Welcome to Round Two of Strawberries and Cream- a Wimbledon food challenge. I spent a lot of time planning which of the many things I enjoy baking I wanted to include in this challenge. Some things I love didn’t make the list. But this one was obvious, choux pastry in any form is one of my favourite things to eat and so eclairs seemed the obvious answer.
Round 2: Strawberry Cream Eclairs
Strawberry Cream Eclairs
For the Choux Pastry:
200g of plain flour
250ml of water
125g of butter
½ tsp of salt
1 tsp of caster sugar
For the Strawberry Cream:
It’s a little hard to say how much of either you will need as it depends how many eclairs you make, how full you like them, and how much strawberry you want to include. I would say use your best judgment!
For the chocolate glaze:
100g dark chocolate
75ml of double cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
Optional vanilla essence- to taste
To make the choux pastry:
Choux pastry is one of those things that is considered difficult to get right but I have found that if you are prepared, patient, slow and pay attention it all comes together well.
Sieve the flour into a bowl. Adding the extra air through the flour helps make the choux pastry really light.
Put the water, butter, salt and sugar into a saucepan over a medium heat. The saucepan needs to be large enough to add the flour to. Bring to the boil slowly, allowing the butter to melt first.
Once boiling remove from the heat and add all the flour in one go. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon. I have no idea why a wooden spoon, but every choux recipe seems to require one.
Return to the heat and keep stirring until the mixture comes together in one lump. This doesn’t take long and it is important to keep stirring.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little.
Beat the eggs together and gradually add to the flour mixture, beating it in as you go. I do this by adding a little egg, then beating the mixture until combined, then adding more egg. Repeat until all the egg is mixed in, you may not need it all. The dough is right when it is shiny, smooth and holds together.
While the mixture cools a little more preheat the oven to 180C (for a fan assisted oven- everyone’s oven is different so you will know what temp works best. Mine hovers around 180 for baking most things).
Line a baking tray with grease proof paper, put the mixture in a piping bag and using a large nozzle pipe even lines of the choux pastry.
Place the baking tray high in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Turn off the oven. Take the pastry out and turn it over. Make holes in the base or the end. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes to dry out.
Once removed from the oven place your eclairs on a cooling/drying rack.
For the Strawberry Cream filling:
Whip your double cream until it is very thick. You almost want to overwhip it as you will be adding liquid.
Blend/juice a handful of strawberries and gently fold this through the cream.
Dice more strawberries, making them as small as you possibly can. Fold them and the juice they release through the cream.
Make one or two holes in the underside of your eclairs large enough for the small nozzle of your piping bag.
Fill the piping bag with cream and pipe into the eclairs. Be gentle and patient while filling them. I like working from both ends to help ensure I am fully filling the éclair. The eclairs should feel heavy once filled.
This is a messy job- I have never found a clean way to do this. Keep kitchen paper to hand and make sure you wash your hands if they get too sticky. The strawberries can get stuck in the nozzle if they are too big. I keep a bowl handy to squeeze them out into. This prevents you having to be too forceful while filling the eclairs.
To make the glaze:
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. The water in the saucepan should not touch the bottom of the bowl when boiling.
Once melted stir in the double cream, followed by the icing sugar. Make sure you sift the icing sugar as it always comes out of the package with lumps in it.
Allow to cool a little, before coating your eclairs. I do this by dipping my eclairs into the chocolate, I find it gets less messy than trying to our it over, and you get a cleaner finish than trying to spread it.