The Reading Chick Also Bakes: Bouchon Bakery-Cream Puffs

How often does a person make Pate A Choux? For this person, it’s when you get to the Pate A Choux chapter in the Bouchon Bakery cookbook. At first, I was pretty excited about making Cream Puffs. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a great cream puff? I do! At least I did until I tried to make my own. It wasn’t all bad, but boy was this a lot of work for something that, and I quote “are best as soon as they are filled, but can be refrigerated for 1 hour.” Umm, 1 hour?

I actually thought making the dough was pretty easy. There are only a few ingredients, flour, water, eggs, butter, salt, and water.

Essentially, you cook the water, butter and salt on the stove until the butter is melted and then add in the flour to create a paste. I’ve seen this done a thousand times on The British Baking Show or a Food Network baking production and thought it seemed pretty simple. In fact, it was. I got it to the correct consistently, threw it into the mixer and started adding the eggs. Having never made this before, I wasn’t too sure what I ended up with was correct, but not knowing for sure, I put the dough in the molds I bought and threw them into the freezer. Yes, this is another recipe where you can take them out one at a time to cook. Too bad I didn’t do that.

First confession! “Transfer the dough to a pastry bag and pipe into the mold.” Yeah, I didn’t do that. I was just so tired! It took much longer than I thought to make the dough, and I was almost positive I did something wrong. I just spooned the dough in. It wasn’t pretty.

I left these in the freezer until the next weekend when I thought I’d conquer the “Cookies for Cream Puffs.” These are not real cookies! they are some kind of crumbly mix of brown sugar, flour, and a very small amount of butter than I was supposed to roll out and then cut into nice round shapes to place on the top of the cream puffs. The idea being to create a crunchy outer layer to contrast nicely with the soft puff.

You can tell from looking at this dough that it was one hot mess. I rolled and froze, rolled and froze, and then just gave up and took the cream puffs out of the freezer, placed them on a pan, put cookie dough bits on top and threw them into the oven.

While these were cooking I started making the Pastry Cream. It’s not a Cream Pull without that cream, right? I’ve made pudding’s and custards from scratch before so I actually found this to be a pretty easy process. However- 2nd confession- I was supposed to use whole milk, and we only had 2% milk in the fridge. Guess what? It worked anyway. It may not have been as luscious as if I’d used whole milk, but you can still get a pretty good pastry cream. The hardest part of this process was putting the cream through the sifter to get the chunks out. I got impatient and just ended up dumping it all into the bowl to chill.

This time I did actually use the pastry bag and you know what? No longer afraid of it. I found these reusable bags that you can wash out and it was really quite easy!

So, I take the puffs out of the oven and I’m pretty pleased! I think they rose the way they were supposed to? I will admit, there was a second batch that was slightly bigger and they collapsed. Note to self, leave the bigger ones in a little longer than the smaller. Once these had cooled, and the pastry cream was also cool, I piped the cream into the puffs.

You can’t tell, but there are cream in those puffs! Here’s the problem. No one felt like eating them! We all had one to taste and then I put them in the fridge where they got kind of soft and doughy. Not good. So, be warned, they are really serious about that time in the fridge. No more than one hour, otherwise all of that hard work will go to waste.

I worked so hard, over two weekends on these, and I have to admit, I was disappointed! I think I had profiteroles in my head and the cream just didn’t do it for me. I’d much rather of had ice cream! LOL.

Would I make these again? Not even for a dinner party. It took way too long, had to many moving parts and the shelf life is too small. I’m glad I did it the one time, but it’s not happening again!

Until the next recipe!

Deb

Click this link to purchase! Bouchon Bakery (The Thomas Keller Library)

The Reading Chick Also Bakes: Bouchon Bakery- Scones (Plain and Cinnamon Honey)

This week in my Bouchon Bakery challenge I skipped from the cookie chapter to the Scones and Muffins chapter. When I took a look at the first recipe I danced a little jig. Score! A plain scone. I’ve made scones before and even though a couple of ingredients were new to me I thought this was a recipe I could handle.

I made up my grocery list and headed off to the store. The Plain Scone recipe called for Creme Fraiche and I headed to the dairy department not knowing exactly what it was but knew it was a dairy. LOL. I looked by the sour cream…nope, by the heavy cream….nope, by the cream cheese….nope. Then I re-looked in all of those places again! Finally I found someone who worked there and they pointed me to the gourmet cheese section. Huh! This was the brand available at Kroger but I’m sure there are many more.

Now that I had the ingredients I was ready to bake! I got out my brand new scale, started to measure and realized I did not purchase a scale that went down to a .10. The scale rounds up on the number. How did I do that again? Aargh. Oh well, I need to suck it up and just carefully estimate any measurements. The measuring commenced!

When I put it all in my KitchenAid mixer to blend in the butter I paid special attention to how long they said it would take for the butter to mix in. Low and behold, the timing works! At 3 minutes the butter was incorporated without me having to blend in any chunks by hand. Note to self…when the recipe calls for the mixer to mix for a certain amount of time, that number is pretty spot on. Usually I don’t have the patience to wait three minutes for something to mix, give up and stop a lot earlier. Hmm. Patience. Not something I can purchase, but maybe something I can learn. I got out my cell phone and turned on the stopwatch function determined to start timing everything.

At this point I met my challenge.

When I read the prologue of this cookbook it says to read the instructions of your recipe all the way through before you start baking. That way you’ll know what to do and at what time to do it. Repeat. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS ALL THE WAY THROUGH. This way, you don’t leave things out, or miss why you are mixing something at a certain time. For example when it says to pour the cream into the dry mixture, and I’m doing that, I should read further to incorporate the Creme Fraiche at that time as well. Yeah, I waited a little too long. I think I over mixed the scones a bit and because I added that Creme Fraiche a little late, the dough is slightly wet.

Oh well, it’s too late to change the recipe and I’m moving on to the next item. Cooling my dough. Funny enough, this recipe requires more time for refrigerating and freezing than it does in actually mixing the ingredients together. For someone like me who likes instant gratification, this stop and start routine was tough! I patted the dough into the expected large rectangle, put it in the fridge and waited two hours.

After the two hour cool down I try my hand at cutting the dough into individual scones. Looking at the photo, you can see I am triangularly challenged. They may not all be the same size but they will all taste alike! Next, they go into the freezer for at least 2 more hours. Start and stop. I wish they’d tell you why? I can only guess. Maybe because this is a restaurant cookbook they make these individually to sell or is it that the freezing process does something to the butter so that it cooks better and maybe holds its shape? Who knows! I will say that not having to cook every single scone is pretty handy. So I didn’t. LOL.

Other than challenging my patience this scone recipe was pretty easy! In addition to the plain scone recipe I noticed another which used the same Plain Scone recipe but added in a honey cinnamon paste to the dough, so I whipped up those as well and actually did better with the dough the second time around.

The Cinnamon honey cubes were made from a combination of flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and honey. You freeze the mixture and then cut it into little cubes to add into the dough. Other than my cubes maybe being a little too large the end result was a success!

I’ll admit that the first one with the whipped cream and strawberry jam looks a lot better than the second, but my second attempt at that mix actually had the scone rise a little bit more and it was tasty too!

This week I knocked out two recipe’s in one day of baking. Now, I’m not going to get a big head because I pretty much plowed through these scone recipe’s. There are bigger challenges ahead!

Until next time!

Deb