I experimented with choux pastry yesterday. ‘Experiment’ sounds so much more positive than ‘disaster’, I think! Maybe gluten-free choux pastry was a little ambitious, considering it’s the first time I’ve ever made choux pastry, with anything. Particularly since Delia recommends strong flour high in gluten.
However, I have been obsessed with trying to make my own choux since last week’s Great British Bake Off (which featured a choux bike and swans, among other things) and since I only have gluten-free flour in the house, I thought I would give it a go.
So, I gamely began baking, envisioning the bounteous clouds of profiterole buns which would soon emerge from the oven.
If you have never made choux pastry before, it is a completely foreign concept. It’s as far from what I consider as ‘pastry’ as you can get, but neither is it very like a batter, such as you would use for pancakes and yorkshire puds. The entire process goes against my British home-baking instincts, leading me into the strange world of French patisserie.
The first batch was an utter disaster. I don’t know whether I was too gentle with my flour-beating, or too quick with the egg-beating, but I ended up with a horrible, lumpy batter which simply would not go smooth.
I chucked it and started again, ending up with a much better pastry.
I don’t know whether it was the gluten-free flour, the fact that I opened the oven too early or a combination of both, but when I took out the buns, half of them collapsed into a sorry-looking heap. They weren’t so much buns as pancakes.
Still, I was determined to salvage my pastry mess. I nibbled a little and it tasted reasonably choux-like, so I whipped up some cream and stuck random bits of pastry together. There were a couple of round buns, but mostly it was just a collection of pastry and cream.
Undeterred, and feeling that presentation was no longer an issue, I bunged in a load of leftover cream into melted chocolate and made a ganache.
I spooned it generously over the pastry and let it cool, then my friends and I just dug in. Soon we were all grinning, covered in cream and chocolate, but sharing astonishment that they actually tasted like profiteroles. Despite the pastry’s sorry collapse, it was still light and airy and sweet, and the cream added even more of a cloud-like feel.
So here’s my higgeldy-piggedly choux recipe – if you would rather have something more presentable, then follow Delia’s recipe!
Messy Choux Buns
7 floz water
2 tbsps caster sugar
4oz gluten-free flour
3 medium eggs
2oz dark chocolate, melted
Preheat the oven to 200C and grease a baking tray.
Heat the water, butter and sugar in a pan until the butter melts. Then tip in all the flour whilst beating with one hand and then remove pan from heat. Continue to beat – hard – until you have a ball of dough which pulls away from the sides of the pan. Allow the pan and dough to cool a little. Beat the eggs in a seperate dish in the meantime. Add a little of the egg at a time and beat until fully combined before adding the next bit. Continue until you have a smooth paste which just drops from the spoon.
Either spoon or pipe the pastry onto the tray and put into the oven. Throw some water into the roasting tin before closing the oven; this will create more steam and will help the pastry to rise (in theory!)
Bake for 25 minutes until golden-brown. Pierce or slice buns (depending on whether you want to keep them whole) and allow to cool on a rack.
Whip the cream and fill the buns.
Make a chocolate ganache with melted dark chocolate and cream, or a chocolate sauce with sugar syrup and melted chocolate, and smother the buns.
If they are pretty, serve proudly and guard jealously. Otherwise, get stuck in!