Eclairs might just be my most favorite baked treat ever! I think it’s because when you take a giant bite, all the flavours get squished together and taste a-mazing!
They might take a little more planning than say, making a chocolate chip cookie, but the end results are worth it.
Choux pastry isn’t that hard to make but you have to watch it carefully as it bakes. Getting that hollow middle will depend on baking them long enough so that they dry out and become crispy on the outside but still remain soft on the inside.
The way choux pastry works is that the moisture in the batter evaporates during the baking process and forces the pastry outwards, resulting in an expanded pastry stick with a hollow centre. You need to slice these down the side with a sharp knife as soon as they come out of the oven or else the remaining steam will be trapped and cause the pastry to go soggy.
You can actually fill these with any cream or custard you wish. The éclairs can be made a day ahead and stored (without filling) in a covered container. To crisp the éclair shell if they feel slightly damp, pop them in a 350 degree oven for about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature again before filling. Store in the refrigerator once they’re filled. They will get soggy if stored overnight so serve them the same day.
While these should traditionally be filled with whipped cream, my love of custard overcame tradition.
These raspberry and custard eclairs are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea.
- 100 g Strong White Flour
- 180 ml Water
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 75 g Unsalted Butter
- 3 Eggs
- 330 ml Milk
- 1 tsp Vanilla Paste
- 4 Large Egg Yolks
- 70 g Caster Sugar
- 2 1/2 tbsp Corn Flour
- 200 ml Double Cream
- 200 g Raspberries
- 150 g Icing Sugar
- 50 ml Double Cream
- Start by making the choux pastry. Put the butter, salt and water in a saucepan over a medium heat. While the water is heating up sift the flour onto a large square of parchment paper. Once the water is boiling, and the butter is melted, pour the flour into the saucepan from the parchment paper.
- Stir the water and flour together over the heat with a wooden spoon until it comes together as a thick paste, then turn the heat down to low and continue vigorously stirring the paste for a further 2-3 minutes (this helps the flour cook).
- Put the dough into a large mixing bowl, and lay some cling film directly onto the flour paste and leave to cool down for at least an hour.
- While the choux is cooling, make the custard. Put the milk and vanilla paste in a saucepan over a medium heat. While the milk is heating up, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together in a heatproof bowl with a hand whisk until they are smooth and creamy.Once the milk is steaming, but not yet boiling, whisk the milk into the egg yolk mixture in the bowl until it is fully incorporated. Pour the custard back into the saucepan and continue to heat, constantly mixing with a silicone spatula until it thickens up.
- Pour the thickened custard into a clean bowl, cover with cling film and put in the fridge to cool.
- Once the choux paste has cooled down to room temperature, scrape it out into a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle. Set the mixer on full speed and break down the set paste (it will break up into lots of rubbery bits). With the mixer still on full speed, break 2 of the eggs in one by one, waiting for each egg to be fully incorporated before you put in the next.
- Beat the third egg in a bowl and add half of this to the mixer. Continue beating until it is combined, then turn the mixer off and scoop some out with the spatula; if there is enough egg, the mixture will fall off the spatula, leaving a V shaped bit of mix behind. If the mixture doesn’t fall, or leaves a really shallow V, beat the rest of the egg into the mixture. Scoop the choux pastry out of the mixer bowl and load into a large piping bag fitted with a 15mm round nozzle.
- Cut 2 sheets of baking parchment and line your baking trays. Pipe neat lines of choux about 10-12cm long. Dab a little water on any peaks of choux to round them off and stop them burning in the oven.
- Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then open the oven door to allow some steam to escape, turn the oven down to 180C close the door and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Once the choux have cooked, take out of the oven, and as soon as they are cool enough to handle, cut each one in half using a long serrated knife (a bread knife is perfect). Lay the cut halves of choux on a cooling rack to fully dry out.
- Take the custard out of the fridge and mix up with a spatula. In a separate bowl, whisk the cream until it forms firm peaks, and a couple of spoonfuls at a time fold into the custard mixture. Once the cream and custard are combined, load into a piping bag fitted with a large star shaped nozzle. Pipe the custard onto the bottom layer of each éclair using a spiral motion, then press 3 or 4 raspberries into this. Gently lay the top of each éclair on to the custard.
- To make the raspberry glaze push 50g of raspberries through a sieve into a bowl using a spoon to mush them up and force them through. Add the icing sugar to the raspberry puree and mix thoroughly. Pour in the cream and whisk until the glaze thickens up. Load the glaze into a piping bag and pipe on top of the éclairs.