Sunday, August 31, 2008

Let's Play Pat a Shoe

It’s the last day of August and it can only mean one thing – the end of summer? No, no, the Daring Baker’s post day. The challenge this month, created by Meeta and Tony, was to make éclairs, using the ever-versatile pâte à choux. The directions for the pastry dough, the luscious cream filling, and the glaze topping came from Pierre Hermé, the famous Parisian patissier. We were allowed some choice with the filling and glaze – one had to be chocolate, the other was our choice. For this challenge, I chose to make the filling chocolate, and then I experimented with a white glaze topping.


Because I’ve been making pâte à choux for many years, and because I’m a very analytical person, I decided to play with the instructions a little bit. Isn’t that the very core of a Daring Baker? I made the dough as per the instructions and piped it out and chilled it for about 30 minutes before baking. The baking part was where I diverged a bit. There’s a tendency for the shells to be underbaked, especially on the inside, causing collapse and gooey centers. It’s a hit or miss thing as far as I’m concerned, so I decided to consult an expert, Cookwise, by Shirley Corriher. According to Shirley’s instructions, you heat the oven first to 300°F; then, when you put in the éclairs, you immediately raise the temperature to 450°F (I went to 425°F). Once the éclairs have turned golden brown, you drop the temperature back down to 300°F and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes. I’m sold on this technique. My éclairs rose beautifully, turned a nice golden brown, didn’t collapse, and had perfect centers.




The chocolate cream filling turned out perfectly as well. I wasn’t particularly satisfied with the white glaze, however. It was awfully runny, so I will keep searching for a better recipe. I love the traditional chocolate tops, but this time I wanted a contrast between the center and the top.



When you have a spare week or two, check out the efforts of the other Daring Bakers. You won’t be disappointed!

9 comments:

Engineer Baker said...

That's a neat way to bake these - I'd be worried that my oven couldn't get up to 425 quickly enough though. Sounds like it worked for you, because those are some tasty looking eclairs!

Heather B said...

Mine didn't rise at all, I'll have to give your way a try next time. Yours look great!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Great advice on how to bake them. I really think the humidity and sea level play a part in this whole process!

Megan said...

You know, I had alot of trouble with my TWD pate a choux recipe - but this DB recipe was a cinch. Of course, I didn't follow their instructions, I used a high temp for 10-15 minutes, then lowered it and baked them until crisp.They came out perfect.

The white glaze certainly looked pretty - sorry it didn't work out the way you had hoped.

Di said...

I really need to pull out my copy of Cookwise. I haven't looked at it in a long time. I should have gone with my gut on my first batch--they ended up under-done. The second one was much better (and baked a lot longer). Your eclairs look really yummy, even if the glaze didn't work the way you wanted it to.

Passionate About Baking said...

YAY for you Judy...way to go. Pat-a shoe, LOL...I baked in hot & humid too & baked longer!! Delicious eclairs girl!

Aparna said...

You Pat A Shoe vey well Judy.:)
Love the decorative finish.

Jaime said...

love the green swirls. i found the glaze super runny too but found that if i let it cool more (i was too lazy to check the temp) it was much more set and easier to glaze

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Thanks for the baking tips from Corriher. Your result certainly looks perfect! I did something similar on the baking, but it was by accident. :)