Thursday, 15 November 2012

good old Choux a la Creme

Little Choux buns filled with custard cream bring back memories of my childhood.
We Japanese people call them シュークリーム, "Choux a la Creme Anglaise." They were very popular pastries in those days and I believe they still are.  My mum never made them but bought them quite often from the bakery. As a little girl at that time, I adored the little crusty buns filled with thick creamy eggy custard. I never knew that British people eat "hot" custard until I came to England and it was a bit of a culture shock. Custard had been always thick and cold and never ever hot and runny in my mind. So, I asked my English friend what on earth was that yellow liquid. Anyway, here are my simple Choux a la Creme. I enjoy making choux pastry. It's fun to see the constancy of the dough dramatically change in the saucepan.
I made low-fat custard cream this time. Making home-made custard is also a joy. Stirring the custard continuously until gradually the liquid turns to "proper" custard is a kind of therapy I think. I added a bit of orange zest at the end to make citrus infused custard.

Ingredients for choux buns 
( I made 20 of these, but you could make 30 small ones) 

  • 60g ( 2½ oz) strong flour
  • 150ml cold water
  • 50g (2 oz) butter
  • 2 large eggs


  1. As you are going to need to 'shoot' it quickly into the water and melted butter, sift the flour into a bowl and add a teaspoon of caster sugar and pinch of salt and set aside.
  2. Put 150ml of cold water in a medium-sized saucepan together with 50g of butter, cut into small pieces, then place the saucepan over a moderate heat and stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture comes to the boil, turn off the heat immediately, as too much boiling will evaporate some of the water.
  3. Then tip the flour in – all in one go – with one hand, while you beat the mixture vigorously with the other. You can do this with a wooden spoon.
  4. Beat until you have a smooth ball of paste that has left the sides of the saucepan clean – this will probably take less than a minute.
  5. Beat 2 large eggs well, then beat them into the mixture – a little at a time, mixing each addition in thoroughly before adding the next.
  6. Beat until you have a smooth glossy paste. At this stage, lightly grease a baking sheet then hold it under cold running water for a few seconds, and tap it sharply to get rid of excess moisture. This will help create a steamier atmosphere, which, in turn, helps the pastry to rise.
  7. Fill a plain-nozzle piping bag with the choux dough and pipe the dough into small buns about 5cm/2in in diameter onto the baking tray, leaving at least an inch between each buns.
  8. bake on a high shelf in a pre-heated oven – gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C) – for 10 minutes. After that, increase the heat to gas mark 7, 425°F (220°C), and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the buns are crisp, light and a rich golden colour.
  9. Pierce the side of each one to let out the steam. Put the pastries back in the oven for a few minutes to completely dry out.  Then cool them on a wire rack. 

Ingredients for Low-fat Custard cream 

  • 2 Tbsp plain flour
  • 410ml milk
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 56g sugar

  1. Whisk flour and half of milk in a medium sauce pan until smooth. Whisk in the remaining half of the milk and add vanilla extract.
  2. .Bring the mixture to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to low, cook for 1 minute or until sauce thickens.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. While beating constantly, add a little bit of milk mixture to the bowl to temper the eggs. Then add the egg into the milk mixture.
  4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens. Strain through a sieve into a clean bowl.
  5. Store in air tight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.