Bastille day is coming soon! It is the French national day that we celebrate on 14 of July each year. It is summer in France but it is winter here and it is freezing. So I thought ‘what could I bake to celebrate this special day?’ Something heavy to warm up my body! As usual I have been back to my old friends cookbook. I have got a really nice book about eclair from the French pastry chef Christophe Adam and that is where I took my inspiration for the Bastille Day Eclair I baked.
Choux Pastry: Make sure you measure all ingredients before you start. In a saucepan slowly bring to boil (medium heat) the water, milk, salt, sugar and butter.
Remove from heat and add the sifted flour all at once and stir quickly with a wooden spoon. Return the saucepan to medium heat and keep stirring until a thin layer is forming on the bottom of the saucepan. It could takes up to 3 minutes. It is ready when the dough forms a smooth ball that pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Then transfer the dough to a bowl and let cool for 3 minutes. Add the beaten egg in 5 times (quantity of one egg at a time). Stir well after each addition. Each time you add eggs the dough will split into small pieces. Keep stirring until the dough absorbs the eggs.
Usually the dough does not require the 5 full eggs. It really depends on the flour you used. The dough is ready when it is consistent – not too liquid and shiny- as on the picture below.
Transfer the dough into a piping bag.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Cover a baking tray with baking paper or use a silicon mat.
Pipe the eclairs on the baking tray. Length is about 15 cm.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Do not (never ever!) open the oven door until puffed up (around 10-20 minutes depending on their size). Transfer to a rack and let cool before use.
Custard: Cut the vanilla bean in the middle and scrape out the seeds with a knife tip. You could also use few drops of vanilla extract. Bring to boil the milk and add the vanilla bean and seeds in the boiling milk.
Remove from heat and let infuse for 10 minutes. In a bowl combine egg, cornflour and sugar and whisk well until the mixture becomes yellow/white.
Filter the milk through a coffee filter or sieve.
Pour the warm milk into the previous mixture and whisk vigourously.
Return the mixture into the saucepan under medium heat and keep stirring.
Let boil for 3 more minutes and keep stirring.
Remove from heat and add the diced butter. Stir until it is entirely melted.
Pour the custard into a piping bag and let it cool down for 2 hours (first hour at room temperature and then in the fridge).
The eclairs topping: Prepare 3 bowls – one for each colour.
Mix 40g of icing sugar with few drops of food colouring.
Add slowly some water with a teaspoon. Usually 2 or 3 teaspoon of water are enough. Combine with a spoon and stop adding water when the mixture is thick and shiny.
You do not want something too liquid or it will not set on the top of the eclair. Store in plastic bags. Cut a edge of the bag to use as a piping bag.
Filling and decorating eclairs: Drill 3 holes on the top of the eclairs and fill with vanilla custard using the piping bag. Place the eclairs between two baking tray to hid the sides.
Start decorating with the topping prepared in the plastic bag. Swirl one colour at a time.