Friday, January 21, 2011

Do Not Open the Oven...Repeat...Do Not...

There are certain things one must do before thy die. One for me, is making croissants, which will be one of my 2011 challenges. I only just scraped in with my 2010 cooking challenge, with Christmas as an excuse. Everything I make is an experiment of some sort, and this was no exception. I don't like stressful, fussy cooking, and although I managed to create the Christmas Crocumbouche from scratch, I had kittens in the process. Delicious though it was, and spectacular though it looked, and though I received many compliments, it only just made up for the grey hairs I received. I contemplated cheating at one stage, almost sneaking down to the store to buy fat profiteroles to stack, and thread to sew my lips up with so no one would know.
Why the stress? Choux pastry has long been a nightmare to me, after failing to produce fat puffs of deliciousness after trying a Gordon Ramsay recipe for profiteroles. He would have sworn his head off at me, so I'm glad no one was there to witness a humiliating failure.
I dont know how many batches of choux I made this time. Most of the profiteroles turned out beautifully, but it wasnt all roses as some remained flat and damp, as I made the mistake of opening the oven to look at them. I couldn't help myself, I just had to have a break in my pacing to see if they had risen!
I discovered, at the end, that piping the uncooked choux pastry gets much better results than spooning the mixture, and the firmer the mixture the better.
The patisserie was amazing though and I enjoyed pumping those babies full of deliciousness, drenching them with chocolate and decorating with gold beads and ribbon. Ah! 'Tis done!


80ml (1/3 cup) water
40g butter, at room temperature, cubed
50g (1/3 cup) plain flour, sifted
2 eggs, at room temperature
Vegetable oil, to grease

Place water and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until butter melts and mixture just comes to the boil. Add all the flour to the butter mixture at once and use a wooden spoon to beat until well combined. Place over low heat and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture forms a ball and begins to come away from the side of the saucepan. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Whisk 1 egg in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl, then add it to the flour mixture, beating well with a wooden spoon. Gradually add a little of the reserved egg and beat until the mixture just falls from the spoon but still holds its shape. Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush a baking tray with oil to lightly grease. Spoon 10-15 spoonsful of the mixture onto tray, about 3cm apart. Alternatively, use a pastry bag fitted with a 1.5cm-diameter plain piping nozzle to pipe the profiteroles onto the baking tray.

Brush the tops with a little of the remaining egg. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the profiteroles are puffed and golden. Remove from oven and turn the oven off. Using a skewer or a small knife, pierce the base (or top) of each profiterole to release the steam. Return the profiteroles to the oven and leave them for 15 minutes to dry out. Remove the profiteroles from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.



2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
40g butter, room temperature

Boil milk. In a separate saucepan, combine yolks, sugar and cornstarch and whisk on low. Once the milk has boiled, add a few spoons to the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and gradually add the rest of the milk. If scrambled particles form, strain. Place saucepan over medium heat and whisk vigorously until the mixture begins to boil and thicken. Continue for 1-2 minutes, stirring.
Scrape into a small bowl and set over ice. Stir occasionally.
Once slightly cool, add butter in 3-4 installments. Use immediately or cover and refrigerated for 2-3 days.



Finished Product. PHEW!

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