I have been on a quest to make an evenly straight uniformly puffed with no cracking, light and hollow eclair.
Eclairs seem to be coming up as the next big thing with many flavors, bright colours and garnish. These days they must look clean and eye catching!
I have a new recipe and a new way of baking them. It seems the cracking is due to using too high a temperature for too long and not enough moisture in the oven during the beginning stages of baking. Using a French star tip for piping looks amazing and apparently helps the dough expand evenly due to evenly spaced small ridges.
Spraying the choux paste with water just before they go in the oven provides more steam allowing the dough to expand without drying prematurely and cracking. Baking: bake only in a low fan oven 375F for 10 min. Drop to 350 for 10 min. Open oven vents or open the door briefly to let out excess steam. Drop to 325 for 10 min. It’s usually fully baked by this time, leave longer if need a few minutes more. For my home oven I used 25F higher for all temperatures. Our Vulcan oven runs a little hot so I’m going to try the lower temperatures. Making the choux paste and chilling it in the fridge until completely cold definitely gives a more controlled rise. Shops are freezing the piped raw paste and baking off what is needed everyday, you can bake it from frozen!!! I tried it and it worked, although I thought the rise was not quite as good, but still hollow and light. Frozen shapes only take about 30 minutes to defrost and you get a really nice controlled rise when baked very cold. Flour, I’ve tried cake, all purpose, and bread. I really like the texture of the baked pastry the best using all purpose flour and half milk and half water. Tender crisp, light and hollow!
There we go, I wanted to share with everyone what I learned because choux is made in both our culinary and pastry programs.