Growing up one of my favourite subjects in school when about 10 years old was home economics.
It was a chance to learn new skills and have some fun with fellow classmates. I buddied up with my best friend, Sally, and together we often had a bunch of laughs while trying to be the class know-it-alls when it came to cooking. Once I remember we had a disaster when attempting scrambled eggs.
Yes you’d imagine that making scrambled eggs was the easiest of meals to make… well it was until we had to add a little pepper into the egg mixture. The whole top of the pepper shaker came away and the entire contents tipped into our beaten egg mixture. A disaster. Especially since we had to bring raw eggs into school ourselves as it wasn’t provided for by the school. That was a lot of nurturing to ensure our precious eggs didn’t break. Lots of giggles were had by us and others in the class that day.
One class we learned how to make choux pastry. From all the pastries to make, it’s definitely one of the easiest. However, the wrong percentage of ingredients can result in flat and rather unappetising pastry cases when baked. Measuring out the ingredients is essential.
Once mastered, you can use choux pastry to make profiteroles, cream puffs or eclairs.
Choux Pastry – beating the eggs into the choux ball takes a bit of arm strength. Be patient – it will mix together.
Choux Pastry – If you haven’t got a proper piping bag, you can always use a ziplock bag to pipe the pastry onto greaseproof paper.
Choux Pastry – cases ready to be filled with either whipped cream or vanilla cream.
From all the pastries to make, it’s definitely one of the easiest. However, the wrong percentage of ingredients can result in flat and rather unappetising pastry cases when baked. Measuring out the ingredients is essential. Once mastered, you can use choux pastry to make profiteroles, cream puffs or eclairs.
- Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius.Place the butter and the water in a saucepan. Bring the water to the boil and stir until the butter has melted.
- Remove from the stove and stir in the sifted flour. Add the flour all at once. Beat until smooth.
- Return to the heat, and stir vigourously until the mixture leaves the sides of the saucepan and forms a smooth ball. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
- Whisk the eggs well and then add them to the choux ball. Beat the eggs into the mixture.
- Use a piping bag to pipe 7-10 cm lengths for eclairs or 4cm round balls for cream puffs or profiteroles. Alternatively, place spoonfuls onto greased cookie trays.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 200°C and continue to cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Turn the oven off. Remove from the oven and immediately make a small slit in the side of each puff to allow the steam to escape.
- Return to the oven for a few minutes to help dry them out. The oven has already been turned off.
- If you don’t have a proper piping bag, use a ziplock bag with one corner cut diagonally. This works well.
- Pastry can be frozen after being baked and cooled down. Once defrosted, return to the oven to crisp if required. Unfilled pastries can be frozen for up to two months.
- For eclairs top with chocolate and fill with cream.
- For profiteroles top with chocolate and fill with custard or vanilla cream. A quick creamy profiterole filling is to mix a packet of powdered dessert vanilla pudding mix with thickened cream (just use a balloon whisk) – I often add less cream than the volume of liquid stated on the pudding mix packet to ensure it’s super thick and creamy.
- For cream puffs sprinkle with icing sugar and fill with cream.