Thursday, February 3, 2011


Phase 4, Week 3, Day 13

Snow Day yesterday (1/21/11), 6 inches in St. Louis, luckily we had one day built in on the last Friday of the Phase so we are still are still able to keep on track.

Back at school on today. We had part one of a lecture on pies, made two types of pie dough, and made eclairs.

To many people the eclair is the quintessential French pastry. The food history encyclopedias (including the Larousse Gastronomique) and reference books all describe eclairs, but they provide little if any details regarding their origin. This indicates the eclair is most likely a product of food evolution. There is some conjecture, however, that perhaps Antonin Careme (1784-1833), a famous pastry chef for French royalty might have created something akin to eclairs. In French eclair means "flash of lightening" but there is not really a viable correlation between the pastry and it's meaning.

Eclairs start with a dough called pate a choux. Pate a choux actually translates to cabbage paste. The dough gets its name form its most typical application, the making of small round buns (as used for profiteroles) known in French as choux, literally cabbages. Choux is steam leavened and piped into various shapes for products, including cream puffs, eclairs, profiteroles, crullers, and gougeres. The trick to it is it must be firm enough to hold it's shape when piped, yet soft enough to be piped.

Eclairs are piped out to about 4 inches long and are typically 1-1.5 inches wide. They are baked and once cooled filled with pastry cream from holes cut out of the bottom. They are then topped with ganache. Ganache is a thickened chocolate sauce that can be heated to be used as a coating or used at room temperature to be used as a truffle mixture.

We did a pretty good job on these. You'll see them again as they will be on our practical next week.

Eclairs and cream puffs

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