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!