custard queen

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guys, i’ve got to get something off my chest.

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my name is anna and i’m a custard addict.

..there. it’s out in the open now.

i will quite literally eat any form of custard: creme brûlée, trifle, portuguese custard tarts, grotty corner bakery custard tart, millefeuille, custard-powder sludge, lunettes, custard slice (i have a killer recipe i must share, do remind me would you?) and so on…

so what’s a girl to do when custard selection is quite limited? (i’m looking at you, “vanilla” dairy food that tastes like icing sugar). you make it yourself! and besides one unfortunate scrambled egg situation, it works out very nicely.

i have tackled quite a few of the above but never profiteroles. choux pastry kind of intimidated me (thanks a lot, masterchef), and while i didn’t quite manage a croquembouche, that’ll be the next challenge ;)

…i totally have a bone to pick with those shows, as despite becoming oddly addicted to the latest season of masterchef australia, i dislike how they choose to portray cooking as difficult and stressful and easy to mess up. now, i’m not seeking to diminish the difficulty of what professional chefs do: i love cooking, but being a chef would be my worst nightmare. however i feel like in this day and age of home cooking becoming more uncommon and people turning to takeaways and ready meals, flicking over to a casual episode of masterchef (or any cooking show, really) would surely turn people off cooking. they show cooks running around and lots of yelling and raw chicken and croquembouche towers collapsing (all. the. time., am i right? to the point where i just picture them giving them a sneaky nudge)

cooking isn’t supposed to be stressful. yes, it can be, especially when you’re short on time and resources, but mostly cooking should be fun. fun in the process, fun in tasting what you eat, fun in seeing the looks of satisfaction on the faces of the people you’re cooking for. that’s why I do it, at least.

tangent over, i promise ;)

so, after all that chat about stressy cooking, were profiteroles that hard? no – quite the contrary! choux pastry was a dream to work with (mainly because i didn’t have to roll it out, hallelujah!) and the custard was equally calming. the main tip i have would be to be careful not to cook the custard over a too high heat – which i life hack by using our smallest gas element. as i tend to get impatient when waiting for things to thicken/boil, so even if i turn the element up to its max heat, it still won’t get too hot and curdle the custard.

i used the gorgeous annabel langbein’s (i’ve met her…she is!) recipe for choux pastry, which appears in her book The Free Range Cook and little and friday’s recipe for Crème Pâtissière. i changed very little because this is legit french patisserie that i’m loathe to mess with! i’ve used the custard recipe before and subbed in half cream with great success, so this was my only alteration.

now, if you don’t mind, i’m off to watch masterchef (hypocrite? hey, i never said i was rational ;)

find choux recipe here *
instead of making a ring, dollop dessert spoons of choux pastry onto your lined tray, and bake for about 20-25 mins at 200C… or until hollow sounding and golden. a trick i read if you’re really unsure they’re cooked is to get one out, let cool for a few mins then cut open – if its not cooked inside, let the rest cook for longer. i found the recipe made 14 but if yours are smaller you could eke 20 out of it.

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^^i even sifted the flour – now that’s dedication!^^

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Crème Pâtissière
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
2 tsp vanilla essence
½ cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
¼ cup cornflour

Bring milk, vanilla and ¼ cup caster sugar to the boil in a medium saucepan.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk remaining 1/4 cup caster sugar, egg yolks and cornflour together until pale yellow and fully combined. Gently add half the milk mixture in to temper the egg yolks, whisking as you go – i like to add ladles of milk rather than try to pour from the saucepan.
Heat the remaining milk to boiling again, then turn down the heat and pour in the egg mixture, being sure to whisk constantly. Almost instantaneously the custard will thicken up, and once it is back to the boil (belching the odd bubble, quite funny to watch!) it is ready. Take off the heat and pour into a bowl. Press clingfilm into the custard to avoid a skin and refrigerate until using. then run off to your lair with the saucepan, muttering my precious

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To assemble: 
cut profiteroles almost in half, leaving a little attached. Fill a piping bag with the largest nozzle or just use a  ziplock bag with a generous corner cut off. Don’t be stingy, there will be enough creme patisserie for a generous filling in each. Assemble on a platter and dust over icing sugar if desired (we’d run out). If you are a wannabe food blogger, add gratuitous hydrangea sprigs to decorate. Enjoy! DSCF1346

*I know it’s pain having to click over for the pastry recipe, sorry! but writing the method out word for word is copyright infringement, and honestly, annabel does a much better job than i could of walking you through the process. thanks for understanding xx

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^^a grainy selfie of me and sarah in our matching aprons for good measure.^^

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