For the Choux pastry (makes 12)
65g plain flour
Pinch of salt
50g unsalted butter
2 free-range eggs
- Preheat the oven to 200C and grease a baking tray with butter.
- Sift the flour onto a separate sheet of greaseproof paper.
- Put 120ml water into a pan with the salt and butter and heat gently until the butter has melted – be careful not to let the water boil and begin to evaporate. Quickly bring the mixture to the boil and tip in all the flour in one go. Remove the pan from the heat and beat fiercely with a wooden spoon until it comes together to make a smooth heavy dough.
- Put the pan back on a low heat and beat the dough for about a minute to slightly cook the dough – it should come away from the sides of the pan to make a smooth, glossy ball. Tip the dough into a mixing bowl and leave to cool until tepid.
- Beat the eggs in a bowl until combined, then gradually beat them into the dough with an electric whisk or mixer, or a wooden spoon, beating well after each addition. The dough should be very shiny and paste-like, and fall from a spoon when lightly shaken.
- Put the pastry into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle and pipe 12 x 10cm lengths onto the greased baking tray.
- Sprinkle the tray, not the pastry, with a few drops of water, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then, without opening the door, reduce the oven temperature to 170C and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp.
- Remove the tray from the oven and carefully make a small hole in the side of each éclair to allow steam to escape. Return to the oven and bake for a further five minutes, or until the pastry is completely crisp. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Fillings – to fill your eclairs, cut down one side and pipe in your filling of choice.
2 lemons – juice and zest
2 large free range eggs
125g golden caster sugar
115g softened unsalted butter
1 teaspoon corn flour
- Separately whisk the eggs and tip into a heavy-bottoms non-stick pan and add all the other ingredients on top.
- Place pan over a medium heat and whisk continually with a balloon whisk until the mixture thickens – this should take 7 – 8 minutes. You’ll know when the mixture is thick enough as it will easily cover the back of a wooden spoon.
- Lower the heat to a minimum and whisk for a further minute
- Remove from heat and let cool
- Once cooled either pour into sterilised jars or leave in a bowl to use immediately.
200ml double or whipping cream
3 tablespoons icing sugar
- Whip all together using a hand blender or standalone mixer until just stiff.
To make your whipped cream filling extra special you can add the flavouring of your choice. I like a teaspoon of rose extract or a few fresh raspberries.
Glaze – to glaze your eclairs simply dip the length into the glaze of your choice, or pipe if thicker.
100g milk or dark chocolate
- Melt until smooth in a bowl over a pan of boiling water or in the microwave
2 egg whites
115g caster sugar
1 tsp white wine vinegar
- Whisk egg whites with a hand blender or standalone mixer until they form white fluffy soft peaks.
- Gradually add the sugar, vinegar and cornflour and whisk until the mixture forms glossy stiff peaks. Meringue is the correct consistency when you can confidently hold the bowl upside down above your head!
- Scoop the meringue into a piping bag and pipe in swirls to the top of your eclairs (I like to use the ones filled with lemon curd).
- Using a blow torch, the grill, lightly brown the meringues.