Great British Bake Off: Eclairs

Episode 7: Pastry

Recipe (Showstopper Challenge): Eclairs

When I saw the challenge – I knew I had it in the bag. I could mail it in. I’ve made eclairs! Many times! I am a choux pastry master! No problem.

Guess what?

I ran into problems.

I had made it to this point at a frenetic pastry pace and to be honest – I was starting to make some mistakes and lose focus. And it all came to a head with this challenge. I whipped through the recipe (Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa) super fast, after all – I made made it probably a dozen times. Yet the dough just didn’t look quite right…I didn’t trust my gut instinct and put the into the oven anyway. And they did not come out puffed up and hollow. They were solid dough bricks.

I was disappointed with myself that I had tried to rush the process and not focus on what I had to do. I was disappointed in myself that I thought I could just coast through this challenge without really taking it seriously. I was also disappointed in myself that I let myself attempt this challenge when I was clearly mentally and physically fatigued.

I did a figurative whisk-drop and stepped away from the kitchen. I needed a break from all the baking I had done and committed myself to refocus. And that’s what I did. I did some research on what went wrong (too much liquid) and what I could do to mitigate it the next time. I got some sleep and the next week, I was ready.

It’s funny how a “passion” project can become “unpassionate” so quickly. It felt good to step out of the kitchen and get away from the pressure of the project. A project that had no ramifications on anyone except me! I can’t imagine how the competitors felt, doing all these challenges week in week out with no “breaks” allowed (unless they were eliminated). I think I took a couple of weeks off but when I took out the recipe again, I was ready.

Choux pastry is really easy to make. It’s actually cooked in a saucepan! It’s 1 cup of milk heated with 1/2 cup of butter. Then you add in 1 cup of flour and quickly mix it to form a dough, ensuring that all the flour has been incorporated and “cooked”. You then carefully add in 4 eggs, 1 at a time. Each egg add moisture and by the last egg, you get this gluey, shiny and elastic “batter”. The sweet spot is that it has to be fairly “soft” but still able to hold shape. My first batch was waaaay too runny.

You preheat your oven extra hot and when you’re about to put the pan in, you bring it down to about cooking temp. They are baked until they are nicely puffed and golden brown.

Here’s the recipe from Barefoot Contessa if you’re so inclined – it’s definitely worth it! http://barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx?RecipeID=440&S=0

Eclairs Choux PastryPiped eclair or ‘choux’ pastry ready to be baked.

IMG_3656Puffed up and ready to be filled!

IMG_3659Both were glazed with a chocolate ganache. For fillings I did a blackberry cream and a chocolate-nutella.

IMG_3669IMG_3670
Overall: 8/10 – not quite crunchy enough but points for coming back strong!

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Categories: cream puff, failure, Great British Bake Off

Author:bainvancouver

Communications specialist by day, baker/cook/triathlete/dog-owner by night. I blog about my adventures inside and outside my kitchen. Come take a look - no big whoop!

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