who doesn't like a cream puff?
With my renewed affection for pastry cream, I decided to see what variations I could try that would work well with Sherry Yard's basic recipe.
black sesame pastry cream looks like...geez, what does it look like? food ought not to be grey in colour
I baked up a batch of mini cream puffs using Yard's recipe and made a batch of her vanilla pastry cream. I divided the batch into 3 bowls and added various flavourings to each bowl; crossing my fingers that they would turn out. I left one bowl plain vanilla...because it's still so tasty this way.
a sure-fire winner: a vanilla pastry cream & strawberry stuffed cream puff
In one bowl, I mixed in 1 tablespoon of toasted black sesame seeds, ground finely to a powder. Yes, the result looks like ash had fallen into my pastry cream, but the flavour was quite nice.
the new variations provide quite a nice contrast in flavours sitting together on a plate
The other bowl I made into a matcha pastry cream. I used 1 teaspoon matcha mixed with 1 teaspoon hot water. I created a paste and then added that to the pastry cream. I think therein was my problem. The additional 1 teaspoon of water created a watery pastry cream whose texture I found too soft. Also, the flavour was too intense for most people, I think. I didn't think the flavour was too bad, but for 1/3 of a recipe, perhaps it was too strong. I think 1 teaspoon of matcha would be fine for the whole batch of pastry cream. Next time, I'll use 1 teaspoon of the pastry cream to make the matcha slurry instead of using hot water. Perhaps the texture would be better.
doesn't that look so edible?
For this particular pastry cream, I still think either vanilla bean or the coconut pastry variation is best suited for most applications. For cream puffs, the black sesame wasn't disappointing, but I don't think I could eat a whole batch of them. It's nice as a filling for a mini puff, sitting on a plate with the other flavours. Next time, I'll have to make a chocolate variation for the trio of mini puffs. Perhaps chocolate, coconut and banana?
Check out my previous post on Fresh Berry Tarts for Yard's Pastry Cream recipe. For the basic vanilla recipe, use one cup milk instead of the one cup unsweetened coconut milk.
PATE A CHOUX (CREAM PUFFS)from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking
1 cup bread flour
1 t sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
6 T unsalted butter
4-5 large eggs [I used 5]
for egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk
- Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside
- Bring the water, milk, and butter to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. At the boil, remoe the pan from the heat and add the flour mixture all at once. Using a sturdy spoon, stir vigorously to combine.
- Return the mixture to medium heat and stir constantly in figure eights. Cook for at least 4 minutes, or until the mixture has a smooth, mashed-potato-like appearance. This helps to break down the starch and develop the gluten. Remove it from the heat.
- Transfer the hot mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the dough cools to 185 degrees F. Add 4 of the eggs, one at a time. Be sure to let the batter absorb each egg and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula before adding the next. Before adding the last egg, test for consistency. Pinch off about 1 teaspoon of dough with your thumb and index finger, then pull your fingers apart. The dough should stretch rather than break. If it breaks, add the last egg. Mix on low speed until thoroughly incorporated, about 2 minutes. Do the finger test for consistency again. The dough should be shiny and smooth. It is now ready to be piped. To store for later use, cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Fit a large plain tip into a large plastic piping bag. Make a big cuff at the top of the bag and fill the bag halfway with choux paste. Uncuff and twist the top of the bag to push the contents toward the tip. For large cream puffs, pipe mounds of pate a choux 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch high onto the first baking sheet, 2 inches apart. For medium puffs, the mounds should be 1.5 inches in diameter and 1 inch high. Small puffs should be 1/2 inch in diameter and 1/2 inch high. At this stage, the unbaked cream puffs can be frozen. Cover with plastic film and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Defrost at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.
Egg wash and Baking:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and place a heatproof baking dish or pan on the floor of the oven. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Glue each corner of the parchment to the sheet with a dab of choux paste. This keeps the paper in place during piping and baking. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper and place a rack on it.
- Make the egg wash by whisking the egg and yolk in a small bowl. Brush lightly but evenly over the puffs.
- Place the puffs in the oven and pour the hot water into the pan on the oven floor. Quickly close the door to keep all the steam in the oven . Bake for 10 minutes, or until the puffs begin to rise, then turn the oven down to 350degrees F and rotate the baking sheet. Prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon and bake for 18-20 minutes more for large puffs, or until the puffs turn nutty brown. (For medium puffs, bake for 15-18 min. more). Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack, about 15 minutes, before filling and serving. At this stage, the cream puffs can be frozen for later use. Place the cooled puffs in an airtight plastic bag and freeze for up to 2 weeks. They will also keep for 24 hours at room temperature before being filled.