wanted to make croissants and pain au chocolat with Les Petits Chefs, my after-school cooking club for boys, but one hour simply does not allow for this but from experience, I know we can absolutely make choux pastry in one hour. Tomorrow on the blog, I am reveiwing a gorgeous cookbook, Pâtisserie Made Simple by Edd Kimber and as I working on my review, I spied the chouquettes (already marked with a sticky note) and figured what better test of a recipe than a dozen or so boys under 13 making it in under an hour…
I have been following Edd’s blog for years now, even before he won The Great British Bake Off and wrote three books (!) and had the pleasure of meeting him in Paris last year and again in London this summer. He is as charming as you would expect someone who writes exquisite baking books would be, but so down to earth. Also, he’s always up for some pastry tasting 😉 When Edd suggests meeting for breakfast, this is what happens:
Yup, you get to order a little bit of everything. It’s “research”.
I remember looking at the proofs of this book on Edd’s iPad and thought it was beautiful even then. But when it arrived late last year (I couldn’t wait for the US release this week!), it’s even more gorgeous than you can imagine…
I’ve actually already made Edd’s “rough puff” pastry with the boys and it was a huge success. The boys were fascinated with the fact that *I* know the author “in real life and everything” and I guess love the idea of a real person being behind a cookbook (especially one who has won a baking show on TV!). I also happen to know they love making choux pastry – we made Jamie Oliver’s profiteroles last Christmas and they were a bit hit too. I like the idea of showing the boys the versatility of many pastry recipes and choux is an excellent example because it can be used for both sweet or savoury variations – it can be very simple, like chouquettes or fancier and a little more complex like an éclair.
The actual base recipe is very simple, actually. We took it step-by-step as I explained each ingredient addition. After melting butter with sugar, salt and water, we added flour and stirred hard until it looked like mashed potato:
Then we got to piping:
And then we waited
not-so patiently while they baked… During this time we talked the boys through the recipe again and I am confident they would all be able to make this on their own. Hopefully some of them do.
From Patissere Made Simple by Edd Kimber, published by Kyle Books, priced $24.95. Used here with permission.
- 2 ounces ( 1/2 stick / 60g) unsalted butter, diced into small pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
- 2/3 cup / 85g all-purpose flour
- 2 to 3 extra-large eggs, plus 1 for eggwash
- Pearl sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Put the butter, salt, sugar, and ½ cup / 120ml water in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and the mixture is at a rolling boil, add the flour and immediately stir together with a wooden spoon form a rough paste.
- With the pan still on the heat, beat vigorously for 2 minutes, then transfer the dough into a bowl and beat for a few minutes more until it stops steaming. This dries the dough out, which helps it to absorb more egg, which in turn helps the choux pastry to expand properly as it bakes.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully absorbed before adding the next. Depending on the flour used and how much water evaporated as you made the dough, the choux pastry will need varying amounts of egg, so the above is given as a guide. I usually add two eggs and then very slowly start adding the remaining egg, checking the texture of the dough after each addition. You are looking for a dough that has a shine, and when it is lifted from the bowl it should fall from the spatula in a ribbon that forms a V-shape. If the dough doesn’t have enough egg, it won’t expand properly and will be prone to cracking as it bakes; if there is too much egg, the dough won’t hold its shape and will collapse as it bakes.
- Put the finished dough into a piping bag fitted with a ⅜-inch plain round tip, and pipe into rounds on the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch in diameter.
- Lightly beat the remaining egg to create an eggwash and use to lightly brush the rounds of dough. Sprinkle liberally with the pearl sugar and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.
- Turn off the oven and allow the chouquettes to cool in the oven for 20 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. As with all choux pastry recipes, these are really best on the day they are made, but they will still be very enjoyable the day after, although just a little softer.
- Store in an airtight container.
I wonder how many of these actually made it home? Aren’t they great?
Check out the book trailer for Pâtisserie Made Simple here.
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Check back tomorrow for my full review of Pâtisserie Made Simple and a chance to win a copy!