Our Daring Bakers challenge this month was a doozy! Not only did we have to make pâte a choux, which I have never had much success with, but we had to make filled shapes, preferably swans! My first attempt was an utter failure, which I attribute to undercooking the dough before I added the eggs, as well as the fact that it was 36°C with 87% humidity the day I made them. Not ideal baking conditions. For the second batch, though, I made sure to cook the dough sufficiently and it was a much cooler and less humid day. Success!
Pâte a choux
1 cup water
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 cup all purpose flour
4 large eggs
Preheat oven 190°C.
In a medium pot, bring the water, butter and sugar to a simmer on medium heat. Whisk the salt into the flour, add to the pot all at once and with a wooden spoon or spatula, stir very quickly in one direction until a dough forms. Keep stirring to continue cooking the flour and cook off some of the water for another minute or two.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Add the eggs one at a time mixing rapidly until each is combined into the dough until it is glossy, smooth, and somewhat thick.
Transfer dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap a refrigerate for about 30 minutes. This just makes it a little easier to work with.
Spoon some of the dough into a piping bag. Using a 1⁄4” (6 mm) tip, pipe 20 swan heads, like a numeral 2, each about 5cm high and 2.5cm wide, onto a paper lined baking sheet.
Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Using a larger tip, pipe out 20 swan bodies onto a paper lined baking sheet. They should be about 5cm long, and about 2.5cm wide. One end should be a bit narrower than the other.
Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until puffed and golden. Once done, turn the oven off, cut a small slit into the side of each puff with the tip of a serrated knife to let the steam escape, return to oven and leave door ajar for 5 – 10 minutes.
Remove the pastries to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before filling.
Vanilla Creme Patissiere
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp cornstarch
6 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
Dissolve cornstarch in 1⁄4 cup of milk in a bowl. Combine the remaining 3/4 cup milk with the sugar in a saucepan, bring to boil and remove from heat.
Beat the whole egg and the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.
Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream while continuously whisking.
Continue whisking until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.
Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.
Take a swan body and use a very sharp knife to cut off the top 1/3 to 1⁄2.
Cut the removed top down the middle to make two wings.
Dollop a spoonful of filling into the body, insert head and then add wings.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired and serve immediately.
This was fun and challenging and I have learned a lot about making choux pastry. Thanks, Kat, for a truly challenging challenge!
Blog-checking lines: Kat of The Bobwhites was our August 2012 Daring Baker hostess who inspired us to have fun in creating pate a choux shapes, filled with crème patisserie or Chantilly cream. We were encouraged to create swans or any shape we wanted and to go crazy with filling flavors allowing our creativity to go wild!
Download the printable .pdf here.