When I started this blog, I never thought I’d be a sweet baking person or even pastry person. Don’t get me wrong, I liked to bake but I was one of those, ‘I don’t do pastry from scratch people. I prefer to bake cakes.’
Oh, how the times have changed.
The process of pastry is addictive. Therapeutic, and it’s not as hard as it seems. The best bit is, you can make it and freeze it. Great for leftover pasty ends that don’t want to see the bin, or when I need to whip up a pastry shell – with a simple fresh cream and berries on top. Always an instant crowd-pleaser.
Shu pastry or choux is the only pastry that is made with heat. I hadn’t mastered it yet. To have a session with french chef (and Poh’s kitchen fame) Emmanuel Mollois was a ‘hells yes’ moment (much like my Christopher Thé masterclass earlier in the year, read about it here). Learning the tips and tricks has certainly opened my eyes to ‘attacking things’, rather than dusting them under the carpet.
It’s so easy to discard pastry and buy it. But once I’d popped one of Mollois’ shu pastry with monty carlo cream (cream with merigue bits and lots of vanilla) into mouth – it took me to a sweet place I’d never been before. In order to have that moment again, I’m gonna have to make these shu babies.
There is a bit of a process, but it’s incredible worthwhile – like me you’ll be going back for seconds of shu.
FIVE MINUTE FLOUR COOK OUT
Cook the flour out for a good five minutes. Mix it real good, and get an arm workout. Use a wooden spoon rather than a whisk, as it adds extra air.
EGG IT WHILE IT’S HOT
Add the first egg in whilst the dough is hot. I use to let the dough cool down before adding the eggs, to avoid scrambling them. But Mollois says, ‘beat the first egg furiously, then add the others. If the mixture is too thick add an additional egg, it’s better that the pastry is looser than too thick – it will still work out.”
PIPE THEN PIPE AGAIN
Piping takes practice. Make a batch of shu pastry, then pipe. Do it twice a week (you can scrape the shu pastry off your baking paper or silicon mat and re-pipe). Make sure you have the right nozzles for the effect you want to achieve. I learnt how to pipe a traditional round shu pastry, as well as the swan and how to do an éclair.
Mollois says, “for even piping (especially eclairs) hold your breath whilst piping”. At the class, we tested this theory and indeed it works. Éclairs, must be incredibly even and 12cm in length. So, it requires a steady hand as well as an even piping pressure. The éclair line piped whilst holding your breath was ten times more even than the an éclair line done without breathing. Try it.
Pipe, freeze then bake
Your shu pastry can be cooked from frozen. You can keep a sneaky bunch of eclairs in the freezer, then once your guest arrive, pop them in the oven.
Just pipe the shu pastry on a baking tray lined with baking paper or silicon baking sheet. Freeze them, then bake straight from frozen. As simple as that – who knew?
Baking temperatures. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees, drop the oven to 160 degrees when you put your shu pastries in. Once cooked drop the oven to 150 degress to dry the shu pastry out. Your shu pastry should have a definite crust and soft centre.
GO THE EXTRA MILE WITH SABLE
Sable is more than just that coloured coating most commonly seen on round shu pastries filled with cream.
I’d seen a sable on shu pastries before and without actually tasting it, I had ridden it off. I thought, ‘Why go that extra mile or extra effort for a coloured-cracked top?’. After tasting Mollois’ sable – I can admit I’m a sable convert. It makes an almost crumble coating and definitely adds to the eating pleasure.
Plus, it’s not that hard to make. I’m going to use this sable recipe again for sure (and share it with you).
THE DEETS YOU WANT TO KNOW
Pastry Class by Emmanual Mollois apart of Eat Drink Blog
9-10 November 2013 Perth City Farm
Selection involved applying via the website