And I Thought I Didn't Like Eclairs

Today was a rather exciting day for me in the bakeshop, because we got to assemble something. By which I mean that we didn’t just pour the batter in a pan or pipe it on a sheet tray, pop it in the oven and take it out with a flourish when it was done. Instead, we got to make three things and put them together into one of my least favorite pastries: eclairs.

I’m sorry, I know it’s just wrong for me not to love eclairs, since they are such a fundamental and popular pastry. I just find pate a choux rather bland, and I hate how the pastry cream squirts out like too much mayo on a sandwich. But I digress.

We made the pastry cream yesterday, and mine was a nice consistency although it had a wee bit of starchiness left, in Chef’s opinion. Then today we made our pate a choux. Mine took two attempts because I left out the butter the first time. I can just imagine Chef writing in his notes for the day, “Cameron: Can’t be trusted to follow a recipe.” What I can be trusted to do is realize that I have screwed something up just in time to not be able to fix it. I never make the same mistake twice, but all the mistakes add up to a lot of hassle. My second batch of pate a choux came out flawless by the way.

After piping my eclairs and baking them to a lovely golden brown, it was time to fill them with pastry cream. We poked little holes in the eclair’s bottoms, just large enough to fit our piping tips. I loved filling them–at first I had no idea when they were full and I could stop squeezing my pastry bag. But as I kept going, I noticed that the eclair would start to swell just a teeny bit when it was full.

Finally, we mixed up some chocolate fondant for glazing and dipped our eclairs in it. And I had to admire the glossiness of my glaze, which meant my fondant was at just the right temperature. All in all, eclairs were more fun to make than I thought they’d be.

Then I tried one. And I don’t know if the satisfaction of having made something all by myself adds to the pleasure of eating it (almost certainly), or if Chef Welker’s recipes are just that fantastic (also very likely), but I have to admit that I liked it.