Flora chose peach, lemon and thyme, and butterscotch and smoked almond for her flavours. She topped the cream horns with caramel wafers and tuille cigars which she spent way too much time concentrating on making, rather than focusing on the main event. She also presented her cream horns upright, but as they were not sealed at the bottom her lemon curd and chocolate fillings dripped out completely so there was none left for the judges to taste. Ian was the only baker to do a second flavour of pastry. He added cocoa to his pastry to make a stripy cream horn with a Black Forest Gateau inspired filling. Unfortunately his different pastries did not bond together and were partly raw inside.
Nadiya made rose and pistachio, and mocha hazelnut cream horns. She seemed quite nervous while her pastry was baking, but it baked beautifully and she calmed down once they were done. She got the usual warnings from the judges about not using too much rose flavour, but after tasting them Paul said it was a very delicate flavour. The judges agreed they looked very good and were uniform with nicely baked pastry.
Tamal went for lime and mascarpone, and malt cream horns. His pastry was crispy and well layered, and the judges were very impressed with his flavours. Baker Paul made coffee and vanilla, and banana cream horns. His pastry was well baked, but judge Paul did not think the banana flavour was strong enough. For his coffee ones, his creme patt was too thick and he hadn’t piped it all the way to the bottom – cue a disapointed Mary!
Mokatines were the technical challenge this week. A recipe from Mary Berry’s baking bible itself. Mary’s fear inducing comment to the bakers before they started was that they should be “sheer perfection”. No pressure then Mary! They are squares of genoise sponge filled with coffee buttercream and covered in chopped nuts and coffee icing.
Nadiya had heard of the recipe before but never made it. Paul struggled the most as he had never made a genoise sponge before, and the recipe had no instructions on how to do so. He made two normal sponges but they did not rise enough. This resulted in him coming last, Tamal came 4th, Flora 3rd, Ian 2nd, and Nadiya won the challenge!
This week’s showstopper was to make a Religieuse a L’anncienne, which is a tower of eclairs separated with biscuits. Think of it as the eclair version of a croquembouche. The judges requested three tiers of eclairs with no help from dowling as support. It also must be decorated with buttercream. Paul was insistent that the flavours come through, and Mary warned that the eclairs must be strong and fully baked as if they aren’t and they bend it could create ‘ghastly’ results. Once the eclair towers were completed, the bakers had to go on a 2 hour lunch break before they were judged to prove they could remain standing.
Tamal made passionfruit & mango, and pistachio & raspberry eclairs for his tower. Both he and Ian used very strong flour for their choux pastry and it certainly paid off as neither collapsed. Tamal and Ian also used a star nozzle to pipe out the eclairs to give them more structure and strength. Tamal’s held up, and although his piping was a bit messy, the judges enjoyed his flavours. Ian made cardamom & coffee, and passionfruit eclairs. This really was a perfect challenge for Ian as he is very good at baking engineering. They loved his flavour mix and were impressed by his technique.
Flora used half regular and half strong flour, but still suffered a collapse. She chose coconut & vanilla, and lime and basil for her flavours, but the judges couldn’t taste any of her flavours.
Nadiya and Paul did not use any strong flour for their eclairs which was definitely a mistake as they both suffered structural issues. Nadiya’s flavours were peppermint and bubblegum. I’m not really sure what bubblegum tastes like, isn’t it just sugar? Nadiya’s did collapse, and the judges liked her flavours (well, Mary wasn’t so sure) but thought they were far too strong. Paul’s flavours were vanilla & banana, and raspberry & basil. He added artifical banana extract because he was concerned about it not coming through enough. The judges praised his icing technique and also the bake on his eclairs, although as they were underdone this probably lead to the collapse of his tower.
Paul left us this week. He came last in the technical, Paul wasn’t impressed with his cream horns and his eclair tower collapsed. Star baker was Nadiya as she did so well in the first two challenges. Next episode is all about chocolate!
I was going to make cream horns this week and I did give them a try but it didn’t get past the pastry stage! Firstly the ice cream cones I bought to use as moulds were all smashed in the packet, so I only had two to work with. Then my pastry split apart in the oven, so I gave up on it. I also had problems making the eclairs too. I was feeling stressed after the cream horn disaster and my first batch of eclairs were a soggy mess. I had a break and calmed down, then took more time and got it right second time round. I’m so glad I persisted as they were damn delicious!!
To make the choux pastry I started by putting 200ml cold water and 75g butter in a pan. I heated it until the mixture came to boil.
I removed it from the heat and tipped 125g plain flour into the pan. I beat it with a wooden spoon until it was mixed in. I put it back on a medium heat and beat it in the pan for a few minutes.
I then poured the mixture into a bowl and beat it for a few minutes until it was luke warm instead of hot. I slowly added 3 beaten eggs, bit by bit, and whisked in thoroughly between each addition.
I put the mixture into a piping bag with a round nozzle. I piped out 4 inch long lengths of the pastry onto a lined baking tray. I used a sharp wet knife to stop the flow of batter. They are slightly misplaced in the above photo as I messed one up!
I baked the eclairs on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes, then reduced the temperature to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for a further 20 minutes. This made sure they were really dried out. To make sure they were dry inside I broke one open as a test. If it’s still wet inside just poke holes in the other eclairs and give them another 5 minutes in the oven. They weren’t as straight as I wanted (I think the fan in the oven blew them over a bit!!) I stored them in tupperware box overnight as I didn’t have time to fill them the same day.
I melted some dark chocolate, about 200g, and dipped each eclair in it to coat the tops.
I then melted 40g peanut butter candy melts and piped a zig zag pattern over the dark chocolate once it was set.
I made the filling by mixing 90g peanut butter, 300ml double cream, 200g icing sugar, 2 tsp Dr Oetker caramel flavouring and 1 1/2 tsp salt.
I filled the eclairs with the mixture using a piping bag and a star nozzle, and tucked in! They were super sweet, salty and nutty – such a good combination! You need to eat the eclairs straight away, or at least the same day. If you don’t fill them they will last a couple of days in an airtight container. They are also really good filled with plain whipped cream!
I am entering these eclairs into Baking Queen’s challenge Perfecting Patisserie, there is no specific theme this month.
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Peanut Butter & Caramel Eclairs
- 75 g Butter
- 200 ml Cold water
- 125 g Plain flour
- 3 Eggs
- 200 g Dark chocolate
- 40 g Peanut butter candy melts
- 90 g Peanut butter
- 300 ml Double cream
- 200 g Icing sugar
- 2 tsp Caramel extract
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt
To make the choux pastry put the cold water and butter in a pan and heat until it comes to a boil
Remove from the heat and tip the plain flour into the pan. Beat it with a wooden spoon until it's mixed in. Put it back on a medium heat and beat it in the pan for a few minutes
Pour the mixture into a bowl and beat it for a few minutes until it is luke warm instead of hot. Slowly add the eggs, bit by bit, and whisk in thoroughly between each addition
Put the mixture into a piping bag with a round nozzle. Pipe out 4 inch long lengths of the pastry onto a lined baking tray. Use a sharp wet knife to stop the flow of batter
Bake the éclairs on 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for a further 20 minutes. Poke small holes into the ends of each éclair and bake for a further 5 minutes
Melt the dark chocolate and dip each éclair in it to coat the tops. Leave the chocolate to set
Then melt the peanut butter candy melts and pipe a zig zag pattern over the dark chocolate
Make the filling by whisking together the peanut butter, double cream, icing sugar, caramel extract and salt. Fill the éclairs with the mixture using a piping bag and a star nozzle