Perfect for summer days, this beautiful Nectarine Rose & Custard Tart is the best for entertaining family and friends. A sweet pastry filled with whole egg custard and topped with slivers of sweet, ripe nectarines. Absolutely delicious and look stunning!Read More
I think I've made a lifetime's supply of profiteroles in the last two weeks. It has definitely been an opportunity to perfect my choux pastry technique! Chocolate and custard are favourites in this house, so it's not been unwelcome ;-)
I was making a Croquembouche for a birthday last weekend. Everything went perfectly - the choux pastry, the custard, filling the little balls of delight - until I came to build the Croq itself. I was using a recipe that used melted white chocolate to stick the buns together and I thought it was all going swimmingly until I came to release it from its cone. Collapse. Don't admit defeat, I thought. I went through all the possibilities. Time was short. Royal icing, I decided. Whipped up a batch and reglued the buns together using icing. Then I forced myself to leave the house for four hours to let it set (I had no longer and this was already a stressful thing to do when I was due to deliver it that afternoon). I returned, full of hope. Slowly I edged it out of its cone. It stood up but it looked a little crooked. Like a witch's hat with a little kink at the top. I moved around looking at it from different angles. The bottom seemed to be expanding, it leant a little bit more, then a little bit more, before a large splat on the kitchen workbench.
I have the loveliest friends. They were insistent that I deliver the mashed up Croq with some chocolate sauce on top, but I just had to make a new batch. So it was during this time that I perfected my profiterole making and streamlined a quick and easy method for making them. The custard part needs to be made before, but you can always fill them with whipped cream. And the chocolate sauce is super easy, very rich and hugely indulgent.
I suggest making the choux buns the day before you need them. They can get a little soft but I just blasted them in the oven for 5 minutes to crisp them up before filling on the day you plan to serve them. I've heard a number of people worry that choux is difficult to make but this is a pretty fullproof method. You put butter and water in a saucepan until the butter is melted and then bring to the boil. Add the flour in one go and mix vigorously over the heat until it comes together and comes away cleanly from the side of the pan. This takes around 30 seconds. Take it off the heat and place to one side for 5 minutes. After this cooling, add the eggs one by one, stirring vigorously after each one. A lot of recipes suggest that you may not need to add all the eggs but if unsure then add all the eggs. Then pop this in a piping bag. Snip 1cm off the end.
I pipe mine onto silpat lined baking trays but you can use baking parchment. Pipe 24 balls (4 x 6 balls) onto your tray. You'll probably get a little point on the top of each ball and using a little water on your finger, gently pat down the point (this stops it from burning in the oven). I cook mine for 10 minutes, then rotate the trays 180 degrees for another 10 minutes. Then remove them from the oven, cut a little slit in the side (around 1cm) and pop them back in for 5 minutes. Then allow to cool on a baking rack. Repeat with any remaining mixture. These can be stored in an airtight container until you're ready to use them.
I also make my custard the day before I need it and chill it in the fridge overnight. Now custard needs a lot of egg yolks, so it's always worth having something to make with all your leftover egg whites! It's very simple to make too. The egg yolks, sugar and flour are mixed together to make a paste. Then just boiling milk is poured over the egg mixture, whisked vigorously before returning to the saucepan. It's important to whisk this well as you don't want a scrambled egg mixture. You cook this over a low heat, always stirring, until it's thick and bubbling. Then it should be transferred to a bowl and covered with a layer of clingfilm so that the clingfilm is in contact with the surface of the custard. Once cool, it can be refrigerated.
On the day of serving, I generally give my choux buns 5 minutes at 160 degrees just to crisp them up a little. They cool down very quickly so by the time you've filled your piping bag with the custard, they're ready to fill. I use a pastry piping nozzle which has a long, thin nozzle that you can stick into the bun. Squeeze the custard in gently so you can see the filling spreading throughout and the bun will expand a little when it's full. If you're concerned you may be over-filling them, start with a little and you can always go back and top up.
The chocolate sauce is very rich and indulgent and sets quite quickly so you need to pour it on as soon as it's ready. It's warm when you pour it, but you can serve it cool (it will harden a little) or warm - both are delicious. The sauce is made from a sugar syrup (water and sugar) brought to the boil and then reduced to simmering. Whilst simmering, place a bowl with a chocolate on top (as a bain-marie) and allow the melt gently. When it's melted, pour the sugar syrup into the bowl and mix well until combined. Then pour immediately on the profiteroles.
The three elements for making the profiteroles could be really complicated, but are in fact very straightforward when broken into four steps. Making the choux buns and custard the day before, removes the stress completely when you have friends or family waiting to eat them. And making a fresh, warm, chocolate sauce poured over the top in front of your guests is the best (and not only for the smell of the chocolate!)
Profiteroles always seem to be a winner. Kids and adults alike love them. And I think they make such a special dessert, just perfect for sharing :)
Profiteroles with Custard and Chocolate Sauce
adapted from BBC Good Food
Choux Bun Ingredients
- 185G PLAIN FLOUR
- 175G UNSALTED BUTTER
- 450ML WATER
- 6 LARGE EGGS, BEATEN
Choux Bun Method
- Place the butter and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted
- Bring to the boil and add the flour all at once
- Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and comes away cleanly from the side of the pan (around 20-30 seconds)
- Remove from the heat and put to one side for 5 minutes
- Beat in the eggs one by one until the mixture is glossy and just holding its shape without being too runny
- Put this in a piping bag and cut 1 cm of the end of the bag
- Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan)
- Line 2 baking trays with silpat or baking parchment and pipe 24 rounds onto one sheet (6 x 4 balls around 3cm)
- If you have little peaks on the top of your buns, pat each peak gently with a lightly dampened finger
- Place the two trays in the oven and bake for 10 minutes
- Then rotate the trays 180 degrees and bake for a further 10 minutes
- Remove from the oven and cut a 1cm slit in the side of each bun and place back in the oven for 5 minutes
- Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack
- Once cool, put them in an airtight container overnight
- 9 LARGE EGG YOLKS
- 150g GOLDEN CASTER SUGAR
- 50g PLAIN FLOUR
- 500ml FULL CREAM MILK
- 1 TBSP VANILLA PASTE (to taste)
- Beat the egg yolks, sugar, flour and vanilla paste in a bowl until you have a smooth paste
- Bring the milk just to the boil and then pour it over the egg mixture, whisking all the time
- When combined, pour it back into the saucepan over a low heat, whisking all the time
- Keep whisking until the custard is bubbling and thickened
- Remove from the heat and cover with clingfilm so the clingfilm is in contact with the surface of the custard
- Once cool, refrigerate until ready to use
Preparing Your Profiteroles
- When you're ready to assemble the profiteroles, if the choux buns feel a little soft, put them in oven at 160 degrees for 5 minutes
- Using a pastry nozzle, fill your piping bag with the custard
- Take each ball in turn, insert the piping nozzle into the side of the ball and gently fill each one with custard - you will feel the ball inflate slightly
- Continue until all balls are filled and then assemble on your serving dish
Chocolate Sauce Ingredients
- 100ML WATER
- 80G CASTER SUGAR
- 200G DARK CHOCOLATE (broken into small pieces)
Chocolate Sauce Method
- Bring the water and sugar to the boil in a saucepan and then reduce to a simmer
- Place the chocolate in a bowl and place this over the top of the saucepan
- Stir the chocolate from time to time until it's all melted
- Once melted, pour the sugar syrup from the saucepan into the bowl of melted chocolate
- Stir until smooth
- Pour immediately over your dish of profiteroles
- The profiteroles can be served with either warm sauce or sauce allowed to cool - although there is something especially yummy about warm, melted chocolate sauce over a plate of these little choux buns :)
So as the whole of the UK gears up for GBBO (the Great British Bake Off's new series) tonight, we've been promised the most eclectic bunch of contestants yet. And with a special mathematical formula, predictions are that Flora and Nadiya will be going head to head in the final. And we haven't even met them yet!!!! Ooh err! The excitement. I, for one, will be firmly glued to my TV screen :)Read More
Magic cake. Magic. Cake. What doesn't appeal about this? They had me at the word magic, let alone cake. There are many recipes for this, most of them very similar and it has been across the internet for some time now. I've had it stored up in the back of mind for an occasion when I needed a little magic in my week.
The magic about this cake is that from a single batter, you get three distinct layers. The bottom of a firmer layer of custard, the middle a softer (and more wobbly) custard and the top is sponge. You could also call this cake Magic Custard Cake if you prefer but I kind of like the anonymity of leaving out the word custard until you're actually tucking into a slice. Of the many recipes that I could try for this, I decided to work with the one from Cinnamon and Toast and it's very straightforward.
There a few key stages to making this cake a success. The eggs need to be at room temperature. You will need to separate them and will whip the whites to soft peak before adding them. You will need to gently warm the milk so that the butter doesn't start to solidify again when you add it. Folding the soft peak egg whites into what is a liquid batter isn't the easiest but once mixed in, the batter is ready for the cake tin. It also takes 50 mins to an hour to bake in the oven and needs to be cooled completely before attempting to remove it from the tin (I mean, imagine trying to remove a cake with an unset custard middle from the tin and the oozy centre). But if you stick with the instructions below it really does work and you get the most delightful custard cake.
Being custard, it makes a lovely dessert (my boys absolutely adored it) but it would also be lovely for afternoon tea. It's a very light cake and has a fantastic taste of vanilla throughout the custard. A bit like the egg custards I used to eat as a child, minus the pastry.
I will definitely be making this again. I can see it becoming a firm favourite in our house, especially with our boys who are obsessed with custard anyway.
So go on - try it. Bring a little magic into your house :)
- 4 LARGE EGGS, SEPARATED AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
- 150G SUGAR
- 110G BUTTER AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
- 95G PLAIN FLOUR
- 470ML LUKEWARM MILK
- 1 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- ICING SUGAR FOR DUSTING
- Preheat oven to 160 degrees (fan)
- Lightly grease an 8 x 8 inch square cake pan and line with parchment paper (you can use other cake pans but as the batter is liquid, springform tins are not advisable!)
- Warm milk in microwave and set aside
- Beat together the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl until creamy and pale yellow
- Add butter and mix for approximately 2 minutes on high speed
- Add the flour and mix until fully incorporated
- Turn the speed down on the mixer to low and slowly add the milk and vanilla
- In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites until soft peaks are formed
- Gently fold in egg whites, ⅓ at a time. The batter is liquid and it's tricky to incorporate the egg whites but continue to stir them through until they're mixed in
- Pour into the cake pan.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until top is lightly golden and firm to the touch (when you remove it from the oven, it may sink a little, but that's okay)
- Let cool completely before removing it from the cake tin
- Dust with icing sugar before serving
Last year, I had the pleasure of attending the baby shower of a Polish mum-to-be. Even though it was her party, she made dinner for all the children there as well as treating us to a platter of Polish delicacies. The one that has been firmly planted in my mind since then was a beautiful Polish version of our vanilla slice - Karpatka. She was full of apologies about how it wasn't as perfect as her mother's and I think was taken aback by its success! Instead of the puff pastry of an English vanilla slice, this has layers of choux pastry sandwiched together with vanilla custard. It is seriously delicious (and I've been dreaming about it ever since!) It reminds me of the choux buns my mum used to buy for me when I was little although they had chocolate drizzled across the top too :)
This recipe is a hybrid of my research into this lovely Polish dessert but all published recipes follow a similar process and it's surprisingly easy to make. The choux pastry is springy to the touch and the custard sets really well in between the two layers so it makes a robust bake that's easy to cut. The choux pastry in the oven browned VERY quickly and I was really worried that it wouldn't make the full 25 minutes, but I also know it's imperative not to open the oven door whilst it's baking so I decided to ride it out - and with a great result. Although it looked crispy when it came out of the oven, it was still really springy to the touch which is exactly what I was looking for.
The vanilla custard is absolutely beautiful in texture. We are huge custard fans in this house so it had a lot to live up to and surpassed all expectations. There were multiple slices of the Karpatka being handed around when the boys had dinner tonight and it was a big hit. I think this is my favourite bake of the journey so far!
Choux Pastry Ingredients
- 1 CUP WATER
- 125G BUTTER
- 1 CUP FLOUR
- 5 MEDIUM EGGS
- 1 TSP BAKING POWDER
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees (fan)
- Line 2 baking trays (around 32 x 23cm) with baking paper
- Put the butter and water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil
- Add all the flour and mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the sides of the saucepan which is very quick (around 30 seconds)
- Then put the mixture into your mixer with a paddle attachment (or food processor if you prefer)
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after addition until each egg is fully mixed in and the mixture is smooth and sticky
- Finally add the baking powder and beat until it's fully mixed
- Divide the mixture between the two baking trays and smooth it out until it forms two rectangles the shape of the baking tray
- Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until the tops have browned. It's very important not to open the oven door once they're in until they're cooked so don't be tempted to check on them too early!
- When they're ready, put them on a kitchen surface to cool down and you can start preparations for your vanilla custard.
Vanilla Custard Ingredients
- 720ML (3 CUPS SEMI-SKIMMED MILK)
- 170G SUGAR (3/4 CUP)
- 110G BUTTER
- 1 TSP VANILLA PASTE (OR VANILLA EXTRACT IF YOU DON'T HAVE PASTE)
- 30G PLAIN FLOUR (1/4 CUP)
- 5 TBSP CORNFLOUR
- 4 EGGS
- ICING SUGAR (FOR DUSTING)
- Whisk together the eggs and vanilla in a bowl and then add the flour a little at a time - the mixture went a little lumpy with the addition of the flour so you want to add it slowly and mix thoroughly so you can ensure than it's lump-free
- Then add a cup of the milk (240ml) milk and whisk thoroughly until smooth
- Place 2 cups (480ml) of milk, the sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil
- Once this is boiling, pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and whisk well until the custard thickens and starts to boil - this took mine around 90 seconds - but be careful to ensure that you're scraping the bottom of the boil when whisking as it can burn very easily
- Pour this custard onto one rectangle of choux pastry and spread it out leaving a small border around the edge (you're going to trim the rectangles down at the end)
- Sandwich the custard with the top layer and then place in the refrigerator until the custard cools and sets
- When ready to eat, dust the top layer with the icing sugar and cut it into squares - I got 16 squares from mine (and lots of edges to eat when neatening it up!)