I’ve been cooking a lot since last Thursday but the reason why you haven’t been seeing much here is because I’ve been failing a lot – something that we call on our gaming nights “swamp hand”, like when you only get sevens in Catan or you always turn the “Epidemic!” cards in Pandemic.
It was Gisele’s birthday and I wanted to make some Paris themed treats. I started with the Roll of Hearts on Thursday but instead of hearts I piped an Eiffel Tower. As it was only for the next day, I left it in the freezer.
Then I moved on to making… ahem… trying to make macarons. As far as I could tell, everything looked fine… until I baked them. When I saw the tops cracking in the first batch, I resorted to a video I had seen that explained the possible cause: underbeaten batter. So I gave it a few more strokes but it kept cracking. When I compared the two batches I realised what was wrong: my gas oven! It’s heating completely unevenly. So until I buy an electric oven I’ll give up on macarons!
The next morning I took my beautiful Eiffel Tower out of the freezer and made the roll. I filled it with ganache and started rolling it up… but the tower got stuck to the paper!
But I wasn’t defeated just yet! So I decided to make the chocolate cake recipe I used to make my Bounty-inspired Easter Cupcakes but reincarnated as a bundt cake. I buttered the tin really well and prayed for the best because time was running out. But to my despair when I tipped it over the top got stuck to the tin.
In one last effort to make something Parisian, I made a batch of gougères that the birthday girl helped me filling because by the time I got something right it was already Friday 7PM!
Slightly adapted from Delia Online
150ml cold water
50g butter, diced
2 large eggs
Have your flour measured beforehand.
Put water, salt and butter in a medium-sized saucepan, place it over a moderate heat and stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as the butter has melted and the mixture comes to a boil, turn off heat immediately.
Tip the flour in – all in one go – and beat the mixture vigorously with the wooden spoon, until you have a smooth ball of paste that has left the sides of the saucepan clean (takes less than a minute).
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing each addition in thoroughly. Beat until you have a smooth glossy paste.
Preheat oven to 200oC.
Hold a piece of baking parchment under cold running water for a few seconds, then tap it to get rid of excess moisture – this helps creating the steam that helps the pastry to rise.
To make the choux buns you can use either a teaspoon or a piping bag, just make sure they’re about the size of half a walnut and leave 2cm between them. Bake for 10 minutes on a high shelf. After that, increase heat to 220oC and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the buns are crispy, light and a rich golden colour. Let them cool on a wire rack.
Pierce the side of each one and fill with whatever you desire.
To make eclairs or profiteroles, add 1 teaspoon of caster sugar when adding the flour.
I used ham pâté (softened up with a little cream) in a small piping bag to fill my gougères.