Netflix suggested the other day that I watch The Great British Bake Off. I don’t always do what Netflix tells me to but I did in this case and I am glad because this baking reality TV show is awesome. For those of you not familiar with the program, a bunch of amateur bakers enter a several week-long baking competition held in a tent in the beautiful British countryside. They are judged by two accomplished bakers and TV personalities with the (actual and awesome) names Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.
The premise may sound boring but it really isn’t, it’s very entertaining AND educational to boot! Over the course of the season I learned about all kinds of interesting pastries, some that I had vaguely been familiar with and one that I had never ever heard of (hot water crust pastry, which I will come to in a future post).
One of the pastries that caught my attention was pate a choux (pronounced “shoe”), the dough that’s used for eclairs and cream puffs. I had heard of it but never given it enough thought to develop any interest in actually making it until I saw the bake off contestants make mouthwatering eclairs. So I went to my cookbook shelf and dusted off my trusty copy of Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America. It’s a great book and I have no idea why I don’t consult it more often.
I followed the CIA’s cream puff choux pastry recipe to the t and unsurprisingly it worked out beautifully. To get ideas for a filling and glaze I simply took a peak into our liqueur cabinet and didn’t have to look further than the coffee liqueur, one of my favorite dessert ingredients. I mixed it with powdered sugar for the glaze and whipped it into heavy cream for the filling. And that’s it! The preparation of everything is easy and fuss-free and the result delicious and pretty!
- 1 cup whole milk
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup bread flour, sifted
- 3 eggs
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (I used Kapali)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons coffee liqueur (I used Kapali)
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add milk, butter, sugar and salt to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Turn the heat down to medium, then add the sifted flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon.
- Cook, continuing to stir, until the dough starts to peel away from the sides of the saucepan.
- Transfer the dough to a bowl, then beat on medium speed until it's cooled down to lukewarm.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the egg white.
- Fill the dough into a large piping bag with a large, round tip and pipe about 20 dollops onto the baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 325 degrees F and continue to bake until the puffs are golden-brown, about another 20 minutes.
- Let the puffs cool completely, then slice in half horizontally.
- Whip all ingredients to stiff peaks.
- Fill into a piping bag and fill into the cream puffs.
- Whisk liqueur with powdered sugar and drizzle over the cream puffs.
Food Photography and Styling: I wanted to create a relaxed afternoon feel in this photo so lit the photo from the side (with my strobe) to make it look like the cream puffs were sitting next a window with afternoon light coming in at a low angle. To contrast the round shapes of the puffs I set them on a rectangular plate and I thought that worked nicely. The background was a bit empty so I set my small (only about 5 inches high) flask in the back and filled it with milk. I did like the big bubble in the cream of the front puff, I thought it gave it character so I didn’t clone it out. :)
For info on what type of camera and lighting equipment I used head on over to my FAQ page.