French long johns
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Today, we made éclairs with a coffee crème pâtissière filling (pastry cream or Hunt’s vanilla pudding made from scratch) and a coffee fondant glaze. The french equivalent of a long john. I just realized I haven’t seen a donut in Paris yet.

Making éclairs made me miss those old fashion glazed timbits I used to eat during my coffee breaks to Tim Hortons. It’s the only thing I ever liked from Tim Hortons. There’s something about that subtle taste of all spice, the cake-y texture, and thin coat of glaze that make those particular timbits perfect, especially with coffee.

But back to éclairs. Don’t be fooled by it’s simplistic look, it’s quite a finicky pastry to make.

Ingredients for pâte à choux (pastry dough for profiteroles or cream puffs). We bring the sugar, salt, butter and water to a boil, add the flour and stir vigorously for about 3 minutes (drying dough) until you get a ball of dough and a thin transparent film forms on the bottom of your pot. Add the eggs slowly until the right consistency is reached and stop. It's important to dry your dough enough so that you can add more eggs, which will mean a lighter and puffier éclair.

Chef made everyone re-pipe their pâte à choux dough until we had uniform logs that were of correct width and size. It actually got harder the more times you had to do it because the dough became thicker and would stick to your piping tip. This was my third attempt. Chef was finally pleased and said I could butter and bake!

Look at the logs rise in the oven! After 5 minuts of baking, we continued to bake with the oven door opened just a tad bit so that the steam could escape. Allowing the steam to escape will prevent your éclairs from having a cracked surface. For profiteroles or cream puffs, I actually like them cracked, adds a bit of character to them.

My éclairs ready for filling.

The innards of my éclairs. One of them stuck to the pan so I ate it. It was not that exciting, not too different from the ones I've made in the past.

I still need to work on making my products more uniform.

To fill the éclairs, we begin by poking 3 holes with a small piping tip. Poor guys!

Then we take a medium sized piping tip (#10), and pipe in each hole until your crème pâtissière (pastry cream) starts to ooze out of the other holes. This way, you ensure that your éclair is packed full with delicious filling. I thought this part was quite fun. We also made the coffee crème pâtissière.

After piping, we use a spatula to remove the excess pastry cream.

Then we covered éclairs in a glaze made of french fondant (sugar, water, little glucose) mixed with coffee and caramel extract. To get an even, clean coat of glaze, we had to make sure the fondant was at 36°C. Right after you lift your éclair out of the fondant, you immediately wipe off the excess with your finger and use another finger to wipe around the edge of the glaze to give it a clean finish. It's a really messy job (for beginners) and I had to rinse my hands constantly.

At the end of class, Chef opened a box with a gift for each of us, heat resistant spatulas!!! It was really funny how excited we all were. Chef has been borrowing our spatulas and burning or melting them because the ones in our tool kits were not meant to be heated. Aren't you glad you haven't been eating my pastries until now?

Tomorrow, we get to have our first oenology class at 10am. Yes, I’ll be drinking at 10am for 3 hours! Then, we’ll be making more pâte à choux until we get sick of it, just like the tarts, and mille-feuille… fun!

One Glorious Comment
  • Mark
    October 31, 2012
    Hi, are you able to share the baking temperature and time for the eclairs?