Saturday, 2 January 2010
The Less Said about The Brest, The Better
The praline was a piece of cake - toast some finely ground almonds (6 tbspoons) til golden and fragrant and set aside. In a heavy based saucepan place 3tbspoons of water, half a cup of sugar, and a tspoon of vanilla extract and make a caramel. Mix them together and spread on a baking tray (oiled, or lined with trusty greaseproof) until cold and set. Then whizz it up in the food processor or tackle it in the mortar and pestle (which is what I did, too lazy to take the food processor out of the cupboard) until you have a fine powder. EASY PEASY.
Even the pastry cream was easy - 1 cup of milk in a saucepan along with 1 tspoon vanilla extract - heat, but don't boil. Meanwhile, beat 2 egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy, and then beat in 2 tbspoons of plain flour and 2 tbspoons of corn flour. Then gradual whisk in the hot milk and return to the stove (low heat, please!!) and whisk whisk whisk until thick and delicious. Then throw in the praline and mix it all up (I just put it all back in the kitchenaid <3) and set aside til cool (p.s. rub the top with butter to stop it forming a skin??? I tried this and ended up with custardy fingers...)
Once the pastry cream has cooled down, it's simply a matter of returning it to the mixing bowl and whisking in a tbspoon of rum, and then gradually encorporating TEN tablespoons of softened butter. Mmmmmm creamy. For the record, this praline cream filling was so delicious, it's lucky it filled ANYTHING apart from my boyf's tummy. I've never heard just pleading to lick the bowl please.
So, the part where I failed... or, my oven failed me (nothing like passing the blame): The Choux "Crown".
The choux pastry itself was easy enough to make. People seem to get their knickers in a knot over choux (hello crochembouche challenge on masterchef) but making choux buns and eclairs etc is not that difficult, even with an arsehole oven like mine. But the "crown" or pastry ring was just not working for me. CHOUX FAIL. I got hardly any rising at all. Then end result was super flat but still quite crunchy and delicious.... just not puffy. Boo. Here is how it's done anyway, in case you want to try it yourself in your oven that isn't a jerk (I have a shitty gas electrolux thing, probably a kazillion years old - the amount of swearing I did yesterday has resulted in my lovely boyf promising me I can have a new oven ASAP thanks... ILVE, yes please.)
Preheat your oven to 200 celcius (or 400 fahrenheit). Bring 1 cup water, 7 tbspoons of butter, a pinch of salt, and 2 tbspoons of sugar to the boil. Take off the heat and sift in 1 1/3 cups of plain flour and mix well til combined. Return to a low heat and continue beating with your wooden spoon until the dough comes completely together, and leaves the sides and bottom of the saucepan. You need to give it a good flogging with your wooden spoon to work the gluten which will make it puff nicely (if your oven is kind). Transfer the dough into a mixing bowl (or kitchenaid etc) and gradually add 4 eggs - 1 at a time, mixing in completely between each egg. After the forth egg your batter should be glossy and dribble slowly off your beaters. Then transfer into a pastry bag with a large round tip.
So, you need a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, and if you're not good at free-handing, trace on a circle about 20-25cm in diameter. Pipe a circle of dough approx 2cm wide onto the baking sheet. Then pipe another just inside and touching the first. Brush both with some beaten egg, then pipe another on top of the first two. Brush the whole lot with egg wash, and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bake at 200 for 10 minutes (DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR) and then turn the oven down to 180 and continue to bake until the pastry is "well risen" and golden in colour, which will take around 15-20 mins longer. In my case it went golden, but not "well risen" at all. Slightly risen, yes.
So then you let it cool, slice it open, and pipe in your pastry cream, with a star tip nozzle if you're feeling fancy and dust with icing sugar. The picture at the top is what it should look like, all golden and puffy and delicious. (but I won't show you what mine looked like because it was sad).
To make it up to you, and ME, I'm making eclairs this afternoon and will provide photographic evidence that I, ChouxGirl, can actually make a decent choux.
Posted by Gem at 18:39