Lesson 9 – Pate a Choux

Today I had my demo and practical for pâte a choux. Pâte a choux is what eclairs and creampuffs are made out of. It’s a fairly finicky dough, you really have to “respect the pâte a choux” as Chef Nicolas said. We’ve been told that if you go into a pastry shop and their pâte a choux is crap, you should leave immediately because it means that everything else is crap. I believe that. I have experienced that. It really is true.

Anyways, we were shown how to make the following:

*Chocolate Eclairs
*Coffee Eclairs
*Coffee Religieuse
Chocolate Religieuse
*Cygnes (choux paste swans with chantilly cream)
Salammbo

Here are pictures of what Chef Nicolas made for us.

Sorry they aren’t very good pictures. I had to wait for a while before I could get through the crowd to take them so then I was rushing. But these are what we will be making in practical.

I’ve made pâte a choux before at home, so I knew what was involved and I was confident that I could produce nice finished products. The only thing I was worried about was the fondant glaze on top.

For our practical we had Chef Christian. In the beginning while I was measuring ingredients and all that everything was fine. Then everything started to go downhill. I had forgot to make beaks in the swan heads. They were just stumps. But by the time I realized it was too late because they were already done baking. Luckily Chef saved the day and showed me what I could do to give them beaks. Almonds! It worked. So that was fine. But then I went to take my eclairs, swan bodies and religieuse out of the oven I noticed they had collapsed. I was so mad because I thought it was because I had opened the oven door too early to take out my swan and religieuse heads, but that wasn’t the case. They were all oddly shaped and basically just hideous. It was really difficult to cut the wings off of the swan bodies when there wasn’t really anything to cut since they had collapsed. So I made my pastry cream. That went fine, until it was taking FOREVER to cool down. I even had it in the blast chiller for almost 15 minutes and it was still warm. I thought it would never cool down. When that was finally cooled down enough to start piping I mixed a bit of it with some coffee extract. Great. It was mildly lumpy. That is never good. Thankfully Chef didn’t notice (muahaha), so I filled all my items with coffee cream and chocolate cream and the swans with chantilly cream.

Then it was time for fondant. FML.
Actually it wasn’t too bad. I was in charge of the coffee fondant and my neighbour beside me was in charge of our chocolate fondant. I think both of them were way too thick and so my products look messy and the glaze is really heavy. The coffee fondant stayed shiny, which is what you want, but it also didn’t have enough coffee extract in it. But the chocolate fondant went a bit dull, which means it was over-heated. I dropped two of my eclairs into the fondant so they accidentally had tons of it on them which is not good. Oh well!

When it was time to present I brought my items up with a puppy dog face I’m sure. But surprisingly Chef Christian said I did fairly well (but we all know he’s the easiest marker of all). Apparently my proportions were good and that got me points. My fondant glaze wasn’t that great. Only one of the chocolate ones was good. Despite the fact that my glaze wasn’t that great, my products were gigantic and that they collapsed in the oven, he said everything was fine. He told us that the first group, group A, had a lot of trouble in their class and that almost everyone’s were disasterous. Our group had a bit more luck but we still struggled. There was an open lab for february 6th (An open lab is a class held by the school where you can choose whichever recipe you want to practice that you have already done in class. It costs you $15 but it’s well worth it. It used to be free but not anymore…) but all the pastry spots are taken already so if I want to practice this again (because it’s an exam dish) I will have to do it at home. Or the next open lab, which is frebruary 26th I believe. Ahhh!

Here are pictures of my products:

My coffee religieuse and my eclairs. They are so ugly! haha! Worst ever! 
 

My beastly swans in which I forgot to make beaks. So I used almonds instead. Genious!

In the end when everything was cleaned up I figured out why my products collapsed in the oven. The fan was on high! (we use convection ovens at school, even though pate a choux works better in a static oven). Arrrrghhhh!!! Someone from the previous class must have accidentally left it there and I forgot to check. I asked Chef Christian if this was why and he said yes. The same thing happened to my neighbour beside me. My things could have been so much prettier if I had just checked to make sure that the fan wasn’t on high. From now on I know will check it every single time.

Well, I’m glad that I didn’t completely ruin everything. I know I need a lot of practice with this lesson but at least everything tasted good!! 🙂 Every single thing I brought home was gone within the few minutes that everyone else came home.

Butter used: 125gms
Total: 1860gms

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