I had an insatiable craving for cream puffs, particularly the ones from Beard Papa. If you haven’t tried their cream puffs, I’m talking perfect flaky crowns of golden happiness giving way to an atomic explosion of weightless vanilla cream. Ahhhh…
So I thought I might try making cream puffs at home, having had a series of successes with goodies that came out of my oven. I wasn’t all complacent of course, I was just quite encouraged that I may somehow, succeed at making flaky cream puffs but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t approach the recipe with a bagful of nerves. After all, having made cookies, brownies, cakes, cupcakes and macarons, I’ve come to recognise that pastry-making is a different dynasty of its own. Pastries freak me out, I mean on the baking front of course; as a result, my personal encounters with pastries have been far and few between in the kitchen.
When I was a kid, I tried to make croissants with my dad. We were experimenting at home, and Dad made it work. Needless to say, I didn’t understand any bit of the technique, and I forgot everything except that layers and an obscene amount of rolling were involved. I was happy to just.eat.
Umpteen years later, I was dating M and I truly wanted to impress, so I foolishly attempted to make chocolate-filled doughnuts. Choux pastry was needed and I did all I could. I certainly didn’t impress and chucked the whole lot away. This attempt left me less than enamoured with pastry-making. When I learnt that choux pastry was once again required to make cream puffs, I felt deflated to say the least, but like I said, I was high on the baking luck I was running on for the past few months. I decided to give it a go. Will fortune favour the brave?
If we’re talking about flaky Beard Papa-esque cream puffs, no, fortune was downright cruel and delivered a sucker punch to my face. But if we’re talking about the slightly chewy, airy sort that are sold in most bakeries everywhere else, then I guess I hit the jackpot. I filled these little ugly nubbins with a simple and light crème Chantilly, dressed them up in a little bit of icing sugar so they won’t seem so naked and rude, and enjoyed them the minute they were clothed. Sad to say, they weren’t very delightful after refrigeration. When I feel like making cream puffs again, I’ll look into recipes that work well with refrigeration.
Here’s the recipe:
Cream puffs filled with crème Chantilly
(adapted from Ina Garten’s profiteroles recipe)
For the puffs:
125ml semi-skim milk
1/2 cup plain flour
60g unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium eggs
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
2. Place butter, milk and salt in a saucepan on medium heat, bring to boil and remove saucepan from heat immediately.
3. Stir in flour and mix till incorporated, put the saucepan back on the heat and stir continuously for 5-6 minutes until mixture turns dry (stops sticking to pan).
4. Place the dough into a food processor, and adding 1 egg at a time, pulse to form a soft but very, very thick paste. If you can achieve this with just 1 egg, you don’t have to add the other egg. The paste shouldn’t stick to your fingers when you touch it.
5. Pipe the paste when it is still hot (essential to help it rise) and bake immediately. I piped the paste in swirls with a 2cm nozzle onto a lined tray, and pushed the tips (that will be left behind when you stop piping) in with a wet finger. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Switch off the oven and leave the puffs in the closed oven for another 5 minutes.
6. Remove the puffs from the oven and make a small slit at the side of each puff to allow the steam to escape. Cool the puffs on a cooling rack and fill with crème Chantilly. Finish off with a dusting of icing sugar and serve immediately.
For the crème Chantilly:
125ml double cream, chilled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
15g icing sugar
1. Beat the cream and vanilla till frothy and add sugar.
2. Continue to beat mixture till cream thickens and forms stiff peaks. Fill the puffs with the cream when puffs are cooled.
I hope you enjoy making these!
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