Choux Thing?



I’ve said it before and remains true: making pastry is not my favourite task, but I put my fears aside and made a slightly different version of Annabel Langbein’s Strawberry Lemon Puff, from her book The Free Range Cook, for a my husband’s birthday over the weekend (he’s a choux fan in a major way). Instead of the lemon curd Annabel uses, along with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, to fill the puff, I used her chocolate ganache recipe with the strawberries and cream. It was a winning combination and in the end I was pretty happy with the choux puff, but I did have a few stumbles along the way, and they were the same things that seemed off the first time I used this choux recipe, to make profiteroles, a while back. I’m wondering if any pastry experts out there might be able to help me:

– The finished batter for the pastry should “be thick enough to drop from a spoon in clumps, rather than falling freely” – no risk of the latter with mine, which both times has been very thick. Have I overbeaten it? I didn’t think I had. It turns out fine, even so – but how thick would you normally like a choux batter to appear?

– It’s supposed to cook for the first 12 minutes on fanbake at 200 – that would be insane in my oven. Even at 180 fanbake, the top of the choux starts to darken within 5 or so minutes. The temperature is then turned down to 180, but I had to go down to 160 to prevent any further browning. Ovens can be quite varied of course, so wondering if any choux-makers out there can advise what settings they would use as a rule of thumb?

I’m not criticising or questioning the recipe at all, just wondering if there are some little hints I need to know, or things I’m not quite doing right, that might make my choux pastry sessions happen with breath a little less baited. I’ll definitely be making this choux cake again but I think I’ll start with my oven at 180 next time.

All that said, do try making the Strawberry Lemon Puff  (or a decadent chocolatey version) if you have a copy of Langbein’s book. It’s a glorious looking thing, refreshingly not too sweet a dessert, and best of all, it tastes of early summer.


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