Choux pastry forms the basis for many a French sweet treat and, according to Andre, these sure-fire tips will ensure a perfect, soft-to-the-bite result every time. “Measure your ingredients properly,” he advises. Next, ensure the melted butter is “very hot” when adding the flour. Lastly, to check consistency of the dough, drag a spoon through the middle. If the dough is soft enough to fold back over itself, it is done. “It should be not too wet, but just wet enough,” adds Andre. If you're mastered the much-loved profiterole, then raise the stakes with this classic French cake.
- 375 g frozen block puff pastry, thawed
- decorative chocolate pieces (optional), to garnish
- 500 ml (2 cups) milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
- 4 egg yolks
- 125 g caster sugar
- 75 g (½ cup) plain flour, sifted
- 15 g unsalted butter, chopped
- 100 g unsalted butter, chopped, at room temperature
- 150 g (1 cup) plain flour, sifted
- 4 eggs
- 300 ml thickened cream
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 250 g fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, strained
- 75 g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
- 440 g (2 cups) caster sugar
- 2 tbsp glucose syrup (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
DRINK 2009 Château d’Arche Sauternes, Bordeaux, France (375 ml, $35)
To make crème pâtissière, place milk and vanilla bean and seeds in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to just below boiling point. Meanwhile, place egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl, whisking to combine, then add flour, whisking to combine. Gradually pour in hot milk mixture, whisking slowly to combine. Return to same pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until thick enough to coat back of a spoon. Add butter, stirring to combine. Strain into a bowl, discarding vanilla bean. Cover surface with plastic wrap and cool. Refrigerate until needed.
Meanwhile, to make choux pastry, place 250 ml water and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and bring to just below boiling point. Remove from heat, then, working quickly to avoid lumps, add all the flour, beating with a wooden spoon. Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball and comes away from the side of the pan. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well before each addition. Pastry should be smooth, soft and just firm. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 220°C. Grease and line 2 oven trays with baking paper. Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a 25 cm disc, about 5mm thick. Transfer to one of the prepared trays and prick all over with a fork. Place choux pastry into a piping bag fitted with a 1½ cm plain nozzle. Pipe three circles onto pastry disc, starting on the edge and working towards the centre, leaving a gap between each concentric circle. Pipe remaining choux into 14 x 3 cm profiteroles on second prepared oven tray (you will need 12 profiteroles for this recipe, the extras are backup). Brush each with a little water.
Place both pastry base and profiteroles in oven and bake for 10 minutes or until golden, then reduce heat to 180°C and bake base for a further 45 minutes and profiteroles for a further 25 minutes or until dry. After removing profiteroles from oven, cut a small hole in each base to allow steam to escape. Transfer pastry base and profiteroles to wire racks and set aside to cool completely.
Meanwhile, to make Chantilly cream, whisk cream with sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer to stiff peaks. Refrigerate until needed.
To make raspberry coulis, place fruit and lemon juice in a food processor, processing until smooth. Strain, discarding seeds, and set aside. Place sugar in a saucepan with 60 ml water. Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar, then cook for 3 minutes or until thickened. Cool, then stir into reserved raspberry coulis. Set aside.
Reserving 60 ml, place crème pâtissière into a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm plain nozzle and fill the 12 best-looking profiteroles.
To make caramel, fill a clean sink or large heatproof bowl with iced water. Place sugar, glucose and 125 ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook for 10 minutes or until dark golden. Dip base of pan into iced water to stop caramel from cooking, then use immediately – if caramel starts to set, place pan over low heat and stir until softened again.
Working quickly and carefully, dip top of one filled profiterole into hot caramel, allowing excess to drip off, then set aside. Repeat with remaining 11 profiteroles and caramel.
To assemble gâteau, spread reserved crème pâtissière around edge of cooled pastry base and place a little in the centre. Arrange 11 profiteroles, caramel-side up, around pastry edge and leaving a 1 cm gap between each, then place 1 in centre. Place Chantilly cream in a piping bag fitted with a 2 cm fluted nozzle, then pipe cream around centre profiterole and in between profiteroles around edge. Arrange chocolate pieces, if using, on top. Cut gâteau into slices and serve immediately with the raspberry coulis.
• Glucose syrup is available from health food shops and major supermarkets.
Photography by Olga Bennett.