Choux pastry buns

choux-pastry-with-chocolate-cream

We woke up one grey morning and in an effort to brighten the day, decided to try our hands at making choux pastry. It’s a task that seemed really intimidating at first (think Eclairs) but is actually pretty straightforward to make. The ingredients are really simple and most likely things you would already have in your pantry if you bake often. The inside of choux pastry should be airy and moist, not wet and eggy. The great thing about these little puffs is that you can take one out of the oven (close to the time they are done , not before!) and check that they are just right inside. If not, you can keep them in the oven a little longer so they rise and dry out inside. Then leave them to cool a bit and fill with the cream of your choice- we did a simple chocolate whipped cream this time (whipping cream whipped up with a handwhisk and then stirred together with melted chocolate)

This recipe is taken from James Martin’s Sweet. Here are some of his tips for making choux pastry;

  1. Make sure butter , sugar and salt are brought to a boil slowly. The butter should not melt before the water evaporates. I basically just kept the heat very low over a small flame and stirred gently to help the butter dissolve.
  2. Dice the butter small- again to help it melt quicker
  3. Add half a cup of cold water to a preheated tray in the oven before cooking , this will make the texture crispy.
  4. 20 minutes into cooking , open the oven door to let the steam out.

The flavorbender has some great troubleshooting tips too.

Makes 18 medium choux pastry

Prep time : 20 mins      Bake time :

Ingredients

For the choux :

250ml water

100g cold butter diced small

1 tablespoon caster sugar

Pinch salt

150g strong flour

4 eggs

 

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius

Line a baking sheet with silicone paper or use a silicone mat

Place water , butter , sugar and salt in a pan and slowly bring to a boil over low heat. Once the mixture starts to boil, continue to let it boil for one minute.

Then add all the flour in at one go. Keep beating the mixture until it starts to thicken.Depending on the amount of heat, this could happen relatively quickly. The mixture should thicken , be smooth and come away fro the sides of the pan cleanly. This should take a few minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan and place it on the silicone sheet or mat to cool for 5 minutes.

You can use a kitchen mixture for the next step, but we did it by hand- beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure mixture is smooth after each addition. Then continue beating until smooth and shiny,resembling  a thick , smooth custard. If you pick some of the mixture up between your fingers, it should take 3-4 seconds to drip.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a large nozzle (plain or otherwise) with the mixture and pipe out small buns about 2 cm apart. You can smooth out bumps using a wet fingertip (the mixture should not stick to your finger).

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the buns are golden grown. Allow them to cool on a wire rack when done.

When cooled a bit, use a small knife to make a cut at the base of each bun.Insert a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle and filled with filling of your choice. Just pipe the filling into the bun , easy as that!

x Anu & Suba

 

 

 

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The Perfect Picnic: Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes

chocolate cupcakeThe most important lesson we’ve learned about picnic cakes is that they need to be relatively mess and melt proof, and easy to pack. Cupcakes with a fuss-free icing are our definite picnic default. In fact, ganache in particular sets quickly, so most of the icing will still be on the cake when you get to your destination!

Prep Time: 20-25 mins Cook time: 30-40 minutes

Makes about 12 cupcakes

Ingredients

The Cake:

1 cup/ 225g softened butter (unsalted)

1 cup/225g caster sugar

1 1/2 cups/180g self-raising flour

1/2 cup/65g good cocoa powder

3 medium eggs

2 tbsps milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Ganache:

70 g 90% cocoa chocolate (if you can only find 75% that’s fine too)

70g 40% cocoa chocolate

1/3 cup/ 100ml double cream

Method

Set the oven to 150 deg c . Grease your bakeware. We don’t use wrappers for this cupcake beause we dunk the top of the cupcake into the ganache and it looks messy if there’s a wrapper (all the ganache gets stuck onto it). We use silicone bakeware and even then prefer to grease it, but very lightly. Then we place the bakeware on a baking tray, ready to fill when the batter is ready.

Sift the flour and the cocoa powder together and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together until it’s pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate. If you notice some separation when you put in the third egg, don’t worry, just beat until it’s as incorporated as possible. Sometimes, if you happen to use slightly larger eggs this can happen. Add the vanilla extract. Once mixed in, add the flour and cocoa mix. Add half first and fold in and then add the other half and fold. Add the milk and gently mix in. Don’t beat it in as you want to be introducing air into the cake now.You want to be able to draw a number 8 through your batter with the back of your wooden spoon, and for the 8 to gradually fade. If it disappears immediately, it’s too watery, if it holds it’s shape and doesn’t start fading, it needs a little more milk.

Our aunt Rani is a fabulous baker and her tip is that you want to be able to draw a number 8 through your batter with the back of your wooden spoon, and for the 8 to gradually fade. If it disappears immediately, it’s too watery, add a bit more sifted flour (tablespoon by tablespoon to get the right consistency) if it holds it’s shape and doesn’t start fading, it needs a little more milk.

Fill the cupcake tin or cases until about 3/4 full. And then pop it in the oven for about 15 minutes and then rotate the tin or cases and bake another 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Rotating helps the tops of the cupcakes brown evenly.

Once done, set the tin or tray it on a wire rack to cool completely. Once they are cooled then make the ganache. Making it earlier will cause it to ‘set’ too much. Break up and melt the chocolate (both kinds) together in a bowl set over simmering water. Once melted, add the double cream and gently mix until well incorporated. (If the ganache sets halfway, just put the bowl over some boiling water so it loosens up again. Don’t pour any water in!)

Carefully pick up a cooled cupcake and dip the top of into the ganache. Make sure the whole top of the cake gets dunked in or you’ll get a patchy finish. As you lift it, twist clockwise, gently. This will prevent the ganache from dripping too much down the sides. We don’t mind the drip though, gives it a more home-made look! Repeat with all the cupcakes.

We used cake crumbs and chunks of chocolate to decorate but you can use anything really – chopped nuts, coloured sprinkles, chocolate buttons…then pack it carefully in a cake tin , box or tupperware for your picnic!

x Anu &Suba