I used to think that Choux pastry was complicated. Until one day I opened up “The Black Book“. This was the recipe notebook my Scottish Granny kept, filled with simple, classic recipes from the neighbours, scribbles from the Jimmy Young Radio Show cooking program and bulging with cuttings from magazines and newspapers.
Today it’s encrusted with spatters with the proof that the recipes in her Black Book were tried and tested. I’m honoured that I was passed on her book to keep her recipes alive within the family. It’s amazing how my Granny had such a sweet tooth. There is only ONE recipe that is savoury out of the whole repertoire. I’m particularly intrigued by newspaper cuttings of the latest trendy 1960’s hairstyles. Why this is in a recipe cutting book beats me. Is there a recipe on the other side of this hair tinting advert? No.
Granny’s kitchen was the centre of the house and so her recipe book acts more like an agenda, telling a wee story. The only problem is it’s all scattered about and difficult to make out. I wonder if she tried this hair recipe to impress Grandpa, then? 😉
Granny had several entries for the classic Choux pastry in different forms, as they are the basis for many pastries such as éclairs, profiteroles, réligieuses, chouquettes, waffles and these choux buns. The recipe (like many wartime recipes) used margarine instead of butter and just 250g water. Here, I’ve replaced some of it with milk and added a touch of orange blossom water.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
2 tbsp orange blossom water
1 tbsp sugar
90g unsalted butter
4 sugar lumps, crushed (optional for chouquettes)
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Boil the water, milk, orange blossom water, salt, sugar and butter in a large saucepan.
3. Transfer to a mixing bowl (or electric mixer) and gradually add the eggs until you have a lovely smooth, sticky paste. At this point, you can seal the pastry in a bag and keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.
4. Using a piping bag, pipe out small heaps on baking trays covered in greaseproof/baking paper (or Silpat) Leave a good space between each mound, as they will spread out during baking.
5. Brush with a glaze of one egg yolk mixed with a tablespoon of water. If you’re making chouquettes, then sprinkle on crushed sugar lumps. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
Tip: Don’t open the oven door. Wait until they are cooked enough, light to dark brown – otherwise they could collapse if not fully baked.
Passion Fruit Cream
2 egg yolks
150 g sugar
60 g cornflour
250 ml milk
juice of 3 passion fruits
1. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a saucepan. In a bowl, dissolve the cornflour in a quarter of the milk and then add the remaining milk. Stir well, add the milk to the beaten egg yolks little by little and incorporate it while whisking continuously.
2. Gently heat the cream, whisking continuously for about 12 minutes or until it thickens. It needs to become as thick as a pudding. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes, covering with cling film so that no skin forms on the surface.
3. Seive the seeds out of the passion fruits and whisk into the cooled mix.
4. Transfer to a piping bag and, gently piercing a hole in the side of each choux bun, fill each bun with the passion fruit mixture.
Now make a salted caramel sauce (caramel au beurre salé), but instead of adding a touch of water to the sugar at the start of cooking, mix together the juice of 2 passion fruits to form a syrup with the sugar and proceed as in the caramel recipe. Dribble over the choux buns and prepare to float off to passion fruit heaven.
For some fun, why not decorate your choux buns for a different kind of birthday cake? In this recipe, I made 12 choux buns for an adult stack above plus 12 buns below for my daughter’s fun ‘cake’: