I’m finally back to baking and blogging after more than a month away. My apologies for my absence, but my other hobby was taking up all of my spare time. As I have mentioned before, my other passion is musical theatre, and I was cast in a local (community) musical theatre production, which hit the stage recently for a one week run. And so my time was taken up with rehearsals and then performances.
However, the musical has now finished and it is back to cooking, cooking classes, baking and blogging. The show went well, with great feedback from the audiences. The best part was meeting all the children from the audience in character after the show. They loved that. It was a lot of work and over too quickly, but well worth it. It has reignited my love and passion for musical theatre!
But for now, there are no more shows on the horizon so I have more time for my baking and blogging. The final episode of GABO is now a distant memory, however I set myself the challenge of cooking all the technical challenges, and there is only the final weeks challenge left to go, LA Religieuse. However, as usual I did change it a bit. I decided to just do chocolate and vanilla filled versions, rather than the chocolate, coffee and rose.
I have to say I had issues with this bake. Even though I’ve made both choux pastry and crème patisserie before. Part of it could have been that I was recovering from a migraine when I first started on Saturday, and the rest was not reading the recipe correctly and then rushing and taking short cuts at the end. My first crème patisserie was a bit grainy (the sugar hadn’t dissolved using the GABO method which had the sugar in with the milk) and I put the large and small choux pastry in the oven at the same time instead of cooking them separately. So after enjoying some fresh air and sunshine at the Unwined food and wine festival in Subiaco today, I decided to start again. This time I used my normal crème patisserie recipe (which I much prefer) and cooked the choux in batches as it was supposed to, with much better results. I have to admit though, by the time I got to the assembly stage I was tired and rushing. My icing was too runny, and I didn’t want to make a second batch. And I used whipped cream instead of melted white chocolate which wasn’t firm enough. So they weren’t very pretty in the end and not very stable. But they still tasted nice and the choux pastry itself turned out great.
I have to say next time I will just cook éclairs or profiteroles, which can all go in the oven at one time, and they are much easier to assemble. All in all, after the first failure, I was pretty happy with the outcome taste wise, although they are a very sweet and rich dessert. I am very happy that I managed to get through all 8 of the technical challenges (some better than others). Of course, cooking in your own kitchen is completely different to the high stress environment of the GABO tent, but who knows…I might have read the recipe properly if I was there!
Next up? I start a 5 week Christmas Baking Class with Sarah Brigden from babyCakes this week.
GABO La Religieuse
Makes 6 nuns (plus possibly some extra profiteroles/éclairs)
You will need two flat baking trays (greased)
- 150g plain flour (sifted)
- 100g unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 250ml cold water
- 3 eggs (and one egg yolk in case you need it)
- 500ml milk
- 1 vanilla bean (or vanilla paste or extract) – cut in half and seeds scraped out.
- 50g unsalted butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 60g corn flour
Chocolate crème patisserie
- ½ of crème patisserie
- 3-4 tablespoons of melted dark chocolate
- 1 cup of icing sugar (sifted)
- 2 (or more) tablespoons of cocoa (sifted) – depends on how dark your cocoa powder is. Make it as strong as you prefer
- Whipped cream or 1 cup melted white chocolate
- Hot water
- To make the crème patisserie, place the caster sugar and corn flour together in a medium sized bowl. Whisk together until combined. Then add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk until combined.
- Place the milk, vanilla (seeds and pod) and butter into a medium sized saucepan and bring to the boil.
- Once the milk is boiling, add it slowly to the egg mix, stirring the whole time. Once it is all combined, return all the mix to the pan and return it to the stove over a medium low heat. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (or whisk), heat until it gently boils and thickens. You want it quite thick so that it will not run out of the choux pastry later. Strain the mix through a sieve to remove the vanilla pod and any vanilla fibres (the seeds will remain).
- If you want to make a chocolate flavoured version, divide the mixture in two and add 3-4 tablespoons of dark chocolate to one half (and keep the other as vanilla or flavour as you prefer).
- Place the two custards into a bowl each (or straight into piping bags). If using a bowl, place cling wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming. Set aside to cool and then place in the fridge until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 180C fan forced (200C).
- Place the water, butter and salt into a medium saucepan. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil.
- Once boiling, remove it from the heat and add the flour into the pan (in one go). Using a wooden spoon, stir immediately and quickly until the mixture is combined.
- Return it to the stove on a low heat and beat the mix with the wooden spoon until it becomes a smooth ‘ball’ and comes away easily from the side of the pan (it should only take a minute or less).
- Remove from the heat and transfer the mix to a bowl (preferably metal). Stir for a few minutes to remove some of the heat and then add the eggs, one at a time. Beat each egg in with the wooden spoon until it is combined. It will look like it is separating and curdled for a while but just be patient. Once it is combined, add the next egg and repeat until all three eggs have been added. You can also do this using a stand mixer if you wanted (use the paddle attachment not the whisk).
- You want a smooth and glossy mix with a ‘dropping’ consistency (the mix just starts to come off the spoon), but not too runny. You need the mix to hold its shape after you have piped it. If the mix is too firm, and a bit of the extra egg yolk until you get the desired consistency. Keep the rest of the egg yolk to use as an egg wash. I found I needed about half to two thirds of the egg yolk.
- Place the mix into a piping bag with an 18mm round nozzle (or just cut the hole in a disposable piping bag to that size). Pipe 6 walnut sized balls on one tray (this will be the top of the nun) and 6 balls the size of a mandarin on another tray. If you have any extra mix, pipe more balls. Wet your finger slightly and gently press down any tips at the top to help achieve a more regular shape when it cooks.
- Brush the tops with the remaining egg and lower the oven temperature to 170C fan forced (190C). Place the larger shapes into the oven first and bake for 25 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 140C fan forced (160C) and bake for a further 15 minutes until the choux balls are golden brown, crispy and puffy. Don’t open the oven during the first 25 minutes. If your oven, like mine, is uneven you can open it and turn the tray around once you have lowered the oven temperature.
- Remove the large balls from the oven and prick the base of each with a sharp knife.
- Increase the oven temperature back to 170C fan forced (190C) and bake the smaller choux balls for 15 minutes (let the oven reach temperature again before putting them in). Then reduce the oven temperature to 140C fan forced (160C) and bake for a further 10 minutes until golden brown, crispy and puffy. Prick the base of each ball with a sharp knife, turn the oven off and return the choux to the oven to dry out and then remove and cool on a wire rack.
- Fill all the balls with the crème patisserie (using whatever flavours you want) using a piping bag with a small round nozzle (from the hole in the base – make it a bit larger if you need to). If you wish, you could cut some of the larger ones in half and add fruit (raspberries, strawberries) along with the crème patisserie filling.
- Once all the choux balls have been filled, make the icing by mixing the cocoa powder with the icing sugar and adding the hot water a teaspoon at a time (keep adding the water a bit at a time until you have a thick icing). You can create other colours/flavours of icing. It is up to you.
- To make the nuns, dip them into the icing of your choice – the larger ones to make a ‘cape’ and the smaller to create a cap. Pipe a “ruffle” of melted white chocolate or whipped cream around the base of each small ball, and place on top of the larger. Then pipe a small peak on the top of each.
- Serve immediately and enjoy. Don’t fill these ahead of time, as they will go soggy.
Adapted from The Great Australian Bake Off La Religieuse
Crème Patisserie recipe adapted from Sarah Brigden – babyCakes