One day, I had a choux pastry overload. Actually, that’s only because of the Grasbergs milk and butter that had arrived at my house. I thought about what to make and remembered that a holiday table is just not complete without little balls of pastry (or éclairs, if you wish). One pan turned out great, the other – not so much (I baked it 5 minutes less and kept opening the oven door because I was in a hurry!). But in the end, they turned out super – bigger and smaller puffs for big and small guests – and they represented the holidays with the addition of gingerbread and orange zest.
short crust pastry:
40 g unsalted butter, room temperature
40 g light brown or white caster sugar
40 g wheat flour
pinch of sea salt
250 ml milk
250 ml water
pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp fine white or brown sugar
250 g butter, cubed
300 g wheat flour (“550” type)
7‒8 medium eggs, beaten with a fork
500 ml milk
100 ml cream
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
5 medium/large egg yolks
140 g white or brown sugar
60 g cornstarch
zest of 1 orange, finely grated
50 g gingerbread, crushed like breadcrumbs
100 g whipping cream
200 g whipping cream
blueberry or cranberry powder
Prepare short crust pastry. Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix until breadcrumbs appear. Add just a bit of water (about 2 tbsp) and knead the dough together. Add more water of necessary. Place the dough between two sheets of baking paper and roll out the dough 2 mm thick. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes, in the fridge if more.
Heat the oven to 180°. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
For the choux pastry, pour milk and water in a pot. Add salt, sugar, and butter and heat just until it begins to boil. Remove from heat and add the flour, stirring vigorously all the while, until it is uniform. Return the pot to the stove and heat the dough for another 2 minutes, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat, transfer to a mixing bowl, and beat with a mixer on low speed until the pastry is slightly cooled.
With the mixer running on low, add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating them well into the dough. The dough should be elastic, but should also keep its shape (that’s why you add the eggs one at a time). If the dough seems pliable enough, but all the eggs are not added, then don’t add any more. If there are too many eggs, the dough will not hold together and all will be lost!
Put the pastry dough into a pastry bag and on 1 pan squeeze out 4 cm balls about 4 cm apart from each other. Bake for 40 minutes until they are golden brown and look firm. Don’t open the door during the bake! When the pastries are done, remove from the oven, prick the bottoms to release steam, and cool completely on a rack. On the other pan squeeze out 2 cm buns and bake the same as the other one, but just around 20 - 30 minutes.
For the custard, pour milk and 100 g cream into a pot, add the vanilla bean, and heat till it is hot. Meanwhile, place egg yolks into a bowl with sugar and cornstarch and whisk together. When the milk has begun to boil, add it to the egg mixture slowly, whisking vigorously all the time. Return the mixture back to the pot and heat on low, mixing constantly. Heat until it begins to thicken, but not too thick. Remove from heat, add orange zest, mix. Pour into a clean bowl, place in a cold water bath, and let it cool down. When it is almost cold, cover the surface with cling film (not the bowl), and place in the fridge to cool completely and so that the tastes meld together.
When the custard is completely cool, remove from the fridge, add the gingerbread, and mix. Whip the 300 g cream into soft peaks and fold 1/2 into the custard. It should be firm, but creamy. Fill one piping bag with the custard cream and the other with whipped cream.
Cut off 1/3 of the puff tops, so that there is small hat. Pipe on some custard cream. Place the “hat” and the cream and pipe whipped cream on top. Sprinkle the tops with some nuts. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
Recipe and photos: Signe Meirane
Camera: Sony Alpha 7s